Saturday, 8 September 2012

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First published in 1704, Jonathan Swift’s A Tale of a Tub satirizes a host of contemporary religious and political issues. The three sections that constitute the Tale—the titular “A Tale of a Tub,” “A Full and True Account of the Battel, Fought Last Friday, Between the Antient and the Modern Books in St. James’s Library,” and “A Discourse Concerning the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit”— also take aim at the conventions of modern writing, especially the tendency of writers, editors, and publishers to affix extended prefatory and supplementary materials like dedications, introductions, annotations, and so on to main bodies of text. Robert Hauptman notes that Swift “ludicrously multiplies” (49) supplementary sections and notes throughout the Tale. Swift begins the first section of his 1710 edition with a mock list of other treatises by the author of the Tale (who is figured as an anonymous recluse), an apology (with postscript), two dedicatory epistles, a note from the fictional bookseller/editor/publisher (i.e. Swift) to the reader, and a preface. The second and third sections are introduced by two notes from the bookseller to the reader, another preface, and a dedicatory epistle (with a different addressee than either of the first two epistles). All three sections and their attendant prefatory remarks are annotated both in the margins and in footnotes. The result is a dizzying array of voices, motives, and intentions that is rather more disorienting than edifying. The 1710 edition is also illustrated by a series of engravings but these, again, are of questionable assistance to the reader. One engraving, for example, represents the author’s description of the lunacy of students and professors and the bedlam they create and inhabit (fig. 1).

Fig 1: Bedlam

Fittingly, critic Marcus Walsh maintains that Swift’s paratexts are “elements in the theatre of obfuscation with which Swift surrounded the Tale” (xxxii). That is, the mass of paratextual information that Swift, the parodist, provides is less supplementary and clarifying than digressive and confusing. By demonstrating the disruptive effect of the paratext gone mad, Swift satirizes the work of writers, editors, and publishers whose ham-fisted adoption of paratextual conventions confounds and exhausts readerly interest. In this sense, the obfuscatory nature of Swift’s paratexts is an extension and amplification of his satire.

Two important examples of obfuscatory paratexts in Swift’s Tale are the list of other treatises by the author at the beginning and the annotations throughout. The list, titled “Treatises wrote by the same Author, most of them mentioned in the following Discourses; which will be speedily published,” falls between the title page and the author’s initial apology for the work (as an aside, Swift’s hilariously over-the-top use of litotes in the apology mercilessly parodies the conventional humility of prefatory rhetoric). The list (fig. 2) is thus placed as one might expect, but the treatises which it describes surely defy readerly expectations.
Fig. 2: List of treatises
In general, lists of this sort serve to indicate the themes and trajectories of an author’s oeuvre. These lists allow readers, at a glance, to identify patterns of authorial interest. Because they are by their very nature referential and bibliographic, such lists can be useful tools for readers who are looking for more to read by the same author. That is, these lists can effectively market and recommend an author’s work to a reader. Swift’s list, by contrast, is baffling. Although the author refers to most of the listed treatises in the main body of the Tale, the list’s place at the very beginning of the book confronts the reader at the outset with a frustrating set of riddles: what could the relationship possibly be between “A Panegyrical Essay upon the Number THREE” and “A general History of Ears,” and how will any of these absurdly-titled treatises be referenced in the Tale? Who is the author of these works, who seems, judged from this list alone, irredeemably eccentric? Swift’s list forces the reader to pause and ask “what am I getting myself into?” This is hardly a desired aim of what might, in most uses, be characterised as an unobtrusive bit of paratext.

Nevertheless, as Walsh points out in his annotations to the Cambridge Press edition, each of the listed treatises does make sense according to themes developed in the Tale or in other satires Swift planned to write. For example, “An Analytical Dicourse upon Zeal, Histori-theo-physi-logically considered” mocks the use of pseudo-scientific terms such as physico-theological and physico-mechanical by writers like William Wotton and Samuel Parker, whom Swift criticizes throughout the Tale as pedants and philosophically-suspect (Swift, 317–8). “A Voyage into England, by a Person of Quality in Terra Australis incognita, translated from the original” mirrors an idea that Swift intended to write a book about (see Swift, 318). So while the list at first seems to deviate entirely from the norm, the titles do in fact correspond, as a set of inside jokes, with the satiric thrusts of the Tale. As a parody of other such lists, this one is outwardly obfuscatory, but it does, on further analysis, contain information consistent with the insights into authorial interests, trajectories, and so forth that can be gleaned from more apparently conventional lists of this sort.

