Theatrescapes. Mapping Global Theatre Histories

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About the project

The historiography of theatre and media history dedicated to analysing its objects as phenomena of global circulation and exchange, relies on a relational and multi-dimensional perspective which can only profit from established paradigms and recent innovations in Digital Humanities (DH) and Historical Network Analysis.
Anthropologist Arjun Appadurai has coined the notion of various "-scapes" for understanding the different dimensions of globalization. The project Theatrescapes -  Digital Theatre and Media History embraces this key concept of ethnographical, sociological, and historical research in order to collect, visualize, and depict global flows and cultural encounters in 19th and 20th century theatre and opera. As one of the leading media and cultural institutions of this period, theatre of all genres acted as a global currency or good of cultural exchange, mobility, and trade, which calls for a framework of Global Theatre Histories.

This project combines, in an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach, questions of global history and transnational theory with the methods and tools of Digital Humanities and adapts these to the analysis of theatre history. Its goal is to develop and implement a relational database on the basis of geo- and chronoreferencing. With aid of this database, one will be able to better collect, analyse and map the global exchanges and trans-local dynamics in the area of theatre during so-called first phase of globalisation (1850-1920). This has proved to be crucial in further investigating theatrical phenomena in their relation to economic and cultural globalization – not only for historiographical projects, but also for contemporary phenomena.

Particular significance is placed on the reflexion of (theatre) historiographical and scholarly/academic operations. The database is thus conceived both as an empirical research tool and as a means of reflexion on historiographical methods for theatre historians interested in theatre as a trans-local mediator, global connector, and transcultural institution. The project is designed as a point of departure for the long-term establishment of Digital Humanities in the fields of theatre studies, art history, as well as history at LMU and has received an LMUexcellent start-up grant to develop tools and methods for academic research and teaching.