In 1810, if you were strolling down one of the Grands Boulevards where all Paris gathered to socialize, what would you hear?
If you walked into one of the great theaters along the Boulevards, what would you hear from the stage?
The Digital Parisian Stage project aims to answer the second question with the hope that it will give us a hint about the answer to the first question. It leverages the work of scholars like Beaumont Wicks and archive projects like Gallica and Google Books to create a truly representative corpus of Parisian theater. The first phase, covering the Napoleonic period 1800-1815, has already yielded promising results.
Many older corpora were compiled using a “principle of authority,” and tend to give voice to nobles and wealthy bourgeois characters. The Digital Parisian Stage avoids that bias by using random sampling to center the popular theater of the period, giving researchers a fuller picture of the language of lower classes as it was represented on stage. For more information, view the slides from a presentation I gave at the Corpus Linguistics Conference in 2017.
In November 2016 I uploaded the existing texts to GitHub as HTML files. You can read them for your own entertainment (Jocrisse-maître et Jocrisse-valet is my favorite), stage your own production of them (I’ll buy tickets!) or use them as data for your scientific investigations. I hope that you will also consider contributing to the repository, by checking for errors in the existing texts, adding new texts from the catalog, or converting them to a different format like TEI or Markdown.
In January 2018 I created the spectacles_xix Twitter bot, which every day tweets the descriptions of all the plays that premièred on that day 200 years ago.
If you do use these plays in your own studies, please don’t forget to cite me along the lines given below, or even to contact me to discuss co-authorship!
Grieve-Smith, Angus B. (2016). The Digital Parisian Stage Corpus. GitHub. https://github.com/grvsmth/theatredeparis