By Paris O'Donnell, on 14 May 2011
On Monday 9th May a group of actors, teachers and researchers joined us for the first Playing the Margins workshop. We gathered in the tranquil setting of the Petrie Museum to discuss annotation practices, past and present. The participants had brought along examples of texts or scripts they had annotated, and described their habits and preferences (or, in some cases, their habit of not writing in books) to the group. This discussion gave us valuable insights into the codes of behaviour governing their annotation practices. These codes varied considerably from one participant to another but were internally consistent and strongly related to the context and purpose of annotation and the ownership of the books or scripts.
There was time for participants to circulate around the annotated books on display, and we gave a short presentation on annotation practices in different periods and for dramatic and non-dramatic purposes. Finally, the participants inscribed digital images of some of the items we had displayed. We had foreseen that this would provide a relaxed and creative way for participants to record their reactions to the earlier discussion. We realised that the unfamiliar interface of the graphics tablet diverted some attention and energy from the purpose of the exercise and are thinking about different ways to structure this part of the exercise for the next workshop.
We really appreciate the contribution of all the participants, who brought a wealth of experience in performance and shared articulate and surprising insights into their annotation practices. Many thanks to Susan Stead of UCL Special Collections, who brought along examples of annotated texts, mostly from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and relayed insights from her extensive experience of researching and cataloguing early print collections. We’re also grateful to the Petrie Museum, which provided the great venue, and has its own exciting program of innovative public engagement events. Thanks also to the UCL Public Engagement Unit, which supported and funded the project as part of the AHRC-funded Train and Engage scheme and provided essential equipment for the workshop.
Notes from the editor
Paris and her project partner Sian Prosser are currently working towards their MA LIS.
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