Swift’s annotations also play with expected conventions of usage. His marginal notes, for the most part, perform the very conventional task of referencing paraphrased and quoted authors. Likewise, many of his footnotes elucidate the text by a process of adduction; they identify and bring to bear explanatory and illustrative passages, allusions, sources, analogues, and contexts (see Walsh, lxxix). However, the annotations are frequently parodic as well. Swift uses them to heighten and continue his jokes. Even though Swift wrote all of the notes himself, in his prefatory apology, Swift notes that “The Author is informed, that the Bookseller has prevailed on several Gentlemen, to write some explanatory Notes, for the goodness of which he is not to answer, having never seen any of them, nor intends it, till they appear in Print, when it is not unlikely that he may have the Pleasure to find twenty Meanings, which never enter’d into his Imagination” (14). In one example (fig. 3) the author writes, in the body of the text, that he affixed multiple titles to his work out of deference to literary custom. In a marginal note, the bookseller writes that the title page of the author’s original manuscript was torn, and that many of the book’s titles were lost. Using the personae of the author and the bookseller, and balancing the author’s purple prose with the bookseller’s pragmatism, Swift points out the extraneous, superficial, and ultimately dispensable nature of extended titles. The point would simply not be as effectively or humorously made without the author’s enthusiastic participation in the conceit and the bookseller’s sober notational reminder of material realities.
Fig. 3: A note by the bookseller
Some notes are presented as having been written by the critic William Wotton, a target of Swift’s. These notes are invariably pedantic and rambling, and they tend to miss the subtleties and nuance of Swift’s prose. Other notes are absurd. These satirize the tendency of authors to attach notes of questionable value to their documents. At one point, for example, Swift notes that “The Egyptians worshipped a monkey, which animal is very fond of eating lice, styled here as creatures that feed on human gore.” Edifying stuff, indeed. At another point, Swift writes that “I was told by an eminent divine, whom I consulted on this point, that two barbarous words [“Bythus and Sigé”], with that of Acamoth and its qualities, as here set down, are quoted from Irenaeus” (see Hauptman, 49). In this last case, Swift’s target is authors who do not reveal their sources of information but instead reference mysterious, unnamed “eminent divines.” In short, while Swift’s annotations do seem to perform many of the tasks we associate with annotations, very few of them are untouched by his desire to parody and satirize literary conventions.

Without getting into Swift’s apology, his dedicatory epistles, his prefatory notes by the fictional bookseller, and his other attendant prefaces and paratexts, it will be enough to say that readers of A Tale of a Tub, particularly readers accustomed to very dependable, reliable paratexts—paratexts that fade into the background of one’s experience with a text—would be well-advised to leave such expectations at the door, or the front cover, as it were.

Works Cited
Hauptman, Robert. Documentation. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, 2008.
Swift, Jonathan. A Tale of a Tub. In A Tale of a Tub and Other Works, edited by Marcus Walsh, 1–136. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Rhetorical Index in Richard Bernard's Thesaurus Biblicus

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Bernard, Richard. Thesaurus Biblicus, Seu Promptuarium Sacrum: Whereunto are Added all the Marginall Readings, with the Words of the Text, and Many Words in the Text Expounded by the Text, all Alphabetically Set Downe Throughout the Bible: In the End is Annexed an Abstract of the Principal Mattters [Sic] in the Holy Scripture. London: Imprinted by Felix Kingston, and are to be sold at his house in Pater-Noster-Row, at the Signe of the Gilded Cock, 1644.

This is a strange beast, defying easy generic categorization.  It certainly is not a concordance, as Bernard himself makes clear in his preface to the reader (for a proper concordance, he refers to the reader to either Cotton's or Newman's: these seem to be the standards ones).  And yet it looks a lot like other concordances of the period (and the DNB entry on Bernard calls it a concordance).  

Bernard's Thesaurus Biblicus (not a concordance)
... with ...

Samuel Newman's A Concordance to the Holy Scriptures (1658)

And the Thesaurus and the Concordance share a similar indexical function: identifying common content and pointing to various locations where it and be found.  The main difference between the Thesaurus and a concordance is that a concordance correlates content words with their various occurrences in the Bible (as in Cotton and Newman), whereas the Thesaurus organizes its material according to subject words, which includes both occurrences of the word itself in the biblical text and instances where the text exemplifies the subject. For example, under “Abase” Bernard includes verses that use the word (all of the one that Cotton's Concordance includes) and also verses that exemplify the idea without naming it. Bernard is also more selective in his headwords, including only words that he deems topically important. He also provides paraphrases of the subject term, along with instances of what appear to be Latin cognates. 

The title, calling it a holy storehouse, places this book in the tradition of aids to rhetorical invention (such as Cawdrey's Rich Storehouse of Similes): there is even, under the section heading "Simile," a section of similes arranged under alphabetical heads from A-Z. Editor John Conant, in his preface to the volume, picks up on this rhetorical function in his historical contextualization of the Thesaurus: "Chrysostome likens the holy scripture, to a treasury, to a fountaine, to an Apothecaries shop: Irome, to a table richly furnished with variety of delicates: Ephrem, to an armorie: Basil, to a looking glasse: Chrysostom againe, to a pleasant garden; and Cassian, to a fruitfull field" (sig. A3). Many of these metaphors were used in the Renaissance in discussions of poetics and rhetoric. For both Canant and Bernard, the Thesaurus is all about enabling the reader in the Biblical environment (A3-[A3v]). Much of Bernard's preface consists of instruction of the reader in how s/he can make use of the Thesaurus

A postscript on marginalia:
An interesting notion of the "marginal" as expressed in “The Diverse Marginall Readings with the Text.” It is interesting in that Bernard seems not to be referring to a physical margin. That is, he is not collecting readings found in marginalia. While the entry under "Accept thy sacrifice" does paraphrase a marginal gloss in the KJV for Psalm 20.3, in the case of “Abase” it does not. What he does provide for “Abase” is a paraphrase—“bring low”--, which is the kind of thing one might expect in a marginal gloss for Job 40.11. So, marginal now has a kind of metaphorical meaning: a gloss is a string of text that is removed from the object of focus, the centre of view, but related to it, and it is the kind of material one might very well relegate to the physical margin of a book. That said, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of difference between the kind of material (and its rationale) provided in the “The Diverse Marginall Readings with the Text” and that provided in the Thesaurus.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Deckled edges

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n. deckle: "a contrivance in a paper-making machine to confine the pulp within the desired limits, and determine the size or width of the sheet" (OED).

adj. deckled edge: "the rough uncut edge of a sheet of paper, formed by the deckle" (OED).

