Friday, 6 July 2012

Defining the Scholarly Edition

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The current focus of INKE extending into the coming year is the scholarly edition.  This was an opening gambit from the Textual Studies team as INKE began to think about how we might re-imagine this well developed print genre in the digital medium.

Scholarly editions are moving targets, both diachronically and synchronically, which means that any single definition will be provisional, but also that the scholarly edition is inherently a rich manifestation of a diverse range åçof practices. 

Peter Shillingsburg has recently defined scholarly editing with a strong emphasis on the materiality of the text: “The core goal of all scholarly editing (regardless of medium) is to provide a reliable text of a historical work and allow readers to see or feel or sense the historical materialities and contexts of the work. This contrasts with most Internet-available texts from which the materiality of the source book has been stripped away like a banana peel” (“Impact” 22). His definition and the distinction it relies upon might not be universally accepted, but it is a helpful point of reference as we consider both what might be gain and what might be lost in moving scholars editing from the page to the screen.

Shillingsburg links his definition to a list of specific desiderata for digital scholarly editions (Gutenberg 92-3), all of which might translate into specific affordances that could be modelled and implemented in prototypes. In that spirit, and for INKE’s purposes, we find that scholarly editions tend to have at least some of the following characteristics:
  • they account for the text’s transmission over time, including changes made by the creator of the present edition
  • they account for alternate versions of the text
  • they provide additional information to explain or comment upon the text
  • they provide an instance of the text
  • they include finding mechanisms for sub-sets (word, section, chapter, etc.) of the text
Works Cited

Peter Shillingsburg. From Gutenberg to Google. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006.

Peter Shillingsburg. “The Impact of Computers on the Art of Scholarly Editing.” Electronic Publishing: Politics and Pragmatics. Ed. Gabriel Egan. Toronto & Tempe, AZ: Iter/Arizona Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2010. 17–29.

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