notes from digital textuality seminar in Bergen
Today there have been talks on the history of critical editions and the political economy of digital critical editions, about the Wittgenstein Archive, a digital edition of all Wittgenstein’s notebooks developed here in Bergen, about digitalisation of early French newspapers and newsletters, about the Norwegian Newspaper Corpus which scrapes content from online newspapers, about the many variants in Flaubert’s work and how to make a digital edition that actually shows that rather than doing the traditional thing of presenting a definitive text given by god, about the Ibsen project, which is a grand vision of publishing everything Ibsen ever, ever wrote both on paper and electronically, including a rather disturbing argument that the electronic edition might be used more if it’s sold than if it’s freely available online!!
Terje Hillesund: E-books.
Gisle Andersen: Norwegian newspaper corpus – methods for text collection and
Isabelle Treff: collaborates with Phillipe Reigner – digitalisation of the Saint-Simonian corpus. Particularly interested in Norwegian use of the Ibsen corpus.
Serge Heiden: Researchers on quantitative data analysis. Specialises on old French texts, political texts, morpho-syntactics.
Claire Belilse: Social science research engineer, working with Isabelle – the use of digital technologies in research and in training. Use of e-books in public libraries. Use of online encyclopias by un
Steve (Stephen) Shimanek: American, came – digitalising linguistic books. Notices that the Bergen lab has done OCR (Optical Character Recognition) of gothic script. Working on digitalising
Philippe RegniËr: Is a research director at
Seneres CNRS (French research council) – comes from Gutenberg galaxy, classical literature professor, lots of Greek and Latin. Interested in computers. Goal: put our literary heritage online. He’s currently testing this idea on the literary corpus of San Simon.
StÈphanie Dord-CrouslÈ: Researcher at LIRE, PhD on genetical critical theory (?) on Flaubert. Now, digitalising Flaubert and Dumas.
Alois Pichler: Runs Wittgenstein Archives here in Bergen.
Philippe RegniËr: The Political Economy of critical digital editions.
(He’s speaking French! Very, very slowly and I can understand him! Daniel’s translating too, it’s like a French lesson)
Philology is completely unrelated to economy, in the culture he’s been brought up in, rather it is related to culture and maybe even religion. Computers, on the other hand, are financially profitable. So he wants to link the economical facts around digital editions as potentially profitable with the cultural and symbolic capital of philology. We are already in some kind of economy as we exchange thoughts talking together here, and in the digital sphere exchanging digital texts.
Pascal: mathematical genius, could be said to have invented the first computer, a theologist though the Catholists saw his sect (Jansonism) as heretic. 19th century philosophers were very interested in Pascal because he could be the root of a French philosophy independent of the Catholic church. Pascal’s left papers (nachlass) aroused interest but hadn’t been edited. A philosopher (Victor Cousin?) edited the papers in a way that was meant to produce a base for a new philosophy which should create an example for creating critical editions. Critical editions are created with cultural, political and ideological motivations.
Second point: critical editions emerged within a context of conflict between discipline – e.g. between literature and philosophy vs scientific goals in the critical edition. Critical edition philology also an object of exchange betwen France and Germany, exchange of editorial practices.
The new practice of critical editions was in many ways as large a transition in teh 19th century scholarship as digital technology is today.
Critical edition of classics: Have been accussed of breaking and fragmenting classical culture, which can be seen as dependent on continuous, (dialogical) thought. Easy to see how digital editions and digitality in general could receive same criticism.
Change – when the “real” manuscript is seen as the unedited text from the author, or the critical edition.
E.g. Balzac’s La commedie humaine – the first critical edition published as early as 1879. This edition written by diverse authors (like the Bible). Later, editions with apparatus (annotations) became necessary for the edition to be seen as serious, scholarly enough. Lots of later work on this, obviously, but interestingly, a global, total digital and completely critical edition of Balzac is impossible due to legal and economic issues. Great care taken not to infringe rights of current paper editions (Castex, Pleiade, Gallimard) Digital edition has not been a great commerical success, and isn’t a huge scholarly success either since the most important apparatus has not been included due to copyright. The online edition is the Furne edition from the 19th century because it’s in the public domain.
The point: critical editions are a relatively recent phenomenon. The first in France are from the 1860s, and the first large collections, the Pleiade library, started in 1931. The economical motivation of the La Pleiade library is evident – similar to the relgious model. Published on bible paper (thin!) and look like prayer books with beautiful binding. Iconical value – sacrilisation or canonisation of this particular edition by wellknown thinkers. Impossible today within the La Pleiades context to propose an edition that discusses genetic issues in a text – how the text emerged. Need a discursive introduction, biography/bibliography, reflection of previous authorised version, and at the end, the history of the text and the work, a limited list of textual variants and historical annotations. The buyer of this edition buys hte idea that this is the ultimate, god-given, perfect version of a text by a brilliant author and a brilliant editor. La Pleiade is the bible of modern literature. Even the name, La Pleiade, comes from the poet Roncard, who during the renaissance wanted to sacralise secular poetry. Very clear ideological intention!
Now, Saint Simonianism and the critical edition of Saint-Simonistical texts. Perhaps Saint-Simonism is best described as a group of Maoists or Trotskyists of the 19th century – both very political and very religious. A lot of subversive ideas through France in 19th century. Industralisation and democratisation as foundation for a new religion for France, Europe and the entire world. A religious sect and political party, gathering doctors, intellecturals, women, workers.
Gap between “noble” cultural production and mass cultural producation. Digital edition perfect for this corpus because involves texts, cultural expression, costumes etc etc. They created etheir own critical edition of their own culture in 47 volumes!!! Followed same model as in Balzac studies.