Interesting article demonstrating how the culture of the book is becoming increasingly strange and inscrutable to those born-digital: "Deckle Detecting" in The Economist, 15July 2012.
The deckle edge was unavoidable until the 19th century, a byproduct of the papermaking process. Since it became unnecessary, the rough edge gradually turned into a status symbol. Advertisements for books in the late 1800s are rife with mentions of a "deckle edge" alongside the fine paper on which a title was printed. But even that aspect has begun to fade as modern book buyers do not know what to make of it.
If the deckled edge is an index of the diminishing symbolic power of the print, is there a corresponding feature of the digital artefact that bespeaks its social prestige, perhaps also a vestige of a bygone era?

Friday, 6 July 2012

Manicules working with pilcrows: a couple of curious examples

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Another follow-up to the entry on "Manicules" by Bialkowski et al.  In this example from Eunuchus in a 1499 edition of Terence’s comedies ( sig. [H2v], at the start of Act 4 scene 3, not numbered in the text), the manicule is used in a curious way.  At the top of the page, the manicule is extended by a line that more precisely locates the beginning of the passage of interest in the commentary, which seems to correspond to a similar manicule pointing to the corresponding place in Terrence’s text.   A marginal note “absente nobis” in MS (highlighted by a pilcrow) further locates the point of interest.  

Further down the margin, the manicule is used together with a pilcrow in the text, again (evidently) to locate the beginning of the passage of interest, which interest is further indicated by the marginal note “Temulentus. a.” which identifies both the masculine and the feminine of the adjective for “intoxicated.”

Work cited:

Terence. Comoediae. [In urbe Argentia]: [Johann (Reinhard) Gruninger], 1499.      
Fisher inc 00134

Defining the Scholarly Edition: a reconsideration

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It might be a good idea to step back (following on the previous post) and make a distinction between the scholarly edition and the critical edition.  We might define the former as any instantiation of a text that is produced according to some scholarly principles for use by scholars. Thus for some scholarly uses, the establishment of a text and analysis of its history and variant states might be of foremost importance, as is the case for many literary texts designed for use by professional scholars. For other scholarly purposes, the contextual information and commentary around the text (the introductions and the annotations, for example) might be the most important work of the edition.  This might be true for texts designed for student scholars, or for use in disciplines other than literary studies.  Even in literary studies, the textual work of an edition is more important for some works and some historical periods than others.

A student edition of Terence, designed to enable the student to make inter-linear translations (1521)
Fisher Rare Book Library B-10 5336

A scholarly edition of Terence with an emphasis on commentary (1544)
Fisher Rare Book Library hutt 00012

In his emphasis on the textual work of the scholarly edition (as opposed to the contextualizing work) Shillingsburg arguable blurs the line between the scholarly edition in general and the critical edition in particular.  A critical edition focuses more fully on the text. D. C. Greetham defines a scholar edition as an edition that attempts to establish a text through the exercise of editorial judgment and/or choice, as opposed to merely reproducing a text already in existence (347).  It should contain “an apparatus that presents the evidence used in the text’s construction and that lists the variants of the authoritative states... ”; and “since critical editions are eclectic [i.e., in the sense of requiring choice among variant alternatives],” their preparers “must have some principle of eclecticism, some basis on which to judge the authority of the variant readings and states of the text and on which to make emendations” (Williams and Abbott, 57).

Works Cited

Greetham, D. C. Textual Scholarship. New York: Garland, 1994.

Terence. Comoediae. Paris, 1521.

--------. Comoediae. Venice, 1544.

Williams, Bill and Craig Abbott. An Introduction to Bibliography and Textual Studies. 2d ed. New York: MLA, 1989.

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.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A Follow-up Spotlight on the Opening as a Meaning Making Device: The interface of the early modern polyglot bibles

