Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Scholarly Edition: Distinguishing Different Kinds of Notes

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One challenge of complex scholarly editions is to represent different classes of information in the apparatus.  The kinds of information might include:
  •  representation of the various states and expressions of the text , most commonly variants between editions, or sometimes (usually in the case of manuscripts) authorial or editorial changes within a single text, such as additions or cancellations
  • glosses of unfamiliar words
  • paraphrases of difficult phrases or passages
  • annotations providing interpretation and clarifying references
This information is often provided in the form of annotation attached to the text.  In literary editions, these fall into two general classes: textual notes and comment notes.  For ease of use, it is desirable and often necessary to distinguish these different types of information in the apparatus.  It is especially important to distinguish textual notes from other kinds of annotation.

An example of textual notes and comment notes in a single stream but distinguished by formatting codes:

In this sample (fig. 1) from Theodore Howard Banks’ edition of Sir John Denham’s poetical works (1928), the textual notes are numbered in a continuous stream with comment notes, but they are introduced with sigla that signal their peculiar nature: an italicized number representing the year of the edition, followed by a representation of the variant found in that edition.  In the case of note 18 to the poem “The Passion of Dido for ├ćneas,” 1668 has “ayrs” instead of “Ayr,” but 1671 and 1684 are as in the edited text.   The first two notes to the new text on the bottom of the page‒“Of Prudence. Of Justice” ‒begin with no sigla, which signals that these provide commentary: in the first note, on the sources of the text; and in the second note, a gloss on the referent of “The Wells” in the first line of the text.

Fig. 1

 An example of textual notes and glosses in segregated streams:

Robert K. Turner’s edition of Thomas Haywood’s two parts of The Fair Maid of the West (fig. 2) uses a separating line and indentation to distinguish textual notes from commentary.   Both are introduced by line number and then a word or string of words from the text, italicized and terminated with a square bracket, to identify more precisely the point of reference.  Again, the textual notes use sigla to identify source texts.  In the case of note 116, “nations” is found in the current edition (“this edn” ) as well as “(Dyce’s notes)” which, as the “List of Abbreviations” tells us, refers to manuscript notes entered by Rev. Alexander Rice in the margins of his copy of the 1631 quarto.  The textual variant “nation” is the reading found in the 1631 quarto, signified by Q.  

Fig. 2

Architectural challenges in prose:

Prose poses a particular challenge for streaming different types of notes because one of the most effective modes for referencing—the line number—is not a natural element of prose structure.   In the case of Brenda Cantar’s edition of Robert Greene’s Menaphon,  two kinds of notes are signaled by two distinct notational structures.   Diamonds in the text (fig. 3) correspond to the notes in the footer, which are essentially word glosses.  Here the keywords are necessary to distinguish the diamond-marked targets in the text.  The superscript numbers (e.g. 90) are reserved for endnotes that provide fuller commentary (fig. 4), although in the running title this commentary is misleadingly referred to as "textual" commentary.

Fig. 3


Works cited:

Denham, Sir John. The Poetical Works of Sir John Denham. Ed. Theodore Howard Banks Jr.  New Haven: Yale UP, 1928.

Greene, Robert. Menaphon: Camilla’s Alarm to slumbering Euphues in his melancholy cell at Silexedra.  Ed. Brenda Cantar.  Publications of the Barnabe  Riche Society 5. Ottawa: Dovehouse, 1996.

Heywood, Thomas. The Fair Maid of the West. Parts I and II.  Ed. Robert K. Turner Jr.  Lincoln: U Nebraska P, 1967.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Varying Complexity in the Table of Contents

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In some of its architectural elements, the book's development has been toward simplification.  Take the common table of contents, for example.  In its modern form, it usually comprises a fairly simple correlation of chapter title--sometimes numbered--with a starting page number (fig. 1).  

Fig. 1. Simple representation of "Contents" in Roston, Soul of Wit (1974)
In contrast, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century books often contained fulsome and elaborate descriptions and location aids for surveying and navigating its contents.  The second edition of Daniel Rock’s The Church of Our Fathers (1905), for example, provides an elaborate summary of the main points of content in each chapter, keyed by reference numbers to the relevant location in the text.  On the first page of the “Contents,” for example, one gets a detailed itemization of nine major points discussed and numbered as section headings in chapter one, comprising a fairly granular account of its contents.  Supplied with the “part” number (the “first”), the chapter number (“1”) and page number (“18”) one can locate not only where the chapter begins, but also the page on which Rock discusses “The belief of the Anglo-Saxons in Transubstantiation.”   (The header of the page indicates the page number, of course, but also, on the recto page, the part and chapter number). 
Fig. 2. Detailed "Contents" for Rock, Church of Our Fathers (1905).
Fig. 2. Section on “The belief of the Anglo-Saxons in Transubstantiation”
with page numbers of the original edition indicated in parentheses: “(20)” and “(21).”

