British Theatre Criticism (2010-2020) Through Digital Technologies

Mylene MAIGNANT (PhD student/ Université PSL)
, updated on
17 July 2021
Merch Hüsey _ Unsplash

At the intersection between data science and English literature, this projects seeks to examine ten years of the Londonian contemporary theatre (2010 – 2020) through the eyes of two communities: the journalistic one on the one hand, and the digital one on the other hand.


Since 2010 in England, a wave of blogs written by authors coming from various horizons has arisen on the Internet. Students, theatre professionals but also mere amateurs began publishing their own theatre reviews. These new independent voices in the digital space progressively redefine the shape of classic journalistic criticism. Although discreet, they offer a new vision of the history of Londonian theatres. By doing so, it sets itself apart from the canon of mainstream journalism. By focusing on 40 000 theatre reviews regarding London plays (2010 – 2020), this research aims to examine the differences and similarities between these two communities. This work is at the crossroad between data science and theatre studies. While the former is required in order to analyse these thousands of pieces of information, the latter is necessary to develop a more thorough analysis.




Since 2018, this PhD has been fully funded by the EUR Translitterae at the Ecole normale supérieure. Mylène Maignant is at the origin of this work. She obtained two Master’s degrees, the first one in English literature (Sorbonne University) and the second one in Digital Humanities (Paris Sciences et Lettres). For six months, two interns have been very helpful in shaping this project. Damien Pellé, student in Linguistics at Poitiers University, participated to creating the corpora. Gaëtan Brison, former student at EDHEC Business School and now data scientist, contributed to implementing the algorithms. A website has been created in order to show the first results and the future paths they intend to explore.

  • Thierry PoibeauDirector of Research at CNRS working at LATTICE, research unit of the Ecole normale supérieure
  • Damien Pellé (part-time internship, 6 months), Poitiers University), Gaëtan Brison (full-time internship, 5 months), EDHEC Business School)


  • June 24 - 25, 2021. "Reception and the Digital: When Theatre Criticism Goes Through the Computer Screen," Conference "Reception: Contemporary Perspectives," Organized by Jagna Oltarzewska, Anne-Valérie Dulac, and Cécile Beaufils (VALE Laboratory, Sorbonne University), Sorbonne University, Paris.
  • June 18, 2019. "British Theatre Criticism considered in the light of digital technology," Doctoral Student Study Day, Organized by doctoral students of the LATTICE laboratory (Ecole normale supérieure / Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle), Lattice Laboratory, Montrouge.