By Jerome McGann
A manifesto for the arts within the electronic age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the background of texts, including the tools in which they're preserved and made to be had for interpretation, are the overriding topics of humanist examine within the twenty-first century. concept and philosophy, that have grounded the arts for many years, now not suffice as an highbrow framework. Jerome McGann proposes we glance in its place to philology--a self-discipline which has been out of favor for lots of a long time yet which types the worries of electronic humanities with awesome fidelity.
For centuries, books were the right way to shield and transmit wisdom. yet as libraries and museums digitize their documents and readers abandon paperbacks for capsule pcs, electronic media are exchanging books because the repository of cultural reminiscence. whereas either the project of the arts and its conventional modes of scholarship and demanding research are an analogous, the electronic surroundings is using disciplines to paintings with new instruments that require significant, and infrequently very tricky, institutional alterations. Now greater than ever, students have to get better the idea and approach to philological research if the arts are to satisfy their perennial commitments. Textual and editorial scholarship, usually marginalized as a narrowly technical area, might be made a concern of humanists' attention.
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Additional resources for A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction
These forms and procedures are not infallible but they are reliable. As McKenzie understood so well, our paper-based documentary record bears within itself the history of its own making. How will the digital record do that? We don’t yet know. What we do know—listen to the philologists—is that most of the record will be lost. So the problem is not to save this record: the problem is what we will choose to save, and why, and how will we do it? If you look at most online scholarly editions—I leave aside the question of their structural stability—you will access a certain text or set of texts the scholar has chosen.
Although I’ve set aside all discussion of audio and visual materials (including film and television), I mention them here in passing to underscore the requirement that the archive be comprehensive. 2. Its different parts must be organized in a network of internal links and external connections that can be represented as conventions. Fundamentally, this is a process of identifying and classifying artifacts and their component parts. Any given artifact will have many identifiable parts and can be variously classified.
Designing a system in the horizon of philology, then, requires building critical devices that require the system to be modifiable through use. If the system is not “open” in that way it is not, in the philological perspective, theoretically complete. 4. From that general conceptual vantage, the system must have the flexibility to license, and ultimately store, an indefinite number of particular views of its artifacts and their relations, including different views of the system as a whole. That set of functions reflects the fact that a philological system is fundamentally a system of social software.