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| UCL MA in Comparative Literature | Dr. Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen | 20. January 2010 | << Previous Seminar: What is a Text? |

Seminar description

While literary theoriest have debated and disagreed on what the very nature of the literary text is, textual scholars and bibliographers have carried out preparing the texts for publication in editorial formats that pressuppose many of the discussions we encountered in the previous seminar. In this seminar we shall take a look at the ancient discipline of Textual Scholarship, and how it has been practiced in the 20th century. How do textual scholars prepare the texts we read? Is there a "hidden" theory of the text behind new editions of the historic literary texts we read? In the required readings for this seminar, I have selected texts that introduce to the practices and recent debates within Textual Scholarship, and articles by textual theorists who more recently have challenged the way we understand the "text" and the "book". Read the texts in the "further reading" section for a definition of Textual Scholarship and for a expanded view on editorial practices to include hypertextuality.

Post Seminar discussion: In the post seminar discusison we shall give a look to a few more recent experiments in digital, hypermedia editions of nineteenth-century literary works: The Rossetti Archive and Herman Melville's Typee (see links below) and other archives that may be added (by me or the students) in the time up to the seminar. Based on our discussions of textual theory, hypertextuality, textual scholarship and editorial practices we shall discuss the "theory of the text/book" presented in these editions and share our thoughts on their strengths and weeknesses as digital books.

Primary texts

  • Roger Chartier, "The Text Between the Voice and the Book" in Raimonda Modiano et al (eds), Voice, Text, Hypertext: Emerging Practices in Textual Studies, pp. 54-71 (Read the book online in Google Books)
  • Robert Darnton, "What is the History of Books?" in The Book History Reader, pp. 9-26 [Read the article online in Daedalus, Summer 1982: 65-83, JSTOR]
  • Jerome McGann, "The Socialization of Texts", in The Textual Condition. Princeton UP, 1991. pp.69-87; or in David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery, eds. The Book History Reader. Routledge, 2002. pp.39-46. (download the chapter as pdf)

Digital archives

Further Reading

  • "Textual Criticism" in The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (read word document with the text from the online version or find the article in book format)
  • Joseph Grigely, "The Textual Event" in Textualterity: Art, Theory, and Textual Criticism. pp. 89-120 (download as pdf or find parts of the book in Google Books)
  • D. F. McKenzie, "The Book as an Expressive Form", in Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts. Cambridge UP, 1999. pp.9-30; or in David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery, eds. The Book History Reader. Routledge, 2002. pp.27-38 (download the chapter as pdf).


Introducing the Book: a Medieval Help Desk (YouTube)