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Galey in his ArchBook entry on "The Opening" makes the case that in many ways, it is the opening, not the single page, that should be considered the basic reading surface of the printed book.  The page opening as reading interface is essential to the great polyglot Bibles of the 16th and 17th centuries,[1] which in their fullest development required two full pages to present all of the parallel texts in one view to the reader.  This fact of publication is important, yet strangely (though as Galey suggests, perhaps not surprisingly) overlooked by a recent scholar of the London polyglot who describes this book as a “triumph of technology” for “being the first Bible to print all the versions side-by-side on the same page” (Miller, 467 my emphasis).  Indeed, it is an essential feature of these publications that the opening, not the page, constitutes the full reading interface.
The basic form of the polyglot Bible was established by the first of these,[2] the Complutensian polyglot (Alcalá, 1514-1517), which presents the Hebrew, Latin Vulgate, and Greek Septuagint (interlined with a Latin translation) in parallel columns across the top three-quarters of the page, with (for the Pentateuch only) Onkelos’s Chaldee/Aramaic targum (i.e. paraphrase)[3] together with an accompanying Latin translation across the bottom.  The recto and verso each contain a full set of texts, but they are presented in mirror-image to each other: moving from left to right across the opening, Hebrew, Latin Vulgate, and Greek Septuagint on the verso, then in reverse, Greek, Latin, Hebrew on the recto; similarly, along the bottom of the opening, the Aramaic, in Hebrew characters, with a Latin translation (verso), and then the Latin followed by the Aramaic (recto).  In this polyglot, the full set of parallel texts fits on a single page, but the mirrored image of these from verso to recto implies that the full opening—verso and recto together—is the basic interface of this book.  The centrality of the Latin Vulgate in this page layout is curious but easy to explain.  The theological rationale is articulated by James Lyell:
The position of honour given to the Vulgate ... is emphasised in [this bible’s] Second Preface, where it is stated that as our Lord was crucified between two thieves, so the Latin Church stands between the Synagogue and the Greek Church (29).
This explanation is based on ecclesiological (the pre-eminence of the Latin church) rather than textual grounds, for the whole project was undertaken with the conviction that biblical scholarship must go back to a study of the primary languages (Lyell, 27, 29).  The centrality of the Latin Vulgate text on the page might also be rationalized on the basis of the reading environment.  For scholars of the period, the Latin Vulgate was the familiar version of the Bible, the centre of their textual knowledge.  Even for many theologians and humanist scholars of the period, the original languages existed on the margins of their understanding, so the Vulgate remained the central reference point.  It is less easy to explain why the Hebrew and Greek are arranged in mirrour-image to each other across the opening, but again, the layout of the page might have been a factor.  The outer margins of the pages provide root words for the Hebrew and Aramaic texts, but not for the Greek.  By keeping the Hebrew texts on the outer edges of the page−both the verso and the recto−the printer (perhaps with input from Cardinal Ximenes, the patron and supervising editor of the project) could relegate the most marginal matter to the outer edges and maintain clearly justified columns toward the centre of the opening.  The layout of the page thus represents the priority of the material with respect to the interests of the reader, with the familiar Latin at the centre and the original-language helps on the margins.  The rationale for the arrangement of the Aramaic at the bottom of the page is less obvious: why is the Aramaic in the centre of the opening on verso and recto, separated from the root words in the margins by the Latin translation?  It may be that the Latin here serves a marginal function (i.e. it is not the vulgate), as a kind of gloss on the original text.  The opening is much less important in the New Testament portion of this bible, where the principal parts are only the Greek original and the Latin translation.  Rather than root words in the margin, the page provides marginal cross references and, on rare occasion (only five in the whole New Testament) marginal annotations (Lyell, 34, 44).


figure1:  The opening of Exodus 2 from the Complutensian Polyglot.  Internet Archive CCL.

figure 2:  The opening of 1 John 5 in the Complutensian Polyglot, 
with a rare marginalannotation in the footer.  Internet Archive CCL.

The 1569 Biblia Sacra, Hebraice, Chaldaice, Graece et Latine, known as the “Antwerp or Plantin’s Polyglot” (named after its printer, Christophe Plantin) presents, across a single, full opening, four different versions in four columns: the Hebrew; the Latin Vulgate; Arias Montano’s revision of Xantes Pagninus’s Latin version from the Greek[4]; and the Greek Septuagint.[5]  At the bottom runs another parallel series: the Chaldean Aramaic version on the left, with a paraphrase in Latin on the right.  The antecedent languages are easily distinguished by their character sets, and the two Latin texts are distinguished by use of regular (Vulgate) and italics font (Arias Montano’s version).  The opening has a similar mirrored effect, with the two Latin versions situated in the middle of the opening, even though this places them in inverse relation to their original language antecedents.

figure 3: The Antwerp polyglot (1569), opening at 1 Kings (i.e. 1 Samuel).  
 Fisher Rare Book Library CCL.

 The last and most mature of the great polyglots is Brian Walton’s Biblia Sacra Polyglotta (1655-7), commonly known as the “London Polyglot.”  Like the Antwerp polyglot, it presents its texts across the full opening, containing now (for the Pentateuch) a total of thirteen discrete texts in one view: Hebrew (with word for work Latin interlineated) in parallel with the Latin Vulgate, the Greek (Septuagint) with the standard Latin translation that predated Jerome’s Vulgate; Onkeloss “Chaldee” (Aramaic) targum (parphrase) with a Latin translation, [two texts of?] the Samaritan Pentateuch with Latin translation, and along the bottom, the Syriac and Arabic versions, each with Latin translations.[6]  Again, the primacy of Latin as the familiar language is evident in the matching of original language texts with Latin translations.  Walton’s 19th-century biographer, Henry J. Todd, quotes in full Walton’s published description of his planned work, where he explains the many advantages of the polyglot format:
The several languages shall be printed in several columns, whereby they may all be presented to the reader’s view at once; whereas in the other Editions divers great volumes must be turned over to compare them together (42).[7]
This multi-sectioned opening provides a maximized space that correlates by implicit links a series of parallel texts from diverse sources, presenting a scholar’s entire desktop in one viewing interface.

figure 4: Walton’s London Polyglot, opening at Exodus 1.  
 Fisher Rare Book Library CCL.

