Digital Historiography and Performance
Abstract

In the wake of the so-called digital revolution, media and technology affect not only performance practices, but also how the history of those practices can be documented, analyzed, and shared. The last several years have seen significant increases in digital research and scholarship projects, as well as more official recognition throughout the field, including special issues and edited collections dedicated to the digital humanities in theatre and performance studies research. At the same time, digital technologies offer new approaches to history that may themselves resemble performance. These histories need not be only linear, narrative historiography, but can enable a conception of historiography that exists in multiple places at once, incorporates many voices (some contradictory), and is distributed, sometimes bodily, among multiple perspectives. This essay considers both the distinctions between digital performance and digital methodologies in performance history and historiography, and how these changing digital practices—both methodological and creative—are shaping both the history of performance and history as performance. It responds to larger trends in digital methods affecting not only academia, but also contemporary culture more broadly. The convergence of these inquiries into digital history and theatre culminates in a case study of the Decision Points Theater at the George W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library in Dallas, where the recent history of the Bush presidency can be played out in real time by visitors through digital, performative displays.


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