Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 November 2011
Music theatre scholarship, and indeed theatre history research in general, can be accurately described as a subset of media studies. As much as we might claim the contrary to our theatre students, theatre scholarship is not, by and large, the study of live performance but is instead an analysis of our own reconstructions built from the traces theatrical events leave behind. We study not moments but materials, not what was live but rather what was left. Increasingly, these leavings are likely to be digital. Much has been written of late about the current and imminent challenges these “born digital” materials pose for librarians and archivists, and many are now developing processes and procedures for preserving and providing access to them. Relatively little published scholarship has been done using these archives, however, so the emerging practices have yet to be thoroughly tested by researchers.1 In this article I narrate my experiences using the born-digital artifacts in the Jonathan Larson collection at the Library of Congress in an effort to provide an example of one form this sort of scholarship might take.
See, for example, Bryan P. Bergeron, Dark Ages II: When the Digital Data Die (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice–Hall, 2002); and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Erika Farr, Kari M. Kraus, Naomi L. Nelson, Catherine Stollar Peters, Gabriela Redwine, and Doug Reside, Approaches to Managing and Collecting Born-Digital Literary Materials for Scholarly Use, white paper prepared for the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities, 2009.
2. Bill Aronson, telephone interview with author, 4 January 2010.
3. All references are to the digital files held in the Jonathan Larson Collection at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Permission for use has been granted by the Estate of Jonathan Larson and Skeeziks LLC, all rights reserved.
4. Aronson interview.
5. Ira Weitzman quoted in Singer, Barry, Ever After: The Last Years of Musical Theatre and Beyond (New York: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, 2004)Google Scholar, 104.
6. Aronson interview.
7. Caldicott, Helen, If You Love This Planet: A Plan to Heal the Earth (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992), 5–6Google Scholar.
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