This book offers another and peculiar (though potentially very helpful) feature of navigating its content: page numbers, in parentheses, marking the page divisions of the original edition of Rock’s text.  Someone (whether Burke in the first edition, or, in the posthumous second edition, the editor or publisher) was very considerate of the reader in providing intelligent representation and location aids to the reader.

Works Cited

Rock, Daniel. The Church of Our Fathers as Seen in St. Osmund’s Rite for the Cathedral of Salisbury. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. London: John Murray, 1905.
Roston, Murray. The Soul of Wit: A Study of John Donne.  Oxford: OUP, 1974.

The forgotten encoder: Plantin, mise-en-page and some thoughts towards the future

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Designers working with digital media, particularly those with an interest in layout, should look to the early modern book for inspiration. Consider, for example, Christopher Plantin's eight-volume folio Polyglot Bible, the Biblia Sacra (Antwerp: 1568-1573). What an amazing feat. First devised by Plantin in 1566, the set was finally completed in 1573. This remarkable multilingual translation, (which is based on versions in Chaldean, Greek, Hebrew and Latin), was supervised by Arias Montano and Plantin’s Bible received royal patronage from the Spanish King, Philip II.

What always amazes me, though, is Plantin’s mise-en-page: remarkable layout, brilliant engravings, and several ancient languages set side by side. How long would it take to set a single page of Plantin’s Bible, and what compositor had the qualifications to do such work? Unfortunately, the compositors of the early modern period almost always go unnamed. Will today's encoders and web designers face a similar fate? Looking back fifty years from now, in 2061, how often we will know who did the work on a website produced in 2011? Perhaps the problem, if it is a problem, will not be whether we can identify the encoders, but if we can find the site. Just a thought….

The two images shown here are taken from the second volume of Plantin’s work. Figure 1. shows a typical opening from Plantin's Bible; figure 2. shows one of five frontispieces commissioned for the eight-volume work. Both the frontispiece and the historiated initials used to begin the different sections of the translation have been expertly handcoloured.

Images come courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. Call # G-10 00137. The Fisher has volumes 2-6, 8 of the Polyglot Bible.

Works Cited

Biblia Sacra, Hebraice, Chaldaice, Graece, & Latine. Excud. Antuerpiae : Christoph. Plantinus, 1568-1573.

Bowen, Karen L. and Dirk Imhof. Christopher Plantin and Engraved Book Illustrations in Sixteenth-Century Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Friday, 28 October 2011

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Annotations in Four Scholarly Editions

Among other things, the Modern Language Association considers the following essential in scholarly editions:

1. Explanatory annotations to various words, passages, events, and historical figures.

2. A statement, or series of statements, setting forth the history of the text and its physical forms, explaining how the edition has been constructed or represented, [and] giving the rationale for decisions concerning construction and representation. . . . Statements concerning the history and composition of the text often take the form of a single textual essay, but it is also possible to present this information in a more distributed manner.

3. Appropriate textual apparatus or notes documenting alterations and variant readings of the text, including alterations by the author, intervening editors, or the editor of this edition.

In spite of these overtures to standardized expository annotations, a quick survey of scholarly editions exposes varieties of styles of providing supplementary information.

In some cases, notes are used minimally. Consider, for instance, Albert J. Geritz’s edition of John Rastell’s The Pastyme of People and A New Boke of Purgatory. In his introduction, Geritz offers remarks on the history of the texts, their representation in his edition, their composition, and so on (indeed, all of the editions that I mention here do as much). Geritz does not provide supplementary footnotes in the body of Rastell’s prose; instead, there is a short section of notes and a glossary at the end of the book (fig. 1). Oddly, the presence of the notes and the glossary is not indicated anywhere else in the book. Without superscripted numbers or other marks in Rastell’s text to draw a reader’s attention to Geritz’s notes and glossary, one wonders how useful these tools are.

fig. 1. Geritz's notes
As in Geritz’s edition of Rastell, in their edition of Stephen Parmenius’ writings David B. Quinn and Neil M. Cheshire include annotations, unmarked in the primary text, in a commentary section following the text (fig. 2). However, they also include expository comments in footnotes at the bottom of each page of text (fig. 3). Although expository information is made obvious by the use of footnotes, the annotations in the commentary section would be readily accessible too if they were simply marked in Parmenius’ text in the manner of proper endnotes. Again, indicating the presence of annotations with running numerals in a body of text seems to be a particularly helpful, if not crucial, strategy when offering expository comments to supplement a reader’s appreciation of a text in the manner supported by the MLA.
fig. 2. Quinn and Cheshire's commentary notes

fig. 3. Quinn and Cheshire's footnotes
Jean Robertson improves somewhat on Geritz’s Rastell in his edition of Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia by using footnotes to represent variations between early manuscript and print versions of Sidney’s text (fig. 4). Expository annotations and a glossary are left until the end and are again left unindicated in the text itself. Robertson’s supplementary material is thus divided based on content. However, this division effectively makes the expository notes and glossary less accessible to readers than the footnotes on textual variations between editions. Robertson’s organization of his supplementary information in this manner does not serve the best interests of his readers.
fig. 4. Robertson's footnotes

