McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Charlotte Cushman, Archives, Material Memory, Material Culture, Performance, 19th Century, Theater History
Visual depictions of nineteenth century stage actress Charlotte Cushman, such as photographs, engravings, and painted portraits assist researchers in re-envisioning her both as an actress and as a person, but what do her remaining archival possessions further reveal to researchers about her memory? How do different objects operate as portraits that allow the researcher to tap into and remember specific moments and memory? How does the effort to preserve memory take different forms? This project argues that, when viewing the archive through its stored objects, our collective notion of portraiture can be expanded and used to interrogate existing methods of accessing archival information, specifically the history of stage actresses. I propose that in critically engaging with archival objects, specifically Charlotte Cushman’s, a new portrait, a documentary portrait, of the life and career of the subject emerges and thus yields an opportunity to combat and reimagine the ephemerality of the archive.
Sunday, S. (2022). Rendering Documentary Portraiture: An Interrogation of Archival Discourse Through a Critical Exploration of Nineteenth Century Stage Actress Charlotte Cushman’s Material Memory (Master's thesis, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/2094