Explore drama in 17th and 18th century

Supported by the ONB Labs service Bring your Project Katrin Dennerlein and Julia Jäger extracted the metadata of 14.000 plays from Austrian Books Online (ABO) from the time span between 1600 and 1815. Katrin and Julia are exploring aspects of language, genre and community building of dramatic texts. They also want to enrich data with the help of bibliographies and give back information about the affiliation of texts to collections of dramas to the Austrian National Library. These are their first explorations:

Languages: The language distribution is as follows: 70% of the texts are written in German, 9% in French and 6% in Italian, 4% in Dutch, 3,5% in Spanish. The remaining 4% are written in English, Latin, Hungarian and Czech and a few other languages.

Genres: With the help of generic keywords, which had originally been added manually to the card catalogues and which were later migrated in separate MARC21 fields when the catalogues were digitised, the metadata of drama texts could be identified and extracted. Dramatic genres are named as follows: Drama, Dramen, Komödie, Tragödie, Libretti, Singspiel, Burlesken, Duodramen, Melodramen, Mirakelspiele, Monologe, Oratorien, Opern, Operetten, Passionsspiele, Possen, Pastorellen, Prologe, Puppenspiele, Quodlibet, Schwänke, Stegreifkomödien, Tragikomödien, Vaudevilles, Vorspiele, Zwischenspiele. An evaluation of the genus frequency is in preparation, but is not entirely trivial, because most texts are provided with several genre names.

First case study: The drama corpus contains several large drama collections from Vienna: (Detailed bibliographic information, which also takes into account changing titles and places of publication, can be found in Reinhart Meyer, Eva Sixt (Hg.): Bibliographia dramatica et dramaticorum: kommentierte Bibliographie der im ehemaligen deutschen Reichsgebiet gedruckten und gespielten Dramen des 18. Jahrhunderts nebst deren Bearbeitungen und Übersetzungen und ihrer Rezeption bis in die Gegenwart.Tübingen: Niemeyer 1984, Abt. 1, Vol. 1-3)

  • Neues Theater von Wien. 1.–8. Th., Wien 1769–70.
  • Neue Schauspiele. Aufgeführt in den kais. königl. Theatern zu Wien. 1. –12. Bd., Preßburg (und Leipzig) 1771–75.
  • Neues Wienertheater vom Jahr 1775. 1. –6. Th., Wien [o.J.].
  • Kaiserlich=Königliches Nationaltheater. 1.–6. Bd., Wien 1778–82.
  • Im Kaiserl. Königl. Nationaltheater aufgeführte Schauspiele. 1.–6. Bd., Wien 1783.
  • Kaiserlich=Königliches National–Hoftheater. 1. –7. Bd., Wien 1783–85.

Overview of the Author Network

The authors Carlo Goldoni, Voltaire, Cornelius von Ayrenhoff, Johann Christian Brandes, Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, Friedrich Jünger and Christophe Barthelemy Fagan link these collections, and were thus highly regarded throughout the period and in various orientations of the court theatres. For a more detailed network analysis of this and other collections of dramas, see

Katrin Dennerlein: Networks of media formations. Collections of dramas in the 18th century. Appears in: Themed issue "Theatre Historiography and Digital Humanities" of the Zs. Comparatio. Journal for comparative literature, forthcoming.

PD Dr. Katrin Dennerlein, Julia Jäger
Chair of Digital Humanities and German literary history
Institut of German Philology
D 97074 Würzburg