Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 35. Wednesday, 29 Aug 1990.
(1)   Date: 29 August 1990, 12:27:17 EDT                     (21 lines)
      Subject: [Compositor Stints]
(2)   Date:         Wed, 29 Aug 90 19:41:04 EDT              (42 lines)
      From:         Ken Steele <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Subject:      Compositor Stints in Shakespearean Quarto & Folio Texts
(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 29 August 1990, 12:27:17 EDT
Subject: [Compositor Stints]
Dear Ken,  I was wondering (and you can print this on Shaksper if you
like) how you were identifying compositors throughout the Shakespeare
texts, that you would be able to encode the end of one compositor's
stint and the beginning of another?  Perhaps with the First Folio that
is possible, but has enough testing been done on all the various quartos
so that you can say for certain this compositor stopped here and this
other one began?  How do you differentiate between a compositor's stint
and a gathering, especially if they are either connected or
disassociated by the method of composition?  I may be speaking out of
ignorance of the current state of bibliographical knowledge of
Shakespeare's texts, but I would like to know how many tests are
necessary before a compositor can be identified for certain.  In my own
work on *Paradise Lost*, I am all but sure that at least three
compositors set the 1674 text, but pinning each down is very
difficult--and the problems of a non-dramatic text composed and printed
in the late 17th century are quite different from those of a dramatic
text printed, say, in 1595.  Roy Flannagan
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------46----
Date:         Wed, 29 Aug 90 19:41:04 EDT
From:         Ken Steele <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Subject:      Compositor Stints in Shakespearean Quarto & Folio Texts
Roy Flannagan is not misinformed about the state of Shakespearean
textual scholarship; although a great deal has been done in terms of
compositorial attribution, particularly in the First Folio, a great
deal also remains to be done.  I for one have always been somewhat
critical of compositor attribution studies: there is a circularity in
logic which troubles me.  Stints are identified based on consistent
orthographic tendencies (for example), and then orthographic tendencies
are identified by stint.  This is of course an oversimplification, and
in practice much that is useful comes from compositor studies, but
at root something seems strangely illogical about it all.
I do think, however, that computer analysis can tell us a great deal
about compositorial stints.  In the case of the Folio texts, one could
begin by accepting the current state of knowledge (as outlined in, say,
the Oxford Shakespeare).  Computer analysis of, for example, distributions
of particular spelling tendencies, punctuation habits, error rates, etc.
would then help support or challenge these original stint identifications.
Ideally, it would be possible to alter the stint breaks and compare results
-- but much faster hardware would be required than even my 386.
Ultimately, software could be devised to compare all possible divisions
of compositorial labour and assess their relative likelihood -- perhaps
a compositorial attribution process much like the authorial attribution
studies already being done.
For the moment, it is simply an intriguing exercise to be able to
subdivide results from a Shakespeare textbase, either by Play, scene,
speaker, compositor, verse/prose, italic/roman, inner/outer forme,
English/French/Latin, date of publication, date of composition,
printer, publisher, etc etc etc.  What one might find by doing so is
difficult to estimate... but one would be much more likely to find
anything than when simply faced with stacks of paper facsimiles.
WordCruncher is, in all likelihood, not the best software engine to
drive such research, either, but it is the most generally-available and
user-friendly program I have yet seen.
                                                Ken Steele
                                                University of Toronto

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