We are delighted to announce the online, open access publication with the MIT Press of our bilingual volume, Databases, Revenues, and Repertory: The French Stage Online, 1680-1793. This work is an innovative collection of original essays that explore an important initiative in the digital humanities, the Comédie-Française Registers Project (CFRP). Databases, Revenues, and Repertory takes advantage of this unique online archive to explore programming decisions made by the royal troupe in Paris during the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Scholars of the period know that the plays of Molière, Racine, Corneille, and Voltaire were frequently performed, but the troupe’s full repertory in this 113-year period consisted of more than 1,000 plays written by over 300 authors, spread across more than 33,000 nightly performances.
How did politics, economics, and social conflict shape the troupe’s repertory and affect its finances? Was the theater a space for critical discussion of public issues, or a place to seek escape from the uncertainties of the world? Several essays in the volume explore the long-term trends in box office receipts and repertory decisions across the century, while others focus on the critical years around 1760, when the influence of Enlightenment ideals and authors made itself felt on the French capital’s premier stage. A third set of essays considers the uses of digital humanities methodologies in the study of French theater history and in the humanities more generally—how new are the methodologies and conclusions of digital humanists, how do these applications reshape the questions we ask of literature and cultural history, and how do they expand our sensory understanding of the past?