Archive Fevers

Tara Blake

The archive is a foreign country, or so we learn from Scarlett Durand, for whom it proves a country of ghosts that are foreign. Some haunt the mind, such as Freud and Derrida; some haunt old photographs, home movies, and faded typescripts, such as an 1930s American ethnographer, a troubled Swedish diplomat, and a suiciding Chinese historian; and some haunt Durand herself, such as a girl who cannot stop bleeding, and a scholar who cannot stop dreaming.’

John Schad, author of Paris Bride: A Modernist Life (Punctum Books, 2020)

– – –

Tara Blake’s Archive Fevers is a challenging and personal response to Jacques Derrida’s path-breaking Archive Fever (1995). The book takes the form of a fictional email exchange between a young queer scholar, Scarlett Durand, and her psychotherapist, Hannah Kublitz. Over the course of their correspondence between 1997 and 2011, Scarlett’s intellectual and personal life unfolds alongside her growing archival delirium. Scarlett’s childhood memories, adolescent traumas, dreams of a ‘mystery woman’, and reflections on her mother’s slow death become mixed with her research into ethnographic and political events of the 1930s and beyond.

Archive Fevers brings biography, critical theory, ethnography, plagiarism and psychoanalysis into thrilling new conversation. Established figures such as Derrida, Sigmund and Anna Freud, Margaret Mead and Avital Ronell are approached as thinkers but also as archives, their personal narratives, slips and mistakes playfully re-visited and re-created. Throughout the book runs Scarlett’s quest to reveal the matriarchal qualities of the archive that she believes Derrida has repressed, and her struggle to know whether she is truly writing in her own voice and name.

– – –

‘A mind-bending read that is both disturbing and funny in places. Blake does the necessary work of placing therapy in the midst of theoretical, historical, and critical legacies. Archive Fevers offers a therapeutic dialogue as a messy, restricted archive, a tradition presided over by flawed archivists filled with their own investments and enriched by overflowing, associative and productively unreliable researchers: our clients.’

Alice Kentridge, Psychotherapist, Writer, and Co-founder of Queer Analytic Circle

Paperback | £10.00 (RRP: £12.99)
ISBN 978-1-911343-77-6