Performance in the Archive: Archival Memory and Authenticity in the Celebration of the Eucharist

Redhead, A. (2015) Performance in the Archive: Archival Memory and Authenticity in the Celebration of the Eucharist. Performing the Archive International Conference, NUI Galway, Ireland, 22-24 Jul 2015.

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Abstract

The celebration of the Eucharist is the pinnacle of the liturgy for many Christian traditions. Itself being the ultimate act of memory, the celebration of the Mass is simultaneously a performance, and as re-enactment a renewed writing of the script for future performances. The liturgy itself provides us with a script, we have ‘performers’ and ‘audience’ in clergy and congregation, and an act which is culturally important and therefore worthy of consideration for addition to the archive. In the liturgy, we can take a specific, special act which has been performed and represented across many traditions over many centuries and examine how what happens has been codified and represented in art and literature over centuries. How can the story of the Eucharist be told (and re-told?), and what can the archivist learn of the representation and re-presentation of an act using non-traditional physical material? Can the celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion, and Breaking of the Bread be viewed as a remembrance, and if so, can any of the other situations (for example, plays, oral history) be viewed as remembrances in the same way? Is the Eucharist just another example of this, or is it by virtue of the commandment to ‘do this in memory of me’, a very particular vehicle with which to examine the principles of archival theory and directions of research as previously explained? Archival theory has much to offer when looking at these questions; how does archival theory of representation, memory, and authenticity help us to inform our view of ‘performance’ within this particular context? The Eucharist certainly provides us with a very particular but relevant context and working model, and an opportunity to examine how practitioners in allied fields, as well as the archival sphere, can work with theorists to increase the understanding of all.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Redhead, Ms Adele
Authors: Redhead, A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies

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