As is the case with other developments in bible technology, this innovation of the parallel text interface grew from the demands and needs presented by the textual material itself and the intellectual framework and methods of its readers.  For Walton, as for the earlier humanists, it was the need to purge received translations of their error and bias by having recourse to the text in its antecedent languages for comparison across all versions, a task that previously would have required a very large desk full of open folios.[8]


[1] These are the Complutensian Polyglot (Spain, 1514-1517); the Plantin or Antwerp polyglot (Antwerp, 1569 and 1572); and the Paris Polyglot (1645); and Walton’s London Polyglot (Todd 34-5).
[2] Brian Walton in fact found his ultimate source of inspiration in the idea of Origen’s Hexpala and its columnar arrangement of different Hebrew and Greek texts in parallel, and regretted the loss of these artefacts to history (Miller 473).
[3] Lyell calls it a “paraphrase” (28).  The genre of the targum is ambiguous, sometimes considered translation, sometimes commentary: “paraphrase” captures some of this ambiguity.
[4] Versions of the Bible” in The Original CatholicEncyclopedia: “Xantes Pagninus, O.P. (d. 1541), made an inter-linear version of both the Old and New Testaments from the original languages, which by its literal fidelity pleased Christians and Jews and was much used by the Reformers. A revision of this translation resulting in a text even more literal was made by Arias Montano. His work appeared in the Antwerp Polyglot (1572).”
[5] See Elly Cockx-Indestege.
[6] The configuration of versions and translations vary across the Bible, depending on which were available of each section of the Bible: the Psalms, Canticles, and the New Testament, for example, include an Ethiopic version.
[7] Todd cites this source as a pre-publication proposal, published in 1652 with the title A Brief Description of an Edition of the bible in the Original Hebrew, Samaritan, and Greek, with the most ancient translations of the Jewish and Christian Churches, viz. the Sept. Greek, Chaldee, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, Persian &c. and the Latin Versions of them all: a new Apparatus, &cThis echoes Walton’s expressed vision (in manuscript) for
an edition in the originall Languages, with the most auncient Translations according to better and more authentick coppies then those of the former editions, with addition of sundry thinges usefull wch are wanting in them all, and the same digested in such order, whereby the severall Languages may be represented to the readers view at once, and the whole maybe printed in a few and easy volumes, and sold at the price aforesaid (quoted in Miller from British Library, Additional mss 32,093, fol. 333r).  
In his advertisement and prospectus (reprinted by Todd) Walton is perhaps alluding to his arrangement of the parallels texts on the page when he refers to the benefit of having “the several languages digested in better method,” i.e. in comparison with the previous polyglots (36).
[8] Miller notes that for Walton, working in a period of considerable strife and conflict in the national church, the polyglot was a way of combating sectarianism which he and others like him believed to be driven by ignorance (470-1).  The diversity of text together in one opening might rightly be considered an emblem of erudition overcoming the divisions caused by ignorance.


Arias Montano, Benito, et al. Biblia Sacra, Hebraice, Chaldaice, Graece Et Latine: Philippi II. Reg. Cathol. Pietate, Et Studio Ad Sacrosanctae Ecclesiae Vsum, Christoph Plantinus Excud. Excud. Antuerpiae: Christoph Plantinus, 1569; 1572.

Cockx-Indestege, Elly. “1569 -1572 Christopher Plantin’s Biblia regi.”  Library of the University of Amsterdam.

Harris, Fletcher. “Milton and Walton’s Biblia Sacra Polyglotta (1657).” MLN 42.2 (Feb 1927): 84-7.

----. Milton’s Semitic Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1926.

Lyell, James.  Cardinal Ximines: Statesman, Ecclesiastic, Soldier, and Man of Letters with an Account of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible.  London: Grafton, 1917.

Miller, Peter N.  “The ‘Antiquarianization’ of Biblical Scholarship and the London Polyglot Bible.”  JHI 62 (2001): 463-82.

Todd, Henry J. Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Walton. 2 vols. London, 1821.

In Folio: Rare Volumes in the Stanford University Libraries.”  Stanford University Libraries.

Saurat, Denis.  Milton, Man and Thinker.  London: Jonathan Cape, [1924].

Walton, Brian, Wenceslaus Hollar, and Pierre Lombart. Biblia Sacra Polyglotta: Complectentia Textus Originales, Hebraicum, Cum Pentateucho Samaritano, Chaldaicum, Graecum, Versionumque Antiquarum, Samaritanae, Graecae LXXII Interp., Chaldaicae, Syriacae, Arabicae, Aethiopicae, Persicae, Vulg. Lat. Quicquid Comparari Poterat. Cum Textuum & Versionum Orientalium Translationibus Latinis: Ex Vetustissimis Mss. Undique Conquisitis, Optim¡sque Exemplaribus Impressis, Summƒ Fide Collatis: Quae in Prioribus Editionibus Deerant Suppleta ...: Opus Totum in Sex Tomos Tributum. 6 vols. London: Thomas Roycroft, 1655-1657.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Criteria for Creating User-Friendly Interactive Network Visualizations

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As a newcomer to the Digital Humanities, I first encountered network visualizations in early January of 2012; given my near-total inexperience and ignorance, there are doubtlessly more qualified people to write about the positive and negative qualities of such visualizations. However, I may have something valuable to contribute, precisely because I have attempted to navigate and make sense of these visualizations as an outsider.

