A white woman holds a skull like Hamlet.

“Welcome to the Archive”

Before Nursing Clio takes its annual December break, our editors decided to leave NC readers with a small holiday gift. Please enjoy this delightful archive parody of “Welcome to the Jungle” by AcaSheMia. 

AcaSheMia is a feminist musical collective made up of faculty from the English Department at North Dakota State University. Originally conceived and launched in the University of Wisconsin System in 2017, the band was re-formed in 2018 as AcaSheMia West. The band’s original mission consisted of reimagining 1980s heavy metal cock rock songs as feminist anthems, tackling both serious and not-so-serious issues in higher education.

Early work included such efforts as revising AC/DC’s “Back in Black” from the story of a criminal bad boy’s re-entry into society into a lament about the re-entry from winter break back to the classroom in the spring semester. Continuing this tradition, AcaSheMia translates Guns N’ Roses’ misogynist tale of a young ingénue’s quest for stardom, “Welcome to the Jungle,” into the saga of archival research.

Featuring Dr. Lisa Arnold, assistant professor of English, on-site at the North Dakota State University archives in Fargo, ND, our video attempts to capture the excitement of scholarly inquiry and archival research while simultaneously poking fun at some of the rigidities of collection management. “Welcome to the Archive” satirizes the original Guns n Roses song, but also — we hope — captures the joys and challenges of archival work and does some humorous commentary in the meantime.

The overall video concept traces Dr. Arnold’s research journey, playing on some of the bureaucracies of the archive. Our video also uses visual elements to clarify some of the lyrics (such as our reference to “no-names,” or the under-recognized authors and sources we might find in an archive). We wanted to draw attention to the archive as both a site of exploration and frustration.

Though we do invoke some of the stereotypes of librarians and archives (they are spaces filled with “dusty finds” and the archive staff will “watch you read”), we also hoped to balance those traditional ideas about archival research with highlights: our lady scholar embracing the real-life archive staff member, John, and the featuring of our three staff members greeting us. Band members in the video are both rocking out in the stacks and doing serious study of various artifacts, including Lawrence Welk’s actual accordion!

Ultimately, the goal of AcaSheMia (in this and our other songs) is to bring a DIY/Maker spirit to academic culture:

  • Drawing from popular culture texts and discourses that have historically been misogynist/patriarchal and repurposing them through feminist remodeling.
  • Challenging assumptions about embodied versus intellectual avenues into academic commentary (as well as alphanumeric versus sonic and visual).
  • Uprooting the gendered traditions that underpin both rock music and academic discourse.
  • Bring a spirit of playfulness and humor to academe and to feminist critique.

Group members include:

  • Lisa Arnold (Assistant Professor of English; percussion, keyboards, and vocals)
  • Alison Graham Bertolini (Assistant Professor of English and Women and Gender Studies; bass, vocals)
  • Holly Hassel (Professor of English; guitar, vocals)
  • Emily D. Wicktor (Assistant Professor of English; percussion, vocals)

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