University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

The Archive, the Historian, and the Relationships of Change

Cochrane, Claire ORCID: (2022) The Archive, the Historian, and the Relationships of Change. Pamiętnik Teatralny, 71 (2). pp. 35-54. ISSN 2658-2899

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Archives come into existence through human agency driven by individual and/or collective philosophical and ideological value systems and priorities. As such, they are sites of power and usually controlled access. They continue to grow through the acquisition of more materials and maintain vigilance in the face of the constant threat of damage, decay, and loss. Out of the relationships formed between their material resources and historians, history is made and remade. This article draws on the archive of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company, one of the most substantial collections dedicated to a regional theatre in the UK, with which the author has had a particularly intense relationship. In the course of decades of engagement, firstly through doctoral research and then subsequent publications, Rep’s archive produced the author as a theatre historian. The article also problematizes the relationships formed by other individuals: new young academic researchers and volunteering enthusiasts, untroubled by academic restraints, keen to delve and select material which speaks to their preferences. Out of both constituencies of interest, more new histories are made, some of which directly challenge previous assumptions and priorities, provoking new questions. If a key ontological question concerns the nature of reality, which is more real: the archive and its contents or the histories which are made? How do the relationships forged through material archival encounters—relationships which generate feelings of ownership or potentially loss—function historiographically as the historical record is made and remade?

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: theater archive, theater historiography, Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
Copyright Info: Copyright (c) 2020 Claire Cochrane
Depositing User: Claire Cochrane
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2022 12:39
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2022 12:39

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