When I began examining interactive network visualizations, I often found the internal logic and criteria used to create them baffling or arbitrary; however, I also found some visualizations to be completely intuitive. In an attempt to put my finger on the differences between these two sets of visualizations, I composed a list of features without which I was invariably lost. Eventually, this list grew into a set of criteria for generating relatively transparent and user-friendly network visualizations. I hope this set of criteria can be of use to someone:
  1. Consider the reason for everything (including the criteria for item selection and identity, significance of physical space and distance between nodes, nature of relationships suggested by lines connecting nodes, how values are assigned to nodes, etc.), define discrete criteria, and be consistent
  2.  Explain the reasons for everything; a visualization can be useful to its creators without this step, but will not be useful (or worse still, will not be used correctly) by others unless the reasoning behind a visualization is clear; all visualizations should be accompanied by methodological explanations if they are to be of use to the wider community
  3.  Beware the argument of false analogy: the reduction of real-world items to nodes connected by lines is intrinsically metaphorical and can lead to false conclusions when nodes are used in ways that do not fit with the definitions of the nodes themselves, the nature of the relationships between them as defined in a visualization, or both; each visualization is a metaphor, and errors occur when arguments are made that take any metaphor too far; this is a particular danger when inheriting visualizations or visualization frameworks
  4.  There is a tendency for network visualizations to decrease in utility as they increase in size and complexity. However, there are ways to counter this:   
    • A text search option (a must)
    • Enabling the application of multiple filters (it is typically not enough to highlight items selected by certain criteria, and there should be a way to eliminate the other data in a refined visualization); ideally, an interactive visualization would combine predefined and user-generated filters
      • The reasoning behind these filters should be made explicit, as per points 1-3 
    • If necessary, minimize interconnectivity and network density (everything can connect to everything else, but if it does, relationships are probably defined too generally to be useful – or nodes are not defined discretely enough)
    • In the case of 3D visualizations, the depth of visualizations ought to be considered carefully; particularly in spherical visualizations, field depth often makes it difficult to see anything but the nearest surface (to such a degree that the outer surface of such a visualization may as well be opaque, for all the good its transparency does); often, opacity would be preferable, in fact, as the background noise in a 3D visualization can be extremely distracting
  5. Visualizations ought to be supplemented with a text version of the data that that is being represented (I have not yet found this, but it would be extremely useful); though unexpected patterns can sometimes “jump out” of visualizations – to use the preferred metaphor of many visualization proponents – they can also jump out of raw data
  6.  Enable an ordered way of entering complex or chaotic visualizations; something as simple as an alphabetized list of nodes linked to the visualization could make it much easier to access a visualization for a specific purpose (creating an arbitrary demarcation point is undesirable for a variety of reasons, but this would be preferable to no demarcation point)
Here are a couple of visualizations to consider:

This visualization does many things effectively. First, it provides two distinct layout options (Images 1.1 & 1.2); given the complexity of this network, the ability to change perspective is very useful.

Image 1.1

The circular mode of visualization (1.2) is particularly useful because of the lack of labels and greatly varied type size in the first mode of visualization – though the latter remains somewhat of an issue even in the second mode of visualization.

Image 1.2

Even in the first mode of visualization, steps are taken to offset the lack of visibility created by the field depth and network density. Most significantly, a text box appears with information about a given node when the mouse pointer is placed over that node (1.3).

Image 1.3

In addition, this visualization provides both a useful set of predetermined categories, which greatly reduce the displayed information when selected (1.4 & 1.5), and a functional search option.

Image 1.4
Image 1.5

Finally, while this visualization does not provide access to raw data outside of the visualization, it does provide some information (though nowhere near enough) about both the reasoning behind the visualization, and the associated data (1.6).

Image 1.6

Moebio. “Spheres: Spherical Surface of Dialogue.”

There are several issues that severely limit the utility of “Spheres.” First, the visual depth of field greatly limits the ability to be able to identify a significant number of nodes simultaneously (2.1).

Image 2.1

Even though there is a “point of vue” option that allows one to zoom in (2.2), this option does little to improve the situation; the zoom is not variable, and the pre-set zoom does not move to a distance that improves overall visibility.

Image 2.2

Although dragging the mouse causes the sphere to rotate, a large percentage of the nodes remain difficult to perceive simply because such small a portion of the nodes appear within a readable range. An option that would either flatten the sphere into two dimensions or reduce the field depth would solve this problem. In addition, a text-box that appears when the mouse pointer is placed over a node (as is shown in 1.3) would make it possible to see the connections between points on opposite ends of the sphere. As the visualization exists now, it is extremely difficult to seek and select a specific node the rear half of the sphere; connecting nodes on opposite sides of the sphere is virtually impossible.

Furthermore, the explanations for network connectivity are often arbitrary, pointless, and baffling. For instance, when selecting “pleasure” and “a white tiger,” the explanation that appears is “VWYEHRIFN” (2.3).

