WWP The Project Newsletter Archive Volume 3,Number 2 MLA 1998 Special Session

MLA 1998 Special Session: Electronic Editing and British 18th and 19th-century Women's Theatre Writing

Thomas Crochunis

[Editor's note: This special session proposal for next year's MLA may be of particular interest to readers of this newsletter, since its focus is on the particular challenges of preparing an electronic edition or archive of women's theatre writing. Although the WWP is not directly sponsoring this session, we hope very much to be among its beneficiaries, and to gain from the discussion and insight it generates.]

Thomas Crochunis is an independent scholar working on 18th and 19th-century women's theatre writing. He is co-editor of a forthcoming volume of essays on Joanna Baillie and co-editor of a forthcoming special issue of the online journal Romanticism on the Net on "British Women Playwrights Around 1800."

Session Proposal

The central question the session aims to address is: How can theatre materials related to women as playwrights best be prepared for electronic delivery? Short papers should present informational presentations about scholars' work on specific projects, technological tools and their uses, theoretical issues to be addressed, or strategies for planning, funding, and advancing work on preparing materials related to British 18th and 19th century women's theatre writing.

In anticipation of the session at MLA in San Francisco, a web site will be established at which all proposals or papers deemed relevant to the topic will be placed on line to promote general exchange of ideas. The session itself will feature a series of short presentations but will mainly consist of discussion of the topics put forward in some of the online materials (which will also be available in paper copy) and overviews given by presenters. I hope we will be able to document the proceedings of the conference session so that they, too, can be posted on the web site for those who cannot attend. The intention of the web site and session will be to create a community of inquiry into the topics surrounding this work, bringing together the people working on all aspects of the problem: theatre studies, women's writing, text encoding, scholarly editing. The long-term goal may be to create some common understanding of the functional and theoretical requirements of such a project, and to lay the groundwork for the preparation of widely useful, electronically available versions of these materials.

What I hope this approach to the session might do is:

  1. Set up a flexible opportunity for those who are interested to begin to participate in the dialogue on this subject. People need not attend the conference to participate.
  2. Open a space for considering the possibilities of electronic delivery of women's theatre materials in the hopes of sharing information and discussing the theoretical and practical concerns of theatre historians.
  3. Discover what work and thought are already going on, and begin to build inquiry in order to make a case for some sort of future funding.

Send proposals, papers, or inquiries by March 1, 1998 to:

Thomas Crochunis
6 Beech Street, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02140

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