This essay is in two parts, in the first I attempt to map out strategies for considering archival materials through the lens of performance, and in the second I enact or perform some of those strategies through a close reading of a letter from Sally Siddons, daughter of the famous actress Sarah Siddons, to the renown portrait painter and rakish bad boy, Sir Thomas Lawrence. I present a methodology that considers archival researchers as tourists who approach archival objects and images as material for curating a virtual exhibition. I argue that this strategy allows us to recognize and attempt to envision the interdisciplinary relationship amongst archival materials in order to imagine them in spatial, theatrical, and visual proximity to one another. In this way as researchers we are performing a kind of re-enactment, an animation, of the secret life of archives, which attempts to account the embodied traces of the past by providing an accessible thought provoking map for audiences.
theater history, actresses, performance, archives, sarah siddons, sir thomas lawrence, material culture, feminist theory
"The Secret Life of Archives: Sally Siddons, Sir Thomas Lawrence, and The Material of Memory,"
ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830: Vol.4: Iss.1, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/abo/vol4/iss1/2