Image 2.3

Though “VWYEHRIFN” may mean something to someone, it means nothing to me; as nothing appeared when I entered this into google, I suspect that others are likely to find this explanation equally perplexing.

The issue here seems to be that the relationships between items are generated by the users, who are able to define or refine the relationships between any items they select. While this seems to bring an element of democratic collaboration to “Spheres,” it has the potential to undermine both the legitimacy of the connections drawn and the consistency of the types of relationships defined by the lines connecting nodes. (Incidentally, before capturing Image 2.3, I had intended to connect “pleasure” with “desire,” but as the footprint of the “a white tiger” node was too large to allow items near it to be chosen, I inadvertently selected “a white tiger.” When I repositioned the sphere and successfully connected “pleasure” with “desire,” no relationship appeared.)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Manicules: post-publication discussion

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I want to use the opening sentence from the ArchBook entry on Manicules by Voytek Bialkowski, Christine DeLuca, and Kalina Lafreniere as a starting point for some post-publication discussion.

“While a manicule (fig. 1) may vary in size, shape, and quality, ranging from the simple outline of a hand (fig. 2) to a more detailed sketch featuring ornate sleeves and cuffs (fig. 3), the unifying characteristic is that of an extended index finger pointing towards a specific selection of text.”

What is striking about images two and three referenced in the opening sentence above is how much they differ (see the entry for comparison). While ms. manicules were widely used for notetaking in books and manuscripts of the medieval and early modern periods, no two readers’ manicules ever look the same. Indeed, the manicule image shown below is particularly interesting in this regard.

Gualterus Burlaeus, Burleus super octo libros Phisicorum Venetijs, Impressa p[er] S. de Luere, iussu A. Torresani de Asula, 1501. sig. B4r. Image Courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

While at first glance it would appear we are looking at the standard pointing finger, what we are actually looking at is a quill (and an active quill) that is indexing and underlining at once. This reminds me of how personalized handwritten annotation is as an activity, and it makes me wonder if we can say the same about annotation in digital environments? I can choose a bullet, a star and any number of symbols from Microsoft Word for annotating, listing and classifying material, but the key difference is that I didn’t actually design the symbol. Does it matter that we choose a symbol rather than design it when we annotate online? Another question: How global is the history of the manicule?

Friday, 9 March 2012

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Standard Editions of Utopia

Thomas More’s Utopia, which is subject to constant editing and publication, has two modern critical editions regarded as standard by scholarly consensus: Surtz and Hexter’s 1965 Yale edition, and Logan, Adams, and Miller’s 1995 Cambridge edition. To differentiate their editions from those of other editors, justify the production of their versions, and assist readers, the editors of these two editions explain their editorial processes in relation to Utopia’s textual history. Their explanations may be regarded as exemplary because Utopia has a convoluted bibliographical lineage consisting of many variant editions. The Yale and Cambridge editorial teams provide sophisticated sets of introductory and annotative material, as well as addenda, to situate their editions.

As noted in its introduction, although it takes the March 1518 Latin edition of Utopia as its copy text, the Yale edition collates another 14 Latin versions dated from 1516 to 1936. In order to justify the choice of copy text, descriptive bibliographies identify and distinguish the earliest four editions of Utopia (Louvain, 1516; Paris, 1517; Basel, March and November 1518) on the basis of their textual variances (in orthography, punctuation, omissions, etc.). Because Utopia features supplementary letters sent between More and his associates, maps, sketches, a section on the Utopian alphabet, and so on, and because each edition organizes these ancillary materials differently, the Yale editors explain their inclusion and organization of such supplementary materials around the body of More’s main text. Expository comments on Utopia are placed as endnotes, while footnotes mark syntactic or lexical variants between the 14 variant editions (see fig. 1). The editors remark that their critical apparatus leaves out small textual differences deemed inconsequential, such as spellings considered interchangeable (ex. iusticia and iustitia), the multiplicity of forms in the abbreviation and capitalization of respublica, and so forth. There is a limit, then, to the extent of the apparatus’s inclusion of details about other editions of Utopia, although the assumption of the editors is that they have provided enough information to satisfy most readers by situating their edition relative to its precursors. The Yale editors’ measured consideration of 14 other editions to complement their Latin copy text, and the wealth of their insights in that regard, certainly attests to the value of engaged, careful bibliographic inquiry. Generally, substantive variants between editions are treated fully; accidental variants are classified as being either significant enough to be mentioned or not. In a section of the Yale edition’s appendix, the editors further discuss More’s vocabulary and diction and, in doing so, they validate their selection and revision of G. C. Richards’ 1923 translation of Utopia, which furnishes the English text that parallels the Latin. The editors also briefly explain their use and revision of Richards’ work in the introduction, but they do not include annotations to explain specific alterations to the translation. In this regard, the Yale edition lacks details of particular interest to other editors of English translations of Utopia, many of whom justify their versions by mentioning (but not explicitly citing) perceived shortcomings in Richards’ translation (see for example Clarence H. Miller, Utopia, 2001, esp. xxi–xxiii). A reader interested in studying variant English translations of Utopia would find little assistance in the editorial apparatuses available to them in the many scholarly and critical editions published since the Yale edition.