Alois Pichler: Wittgenstein Archive
Lots of work done on Wittgenstein’s nachlass, that is his unpublished notebooks and so on. In the 80s a lot of this material was made available in paper facsimiles and microfilm, but bits were left out – autobiographical bits where simply covered over with paper before the text was scanned. This was fair enough, since people written about were still alive at the time, but the editor didn’t explain any of this to the public. Also, Wittgenstein wrote about things like this in a simple code, and the trustees (editors) actually just deleted all the bits that were in code, although many of the coded bits weren’t about juicy personal scandals at all.
Another issue: Wittgenstein wrote everything 20 or 30 times in different variants. How on earth do you deal with that in a critical edition? Or rather: how do you do this in a book?
Bergen: electronic version might solve these problems. Do electronic edition first, then could if desired reproduce that in print. Made a machine-readable version of the nachlass, everything tagged. Then a system built around this so it can be viewed in various ways. Now published by Oxford UP. Two kinds of criticism: 1. It doesn’t give the reader enough power. Why not let the reader get her hands on the actual tagged text? 2. It makes it too easy for the reader to search and find stuff without its being explained. Will lead to lots of uninformed discussions of Wittgenstein by readers who’ve simply searched for “verification” and don’t really know much about Wittgenstein. Proper scholarly editions (i.e. traditional paper editions) prevent this.
Me, obviously I’m more with objection no. 1. But no matter, it’s cool they’ve done this. Pity it costs £600 to buy it.
Stephen Shimanek: Online editions of Historical Press Archives: Why? How?
Alexandre Dumas’ newspapers/journals.
Why should we make old newspapers available?
There aren’t many examples of reprints of 19th century newspapers – practically difficult to reprint huge newssheets. Only MallarmÈ’s Le derniere mode has been reprinted, because it has a famous editor — most newspapers collectively written, often each article was anonymous. Many readers at the time! Newspapers read collectively, often aloud, and you could even rent newspapers by the half-hour from libraries.
Le mousequetaire, journal de M. Alexandre Dumas.
(See more in a separate post)
Gisle Andersen: Norwegian Newspaper Corpus
Not great funding, so have focussed their collection of newspaper texts on gathering it from online newspapers. Working with Knut Hofland here in Bergen. Generates lists of new words. Material is used by lexicographers, good tool for studying emergence and spread of new words. Political events generate new words. For instance this January many compounds were created that began with “tsunami”. Can also track how a word spreads from one to many newspapers and then often disappears when the topic is no longer relevant. Good tool for creating dictionaries.
StÈphanie Dord-CrouslÈ: …diter Flaubert. Du papier ‡ l’ecran. parcours entre textes et avant-textes.
Flaubert had a very limited production, unlike, say, Dumas. Only six books, one of which is a hybrid genre, the last of which was published posthumously. He’s therefore simple to publish and editors like publishing his work. It’s clear what “the work” is.
Published in Pleiade, which is a consecration of great authors, definitive editions on bible paper.
New editions: Early Writings (2001) which includes works previously unpublished or difficult to find. However texts only published in final version. Perfect contents have found ideal container.
A true hypertextual, scholarly edition should give reader access to the variations
When Emma becomes conscious again after her first act of adultuery
Foucault’s manuscript: [..] elle entendit [..] un cri vague et prolongÈ [..< ], et elle l'Ècoutait delicieusement, [..]
Manuscript of the copyist: [..]†elle entendit [..] un cri vague et prolongÈ [..< ], et elle l'Ècoutait silencieusement, [..]
Lots of other mistakes – grass becomes water, few people at lunch becomes many people at lunch, and so on.
If Flaubert didn’t find these mistakes, it is likely because he hated proofreading. On the other hand, he may have altered the proofs at time.
(StÈphanie handed out notes so I’ve not taken notes here as much as I otherwise might have)
Annette Lundby: About the Ibsen project – creating a hybrid edition print/digital
Paper: 15 twin volumes, each with one book of text and one of commentary.
Electronic: Additionally, versions of all manuscripts and letters he’s ever written.
Very grand vision: EVERYTHING, from the first word he wrote till the final publication. (I assume they won’t really have the very first word he ever wrote.
Jerome McGann was in Oslo last week, and was asked how the Rosetti Archive was used, whether it was used as much as he had hoped. He answered that no, in fact they’d tracked Rosetti citations in scholarly work, and citations were in fact taken from other sources than the freely available online edition.
How to get the Ibsen archive used more? Perhaps charging money for it, because the money generated might allow for advertising so people know about it. Charge money, and it can be given away as Christmas presents and birthday presents, which also increases its reach.
[I objected, pointing out the example of the Routledge Encylopedias, where only the articles that are online are ever cited, and also adding that the important thing is to make the edition trustworthy. They can’t use the Aschehoug “brand” for the electronic edition, but they can, of course, use the University of Oslo brand. Annette says she agrees with me that it would be far better to make it openly available, but that the marketing is important, and she thinks there are too many wonderful digitalisation projects (for instance at the National Library) that just aren’t known, in which case it doesn’t help that it’s freely available. I suppose she has a point, but damnit, there are other ways of getting the word out about a project!!! She follows up later saying that it will probably be free, unless the University insists on profitting from it.]
Interesting that the works we get funding to digitalise are all very much about creating national identity — Ibsen, Flaubert, etc. Are we not once again enslaved in the nation state? What about authors who belong to nations that have disappeared? Or what about authors who don’t fit into our idea of our nation? For instance, Knut Hamsum, who has no critical editions or even streets named after him or anything, because he was a virulent nazi.
Tone Merete Bruvik: How to get started when digitising a critical edition?
All the details of XML, DTDs and schemas and all the rest of it. Sorry, not going to take notes here 🙂