Week eight: editing and mediation

Over the next few weeks we will be editing our books and also thinking through the conceptual issues that arise out of this process. This is our starting position, from Considering the Scholarly Edition in the Digital Age: A White Paper of the Modern Language Association’s Committee on Scholarly Editions:

Our definition of an edition begins with the idea that all editions are mediations of some kind: they are a medium through which we encounter some text or document and through which we can study it. In this sense an edition is a re-presentation, a representational apparatus, and as such it carries the responsibility not only to achieve that mediation but also to explain it: to make the apparatus visible and accessible to criticism.

Preparation before the session:

Technical note. For some of the tasks in the next two weeks, you will need to use a text editor of some kind. Macs have ‘TextEdit’ as standard. If you find it inconvenient to use (the window is rather small) there are plenty of good free editors available online: I’d suggest either Notepad++ (Windows / PC) or TextWrangler (Mac).

Transforming the codex into text.

    1. Upload each page image to Online OCR and process it. Cut and paste each resulting plain text into a single document in your text editor. NB: make sure your editor saves it as ‘plain text’ not ‘Rich Text’ (depending on the programme you are using, you may need to go into Preferences or Settings to set this).
    2. Given the nature of the books we are digitizing, there will be errors in this resulting text, so you will now need correct the transcription. NB: at this stage do not add any formatting: just make sure the capitals and spelling match the original page.
    3. Save this file somewhere safe, making sure that it has a useful filename and that it has the file extension .txt
    4. At this stage I’d like you to consider carefully and rationalise how you want your reader engage with this book. What formatting do you want to reproduce, and why? Or do you want to modernise things like spelling, captalisation, italicisation, punctuation?

Critical Reading. Please read Schreibman, Susan. ‘Digital Scholarly Editing’. In, Literary Studies in a Digital Age: An Evolving Anthology, eds, Kenneth M. Price, and Ray Siemans. New York: MLA, 2012 ongoing. http://dlsanthology.commons.mla.org/

  1. What is the relevance, for Schreibman, of the ideas of D. F. McKenzie and McGann?
  2. What issues does Schriebman emphasise, in relation to fidelity and contexts?
  3. Consider the differences between the various kinds of ‘thematic research collections’ and the kinds of projects mentioned in the ‘Futures of Scholarly Editing’.
  4. To help you ground our discussions, check out some of the projects she mentions for yourself.

During the session:

  1. We will begin HTML formatting in the session. In advance, check out the first few HTML tutorials at HTML Dog (the link is also in Tools).
  2. During the session we will consider what is lost. and what gained, during this process of mediation  – or ‘re-presentation’ – from material codex to digital text.
  3. We will discuss the Schreibman essay.