Manuscript Culture

Manuscript culture: What is a Text?

The links below focus on the idea of what a text is: the differences (or lack thereof) between a handwritten note, a novel, an anthology of literature, a web page and a sound recording. They also look at what the roles of editors, critics, creators of Internet databases, and transcribers might be in shaping what a text is and what it becomes.

A medieval manuscript (in Latin):

Images of twenty medieval manuscripts. You have to scroll down just a bit. Note the variety of styles:

Review of a recent book about the history of criticism and interpretation of Beowulf, and how it has often been a nationalist project:

A few different versions of Georgre Herbert’s Easter Wings:

Editing in the digital age:

(copy editing your own work)
(what constitutes an “authentic” document in the digital age)

Scribal additions to the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, including a version with all suspected scribal insertions removed:

The wacky, fabulous, and unclassifiable work of bpnichol:

Two links to Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”– neither of which discusses or explains the process behind their selection of a particular version of this text for mark-up:

…although at least gives bibliographic info showing which version of the text they have reproduced:

…Wikipedia and CliffsNotes entries that gives some sense of why publishing or uploading any version of “Leaves of Grass” involves a series of editorial choices:

…and the Walt Whitman Archive project’s site, with links to 8 different versions of “Leaves of Grass”:


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