The Annotated Star: A Collaborative Digital Edition of Rosenzweig's Star of Redemption

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Matthew Handelman

    Michigan State University

  2. 2. Ynon Wygoda

    Hebrew University, Yale University

  3. 3. Shay Rojansky

    Eagle TS R&D

  4. 4. Sinai Rusinek

    Van Leer Institute

Work text
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For the Digital Humanities Conference 2014, we propose to present a poster discussing our project, “The Annotated Star”: a collaborative, dynamic edition that combines the traditional critical edition with the potential of digital technologies.1 The poster will draw on our international collaboration developing an open-source, web-based text annotation interface and explore the practical and theoretical implications of our collaborative editing and computer-aided quote-mining of Franz Rosenzweig’s (1886-1929) philosophical-theological monograph Star of Redemption (1921). Drawing on a host of interdisciplinary, interfaith and stylistic sources from the German and Jewish cultural tradition, religious texts, and the natural sciences, Rosenzweig’s writings not only serve as an exceptional model - in form as well as in content - for the future of digital textual collaboration.2 Even more so, as we hope to demonstrate, the digital editing of Rosenzweig’s text also serves as the impetus for a discussion over how computer technologies can help us rethink, reposition and enhance the traditional hermeneutic task of close and critical reading in the digital age.

The poster and our presentation will center on the two key aspects of our project. First, they will outline our construction of an online, collective annotation graphical user interface, designed to allow users to upload their own comments, links, and annotations to the digitized text. At first based on Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption, such a website will be easily adaptable for other base texts and will link, display, and organize digitized versions of the reference texts from which the base text quotes. The finished site will store previously marked annotations, allow for user input, and display linked texts, as the following screenshots illustrate:

Fig. 1: Prototype Screenshots of the GUI

Such a platform enables and stores collaboratively defined, hyper-textual linkages between Star of Redemption and, for instance, Goethe’s Faust or Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason – if not for any text within, or even beyond, the humanities. Yet the parallel display of texts enabled by digital technology does not supplant our traditional understanding of close reading, but rather enhances close reading, while visualizing the processes of textual reference and reassembly that serve at its foundation.

Second, our poster and presentation will discuss our implementation of an automatic text re-use detection tool, which we are currently using to detect textual overlaps between Star of Redemption and the growing canon of digitized literature, philosophy and the natural sciences. With this tool we hope to use information technologies to unearth moments in which Rosenzweig quotes from sources without citing them and, thus, to provide automated data for the collaborative website discussed above. As our poster explores, the upshot of the project is the discovery of new references in Star of Redemption and, with them, a deeper understanding of the rich layers of philosophical, Rabbinic, literary and cultural commentary hidden yet ubiquitous in Rosenzweig’s text. Furthermore, it would allow us to revisit, reformulate and re-map the networks of intertextuality and textual re-use that, at their core, inform our hermeneutic and humanistic questions in the present.

Ultimately, we hope to provide more than just a demonstration of a collective critical edition of Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption, more, too, than an open-source annotation and editing tool. Rather, by looking at how developments in digital technologies and the Digital Humanities aid in our understanding of a text key to both German and Jewish Studies, it provides us the opportunity to address questions central to the evolving field of the Digital Humanities. Our poster on the “Annotated Star,” in other words, will explore how the digital revolution redefines and simultaneously solidifies the task of humanistic scholarship. Perhaps most importantly, it also explores and seeks to engender discussion around numerous philosophical concepts – such as Rosenzweig’s ideas on truth and collaboration, translation and language – that enable us to think critically through the new possibilities the Digital Humanities offer for humanistic scholarship and inquiry.

1. For the history and typology of dynamic textual editing, see Ray Siemens et al., Towards Modeling the Social Edition, in Literary and Linguistic Computing, (2012): 445-61, especially 446-9.

2. Peter E. Gordon, Rosenzweig and Heidegge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), Mara Benjamin, Rosenzweig’s Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), the contributions to the Rosenzweig Yearbook, vol 2: Criticism of Islam, ed. Martin Brasser (Freiburg: Karl Alber, 2007).

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

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Conference website:

Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO