Archival Liveness: The Paper Archive in the Digital Age


  • Joy Palacios Department of French, Simon Fraser University


This article examines the tension between performance and the archive by interrogating the archive's apparent deadness. Based on the author's personal experience conducting research in an old-fashioned paper-and-manuscript archive, the article draws on Actor-Network-Theory and new materialism to propose that a document depository constitutes a network of actors and actants linked together by performance. The article posits in conclusion that the imminent digitization of paper archives makes them more "live" now than ever, and suggests that for the next generation of researchers, who will have come of age photographing every aspect of their own lives, mediatized performance will provide a crucial model for theorizing the archive.

Author Biography

Joy Palacios, Department of French, Simon Fraser University

Joy Palacios is an assistant professor of literature (Ancien Régime) in the Department of French at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. Her research investigates 17th- and 18th-century religious practice through the lens of performance, with special attention to tensions between the church and the theater. She is currently preparing a book manuscript on the way transformations in priestly training during the Counter-Reformation impacted clerical attitudes toward actors in early modern France.