In their edition of Thomas More’s Utopia, George Logan, Robert Adams, and Clarence Miller offer annotations in more accessible, straightforward manner than the previous three examples do. There is no commentary section or glossary at the end of the book; that is, supplements are not divided based on content. Instead, all expository material is placed in footnotes at the bottom of each page (fig. 5). A range of information is thus made readily available and, significantly, apparent to readers.
fig. 5. Logan, Adams, and Miller's footnotes 

Although annotations and contextual supplements are required elements of scholarly editions, this brief survey highlights the lack of standardization not only in the form but also the functionality of their notational structures. It may seem intuitive, but the accessibility of annotations is a key part of their usefulness.

Works Cited

“Guidelines for Editors of Scholarly Editions.” Modern Language Association. October 2, 2011.

More, Thomas. Utopia. Edited by George M. Logan, Robert M. Adams, and Clarence H. Miller. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Parmenius, Stephen. The New Found Land of Stephen Parmenius: The Life and Writings of a Hungarian Poet, Drowned on a Voyage from Newfoundland, 1583. Edited and translated by David B. Quinn and Neil M. Cheshire. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972.

Rastell, John. The Pastyme of People and A New Boke of Purgatory. Edited and introduced by Albert J. Geritz. New York: Garland Publishing, 1985.

Sidney, Philip. The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. Edited and introduced by Jean Robertson. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Case study: the shifting form of the table of contents in Judith Drake's An Essay in Defence of The Female Sex (1696)

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Judith Drake's Essay in Defence of The Female Sex (1696, formerly attributed to Mary Astell) has no major structural breaks dividing its content into books, chapters, or sections.  Perhaps the author or printer thought the work too short to warrant such divisions.  This lack of explicit structural divisions may account for the absence of a table of contents, though some of the functionality of the table of contents is provided elsewhere.  At the very entry-point of the book, on the title page, the major elements of content are listed (a series of "characters" that are depicted therein--"A Pedant," "A Squire," "A Beau," etc.) along with an indication of the larger framing genre ("In a Letter, to a Lady") to give a summary of what the reader can expect to find inside, but all without page numbers.  The other elements of the book contents in the preliminaries--a dedicatory letter, a preface to the reader, and a commendatory poem on the work by James Drake--are easy to distinguish by their physical form, and they are conventionally placed in the front of the book, so they are easy to locate.  The former two elements also have running titles ("Dedication," and "Preface") to aid navigation.
fig. 1. Title page of Drakes An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex (1696).

In the main body of the book, marginal notes are the only markers of a new section of content (e.g."Character of a Vertuoso" [sic] fig. 2). 

fig. 2 Marginal note marking the start of a new section of content

The one element of the book's architecture that gives an explicit signal of representing "THE CONTENTS" comes not in the form of a table correlating section breaks with line numbers, but rather an index at the back of the book, an example of how close in function these two navigational aids are (fig. 3).  In some cases, these subject headings, like the list of contents on the title page, are marked in the margins of the text (fig. 2).

fig. 3 "Contents" as index
The images in this entry are of a copy in the Boston Public Library and were taken from the Internet Archive:

Works cited:

Drake, Judith. An essay in defence of the female sex:  in which are inserted the characters of a pedant, a squire, a beau, vertuoso, a poetaster, a city-critick &c. in a letter to a lady. London, 1696.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Augmented Reality Book

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Augmented reality could provide an interesting point of crossover between the e-book and the traditional printed work where the two exist in a symbiotic relationship. Or is this just another version of the "enhanced" book with a cd in the back that no one ever uses?

Augmented Reality Book from marklukas on Vimeo.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

INKE Panel at Digital Humanities 2011

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INKE researchers from the Interface Design team Geoffrey Rockwell, Stan Ruecker, Mihaela Ilovan, and Daniel Sondheim presented a panel at Digital Humanities 2011: Big Tent Digital Humanities at Stanford University. The panel was titled "The Interface to the Collection" and consisted of short papers discussing the interface across print/electronic corpora and presentations of new interfaces to corpora. Mihaela Ilovan presented an interesting animation of the evolution of the Perseus Project interface from its early HyperCard on CD-Rom days:

Rockwell and Ruecker were also involved in two workshops before the conference on Visualization for Literary History and Text Analysis with Voyeur. (You can see the script to the Voyeur one at DH2011 Voyeur Tools.)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Swiss Manuscript with Multiple Levels of Commentary

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This early 12th century Swiss manuscript page (University of Saskatchewan Ege MS1) shows a page designed for annotation by later readers.

The central column of text is from the Book of John. It was flanked by two columns of commentary and was written with sufficient leading (space between lines) to allow for interlinear glosses. Over the next century readers added annotations to all four margins.