Essay Blog Post: Constraints of the Codex

In Susan Schreibman’s Digital Scholarly Editing,  she states that ‘Digital scholarly editors are no longer bound by the constraints of the codex and the economics of print publication.’

Schreibman is suggesting that when a text is transcribed from a codex to a digital edition, or is simply born a digital edition to begin with, it is freed from the restrictions it suffers as a physical edition. My own previous study into physical and digital editions of the same text, particularly with Reynard the Fox, concurs with the idea that digital editions are liberated from these restrictions. Digital editions are cheaper, perhaps even free, to make, thus freeing them from the financial restrictions of print publication. They are also easier to navigate, search, and access, due to the use of hyperlinks, encoding and the immense audience of the internet. The digital text is liberated from the spatial restrictions enforced upon a codex, in that it takes up no physical space at all, and any errors that are made in a digital edition can be easily rectified, something which I have already experienced, through study of Reynard the Fox, is not the case with a codex.

My essay will be arguing that, despite there being minor restrictions present in digital editions of texts which are not problematic in the physical,  the majority of the constraints of the codex, as well as the problems with the economics of print publication, are abolished when a text is created digitally. Through the use of type, print, accessibility and navigation problems found in bound versions of Reynard the Fox, I will be considering whether these same problems are still present in the digital version, thus striving to confirm Schreibman’s assertion.


One thought on “Essay Blog Post: Constraints of the Codex

  1. I see that you’re persuaded by Schriebman’s argument. Might it be idealistic too? Producing digital resources is not cheap and never free to make, which is why some digital projects wither (see, for e.g., Verse Miscellenies Online which seems to have stopped development in 2013). But of course individual editors are now free to populate the WWW directly, without necessarily relying on public grants etc.


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