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Essay (Online Only)

Hyperlinks as the Pulse of the Past: Using and Teaching a Digital Theatre Archive

By Ciara Conway

Introduction: Teaching Students to Wake the Dead

I often speak to students about awakening the dead spectres of theatre history. This idea derives from, but also engenders my own passion for research in theatre archives. Should we call ghosts to life? What good can come of theatre students learning to awaken the dead? And can the digital natives of today materialize phantoms in new ways? This essay aims to answer these questions by examining changing research practices in light of the challenges presented by digital archives of theatre and performance material. In the digital age, it may be that archival-based courses drawing on digital tools provide an exemplary space to allow students to engage with theatre history. Yet, the simplicity of hyperlinks, their ability to provide direct and rapid access to information, conceals the intricate work required to forge these connections.