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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Which Shakespeare Editions Are Considered Definitive?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0357  Monday, 9 February 2004

From:           James McNelis <
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Date:           Saturday, 7 Feb 2004 09:40:30 EST
Subject: 15.0177  Which Shakespeare Editions Are Considered
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0177  Which Shakespeare Editions Are Considered
Definitive?

In the case of many authors, published editions exist which are
considered "definitive" in the sense of being generally accepted
standards by scholars who are knowledgeable both in the work of the
author in question, and in the theory and practice of textual editing.
This latter is an extensively developed line of work, though often
slighted in graduate English programs, to the detriment of many of their
students' preparation. D. C. Greetham's _Textual Scholarship: An
Introduction_ serves as a very good overview of the field's background
and aspects.

In the case of works so difficult to edit as Shakespeare's plays, the
question "what is definitive" might, in practical terms, be taken to
mean "which edition(s) are most commonly cited as the reference text in,
e.g., scholarly articles on Shakespeare?"  Or even, "which are most
commonly taught in upper-division/graduate courses by specialists in the
field?"  My own justification of assigning the Riverside to my students
is that (1) it is a very good textbook with good apparatus, suitable as
a reference for anyone going on to teach high school, as nearly all of
mine do; and (2) it is more likely than not that they may need it in
later coursework in the event they go on to pursue an MA--as all HS
English teachers in many  states are expected to do, and which
requirement is about to enter the Ohio scene as well.

Yours,
James McNelis
English, Wilmington College, Ohio

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