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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver: EDITING E_TEXTS
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0246  Monday, 23 March 1998.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Monday, March 23, 1998
Subject:        New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver: EDITING E_TEXTS

As of today, SHAKSPEReans may retrieve "'Take your choice of those that
best can ayde your action': Editing and the Electronic Text," (EDITING
E_TEXTS) from the SHAKSPER fileserver.  This paper is my contribution to
"The Electronic Text as a Tool in Research and Teaching," paper session
of the 1998 SAA Annual Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio.  The paper was
accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation that illustrated the texts
under discussion.

To retrieve "'Take your choice of those that best can ayde your action':
Editing and the Electronic Text," send a one-line mail message (without
a subject line) to 
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 , reading "GET EDITING
E_TEXTS".

Should you have difficulty receiving this or any of the files on the
SHAKSPER file server, please contact the editor at
<
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************************************************************************
"'Take your choice of those that best can ayde your action': Editing and
the Electronic Text"

David Scott Kastan contends in his piece for the 1996 Shakespeare
Studies Forum: Editing Early Modern Texts that "Editing has suddenly
become hot, or, if not exactly hot as an activity to undertake (it does,
after all, involve a lot of very tedious, numbingly cold, work), at
least a hot topic (arguably the hot topic) to debate" (My emphasis).
Kastan's principal reason for this contention centers on the manner in
which many postmodern scholars approach early modern texts: "Never has
the materiality of the texts we study seemed so compelling, so
unavoidable, and so exhilaratingly problematic" (30).  Whether one
agrees that editing is "the hot topic" to debate, certainly much has
been written on the subject in the past fifteen years since Jerome J.
McGann's A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism, prompting many to
reexamine the New Bibliography and their assumptions about editing and
edited texts.

Despite the controversy, few would object to D. C. Greetham's definition
of textual scholarship: "Textual scholarship is more than just
'criticism,' however, and it is best defined as the general term for all
the activities associated with discovering, describing, transcribing,
editing, glossing, annotating, and commenting on texts" (103).  Current
disagreements concentrate less on the activities of editing than its
methods or approaches.  G. Thomas Tanselle in "The Varieties of
Scholarly Editing" provides in a convenient chart a taxonomy of these
approaches (11).  Tanselle begins by distinguishing between
Nonhistorical and Historical Editing.  Historical Editing is divided
into editing that reproduces documentary texts without alterations
(facsimiles and literal, that is diplomatic, transcriptions) and editing
that introduces alterations into documentary texts.  This latter
category differentiates between degrees of editorial alteration and
applies equally to the next division between works viewed as products of
individuals and works viewed as collaborative (social) products, both of
which are further subdivided.  All the activities described by Greetham
also apply to the editing of electronic versions of the texts in
Tanselle's taxonomy, whether they be electronic diplomatic
transcriptions of Shakespeare's plays as they originally appeared in
print or electronic modern critical editions of those same works.  In
this paper, I will not concentrate on the technical aspects of editing
electronic texts - TEI (The Text Encoding Initiative) or the intricacies
of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) -I will, however, strive
to demonstrate that when one edits an electronic text that editor not
only performs the activities that Greetham describes but also encodes or
tags the electronic text for the particular purpose or use for which it
is being created, editing that "best can aid your action" to appropriate
Cominius' remark to Caius Martius at the Battle of Corioles.
 

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