Collector- Object-Researcher
: An Historiographical Study of the Performativity of Archival Research

  • Sophie Johns

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)


Within the realm of archival historiography, this thesis considers the performative reciprocity in the relationship between the archive collector, their collected materials and the researcher who studies them. By looking at the narrative subjectivity with which archive collections are artistically created, how the collected materials communicate personal and cultural contexts and how researchers receive this information within their own circumstantial frameworks of perception an indication of the complex palimpsest of performativity that exists within archival research becomes apparent. A practical methodology is employed to investigate: the moments of encounter, material linguistics and autobiographical subjectivity involved in archival research, across the analytical triumvirate of collector – object – researcher. This process leads to a distinctive historiography that considers phenomenologies of perception, haptic
engagement with material and the cultural meaning-making that can subsequently be read from these interactions. This outcome suggests new and different ways of thinking curatorially with display, exhibition and museology as the theatre for performative historical re-enactment with objects. By investigating five collections with differing collecting approaches, styles and drives from the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, this study closely considers what performance studies can do for paper-based and three-dimensional archival historiography in terms of using potential tools and media and continuing to challenge the disciplinary exclusivities of the University, Theatre and Museum.
Date of Award6 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorCatherine E Hindson (Supervisor)

Cite this