When recording to tape became accessible in the 1960s, artists began documenting literary performances and conversations. But most of these audio archives remain inaccessible or in danger of decay. Those that do end up being digitized are largely unreachable by a wide audience.

SpokenWeb, a cross-university project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), is making recordings from Canada and beyond more available. The project hopes to foster collaborative studies of this literary history and propose new ways to engage with the material as a learning tool.

Jason Camlot, a SpokenWeb researcher and professor of English in the Faculty of Arts and Science, leads the Concordia partnership with Montreal’s Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival.

There are a number of SpokenWeb events featured in the 2019 edition of the festival, which runs from May 2 to 5. They are designed to provide the general public with a better understanding of the archival initiative.

“Knowledge mobilization is an important part of our research program,” Camlot says. “Our partnership with Blue Met is one great example of how we will deepen our connections with community organizations and literary festivals in the years to come.”

William St. Hilaire, president and artistic director of Blue Met, says SpokenWeb helps us understand where we’re going by revisiting where we’ve been.

“The voices of the past are always alive, and they blend with those of the festival’s authors to deepen our understanding of social issues — and of course, for our pure pleasure,” she says.

Here are the SpokenWeb events to catch at this year’s festival. All are open to everyone.

Deep Curation
Friday, May 3, 2 p.m. at the Hôtel 10, Salle Jardin
Cost: Free

Performing the Archive: A Remix
Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m. at La Vitrola
Cost: Free

The Words and Music Show
Saturday, May 4, 10 p.m. at the Hôtel 10, Salle Godin
Cost: $7

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