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Manuscript Performance

My postdoctoral research comprises a manuscript collection of more than two hundred eighteenth-century dramas, from varying genres, including comedy, opera, tragedy, and farce, etc. These plays were copied between 1780 and 1797 by António José de Oliveira, a professional scribe. Among the playwrights names like Carlo Goldoni, Salomon Gessner, Molière, and Edward Young are easily recognizable (Pinto, 2013).

Recent international initiatives such as 'Performing the Archive' ( ), and 'Living Archives' ( made me aware of a new approach to historical data, based on live experiences with the community, and aiming at bringing cultural heritage into the dynamics of everyday life experience.

Thus, I have recently engaged in a new practice intertwining performance art, manuscripts, and video, so as to take advantage of new media to promote the dissemination, and reinterpretation, of drama manuscripts. As I wish to contend the assumption that archives mainly ask for detachment and disembodiment (Nagler, 1959), my project lies within taking drama manuscripts as artistic input, and enhancing how the digital can act upon them in such a way as to originate new forms of enactment, and embodiment (Azcárate and Bouchardon, 2013). Since digital tools can transform manuscripts into artifacts on the move, 21st century bodies are offered an array of new opportunities to reshape the contours of lived cultural experience. So, combining digital tools with manuscripts leads to meaningful cultural dialogue to the extent that reclaiming the past goes hand in hand with questioning the present, fostering inclusive connections within the humanities and arts.


Azcárate, A. L., and S. Bouchardon (2013) 'Making Sense of the Digital as Embodied Experience', pp. 68-77 in S. T. de Zepetnek (ed.) Digital Humanities and the Study of Intermediality in Comparative Cultural Studies. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press.

Nagler, A. M. (1959) A Source Book in Theatrical History. New York: Dover Publications.

Pinto, I. (2013) '(Un)Certain Editing', Cibertextualidades 5: 203-214.

Isabel Pinto (Research Centre for Communication and Culture, Catholic University of Portugal): I am a postdoctoral research fellow, with a PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of Lisbon. Over the last decade, I have been a member of the research team of several projects related to the European Theatre History, and I have published widely on eighteenth-century theatre. At the present date, one of my main topics of research is how the performing arts endorse, or reject certain social and educational constructs, envisioning paths for new intercultural categories and practices.