Fig. 1. Footnotes marking variants between editions

Logan, Adams, and Miller’s 1995 Cambridge edition is a revised and expanded version of Logan and Adams’ 1989 Utopia. A preface in the 1995 edition explains the scope and scale of its revisions. For example, it adds a redaction of the Latin text, a textual introduction, notes, and an appendix, and it corrects errors in the original edition’s translation. Like the editors of the Yale edition, Logan, Adams, and Miller take the March 1518 Utopia as their copy text; they justify their choice in an appendix which describes and compares the earliest 4 editions of More’s text. Their preface acknowledges their modernisation of the copy text on three counts: Latin spellings, paragraphs, and punctuation. Following the preface, a short section titled “Textual Practices” explains the editors’ references to secondary texts, spelling of the names of historic figures, choices around the use of gendered language in the English translation, and so forth (see fig. 2). The next section, the introduction, is organized into two parts: interpretive contexts and the Latin text. The first part is a thematic overview of the book, while the second relates the bibliographic details the editors took into account in their selection of a copy text. This latter section of the introduction also covers more explicitly matters of modernisation (breaks into paragraphs, spelling, punctuation) mentioned in the preface. For instance, the editors explain the method by which they standardize the spelling of various words that are used with variant spellings in early editions of Utopia. In contrast to the Yale edition, the Cambridge Utopia confines itself to the textual variants between the earliest 4 editions (instead of the Yale’s 14). Footnotes to the Latin text mark especially important variants (i.e. substantive variants) between the 4 editions, but, displaying more prejudice than the Yale version, the Cambridge editors “silently disregard” many accidental variants “when they contribute nothing to an understanding of the text” (xxxiv).

Fig. 2. Prefatory section on textual practices

The editors of these two standard editions of Utopia thus do much to situate their editions in relation to others and provide bibliographic information to readers. Much of the editorial apparatus of both books, in the prefaces, annotations, introductions, appendices and so on, details the specific choices of the editors to these ends (in their selection of a copy text, treatment of accidental and substantive variants, and so on). In light of the tendency of other, less well-known editions of Utopia to note the deviations that they make from the Yale and Cambridge versions, it seems that one of the key reasons why the Yale and Cambridge editions are regarded as standard is that their editors so thoroughly situate and explain their publications in their editorial apparatuses. The paratext of the Yale and Cambridge editions is thus exemplary. However, the editors of both editions remark on the limits of what they include in their apparatuses. Accidental variants between editions, for example, are regularly omitted, as are specific instances of modernisation. Although both editions take the March 1518 Utopia as the copy text for their translations, both omit, without notice or explanation, the extended sections of poems by More and Erasmus, the “Epigrammata Clarissimi Disertissimi,” which conclude the original. As thorough as the Yale and Cambridge editions are, then, and as much as they provide a valuable example of how to collate variant editions into a standard text, there are limits to their bibliographical comprehensiveness.

Works Cited

More, Thomas. The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, vol. 4. Edited by E. Surtz, S. J. and J. H. Hexter. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965.

---. Utopia. Edited by G. M. Logan, R. M. Adams, and C. H. Miller. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

---. Utopia. Edited by Clarence H. Miller. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

An App Based Solely on _The Waste Land_: What's Next?

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In keeping with Michael's introduction of interesting and informative apps, this app produced by TouchPress is a learning tool that delivers T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. The app provides full published text and various readings of the poem by T.S. Eliot, Sir Alec Guinness, and others, as well as a filmed reading performed by Fiona Shaw. There is also commentary from notable scholars and writers that provides various impressions of the poem. The app is fully searchable, and allows one to jump back and forth between the text and the performed passages without skipping a beat. In addition, it contains the original manuscript pages of The Waste Land, complete with Ezra Pound's notes, and one can move back and forth between the published text and the handwritten original text. I can't do it justice here, so you can see for yourself:

At the very least, this is an interesting example of what is being produced currently in the way of learning tools, and, although my technological foresight is definitely not authoritative, it certainly seems to have the potential to turn into a larger, more comprehensive product.

Announcing an INKE Modelling/Prototyping Twitter Account

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Last week, the INKE Modelling/Prototyping Team launched a Twitter account, @INKE_MP. It is our hope that this account will increase our online visibility, produce another way for the general public to discover us (we will be using the #INKE hashtag when providing links to content produced by the team), and provide us with a forum for sharing our discoveries with both other group members and the public.

For our team to develop relevant models and prototypes, it is quite simply a necessity to know what models exist and how they are being utilized; given the current state of digital publication, this task requires that we continually search for new models, devices, and applications. Though much of what we find deserves a great deal of discussion, much of it also seems self-explanatory, or does not appear to relate directly to modelling and prototyping. A Twitter account gives us a way to say, “You may find this interesting,” without having to comment further.

Consider, for instance, the subject of our first Tweet, a promotional video announcing a new iPad app, “Hebrew from Insight Out”:

This app is, in essence, a multimedia parallel edition of the The Book of Genesis, Bereshit that is aimed at teaching Hebrew to English speakers. Along with the Hebrew text come features that provide commentary on passages in both Hebrew and English, and a talking Hebrew/English dictionary. While “Hebrew from Insight Out” is an interesting example of the current state of digital publication, and while it provides some insight into the future of the book, it is nothing that I am capable of commenting on beyond suggesting that others involved with or curious about our project may find it interesting.

Be sure to follow us at @INKE_MP.