Editorial goals are different from archival ones.

Peter Shillingsburg states that ‘Editorial goals … are different from archival ones’ in Literary Documents, Texts, and Works Represented Digitally.

I intend to explore the truth of this statement through the Early Novels Database which archives ‘super-rich metadata about fiction in English in order to help researchers imagine new histories for the novel. By uniting twenty-first-century database and search technologies with the sensibility of eighteenth-century indexing practices, END creates several innovative access points to our collection of controlled-term and descriptive metadata about novels published between 1660-1830.'[1] The END will be compared to a project we executed in class where we digitised sections of the Nehemiah Grew text.  The processes we undertook and the editorial decisions that we were faced with when remediating this text, were very influential to how it appeared in digital form.

Editorial goals, therefore seem to require decisions which allow the editor to choose which parts of the text are most appropriate, and whether things such as writing in the margins of the book should be translated into the digital form.  Archival goals are more of an accurate representation of a text, or in the case of the END the metadata of the text. The END offers a more interactive experience, whereas our digitising of the Grew text served to translate a very old book into a digital format.  Although both serve to make texts digital, editorial goals rely more upon giving old texts new life in a digital form, whereas archives provide accurate representations for a researcher to explore.  In the light of these suggestions my essay will take the stance of agreeing with Peter Shillingsburg’s statement.


[1] The Early Novels Database About Page. [Online] Available from: http://earlynovels.org/?page_id=7 [Accessed 20/01/16].


One thought on “Editorial goals are different from archival ones.

  1. Interesting. But I wonder how one could define the quality of ‘accuracy’? After all, someone might argue that editing the text by Grew is *more* ‘accurate’ – according to one set of standards – than an archive of meta-data (which represents texts in a totally different way). What is the purpose of an edition, or an archive?


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