Topographies of Theatre Documents in the Industrial Era

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Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, & Publishing
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Seeking papers on "topographies" of C19 Theatre Documents: Playscript; playbills; programs; tickets. For panel at the Annual SHARP Conference (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, & Pubishing), Philadelphia, 18-21 July 2013. Conference theme: Geographies of the Book
Playscripts, playbills and posters, tickets and programs – a nexus of documents constitutes the textual array of theatre production, from backstage to theatre house to ticket booth to public streets. This array has been well limned for the Early Modern era – by the landmark bibliography of W.W. Greg and more recent revisions by Tiffany Stern—and also for the Modern era, from G.B. Shaw's page format peccadillos to studies of recent backstage processes in the French school of Theatre Genetics. A gap remains for the nineteenth century, the era of spectacle melodrama, touring stars, and theatre's final hurrah as the dominant public entertainment medium. The theatre documents of this era speak to the vibrant themes of industrial capitalism, urbanization, the British Empire, and the transforming social identities in that complex political-economic context. This panel invites such readings of macro social themes from the micro level of paper things. We solicit papers that address specific instances of theatre's material texts, ephemera or playscripts, from (roughly) the 1830s to 1890s, from any language or country. (The papers should showcase a Book History, critical Bibliography, or sociology of material text methodology, more than, or instead of, a literary analysis of dramatic text.) We welcome analyses of the "geography" of these documents from several angles: metaphorically, in relation to the visual-spatial features of elements such as typography, layout, paratexts, and preliminary matter; or literally, in relation to theatre publicity in urban space or publisher distribution of playscripts, among other possibilities.

Submit abstract (up to 250 words), affiliation/contact information, by November 21st 2012 to: and/or Queries welcome to same addresses.