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Margaret Greer (Duke University, Romance Studies): "Early Modern Spanish Theater Manuscripts: What 3,000 of Them Tell Us"

January 23, 2019 - 12:00pm
Building 260, room 252. Co-sponsored by CMEMS and CESTA.

The growth of early modern Spanish theater paralleled that of Elizabethan theater despite their independent development. The corrales (public theaters) in Madrid and other cities opened in the 1570s and 1580s, as did London’s extramural playhouses. The network of corrales was more extensive and continuous, however, operating at least into the 18th century, in some 30 cities and towns in Iberia and beyond. Close to 10,000 plays were apparently written for them, by Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Calderón de la Barca and scores of lesser talents. That volume helps explain the survival of some 3,000 manuscripts, listed in our database, https://manos.net/:  over 100 autograph manuscripts by the principal dramatists, plus those made by theater company owners, actors, semi-professional copyists, memoriones, copies for sale, gifts or personal collections.

The manuscripts can tell us how the vibrant Spanish theater industry resembled and contrasted with that of England, Italy and France.  They help us correct defective printed editions of the plays, understand the nature of theater companies, their interactions with dramatists, with court theaters, with Corpus Christi and other religious festivities, the lives of actors, actresses and theater company owners, the role of apuntadores (prompters/bookkeepers), and more.

Along with displaying a range of manuscripts, from the 1570s to the 1700s, court plays to burlesque interludes, I will demonstrate the variety of digital resources now available for this theater, and those that are in development—most importantly, a program based on computer vision and machine learning to help identify and classify copyists. I will welcome your comments and suggestions.

Research Group: