Algorithmic Approaches to an Electronic Scholarly Edition of Early Modern Materials

  1. 1. Raymond George Siemens

    Dept of English - Malaspina University, Electronic Textual Cultures Lab - Malaspina University, University of Victoria

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For more than a decade, two dominant perspectives on the electronic scholarly edition have prevailed. One,
the “dynamic text,” consists of an electronic text and advanced textual analysis software; it presents, in
essence, a text that indexes and concords itself, allowing the reader to interact with it in a dynamic fashion
(see Lancashire, 1989). The other, often referred to as the “hypertextual edition,” exploits the ability of
encoded hypertextual organisation to facilitate a reader’s interaction with the apparatus (textual, critical, and
otherwise) that traditionally accompanies scholarly editions, and with relevant external textual and graphical
resources, critical materials, and so forth (Faulhaber, 1991, 134 ff.). Advances in computing, and computing’s
further advance into disciplines that include textual editing, over the past decade have made it clear that
electronic scholarly editions can incorporate dynamic interaction with the text and its related materials and, at
the same time, also reap the benefits of the fixed hypertextual links that typify the standard relation of
materials we find in most editions of this sort.
Indeed, contemporary scholarly consensus is that the level of dynamic interaction in an electronic
edition itself—if facilitated via text analysis in the style of the dynamic text—can replace much of the
interaction that one typically has with a text and its accompanying materials via explicit hypertextual links in
a hypertextual edition (surveyed in Siemens, 2001, 2002). That said, at the moment, there is no extant
exemplary implementation of this new “dynamic edition,” an edition that transfers the principles of
interaction allowed by a dynamic text to the realm of the full edition, comprising that text and all its
extra-textual materials (textual apparatus and commentary, and beyond).
Toward documenting the elements of a dynamic edition, and toward the ultimate goal of creating an
exemplary instance of such an edition, my paper will provide a typological survey of a number of
contemporary electronic scholarly editions; in doing so, it will explicitly raise and address the several key
concerns associated with applying algorithmic approaches associated with text analysis to such an edition.
Discussion will include issues relating to the creation and use of digital resources in the humanities,
specifically digitization and representation of text, encoding techniques, interface, and metadata. Discussion
will centre on, and examples will be drawn from, among others, an electronic edition of the Devonshire MS
(British Library Additional MS 17, 492) that is currently in progress.
Faulhaber, Charles B. “Textual Criticism in the 21st Century.” Romance Philology 45 (1991): 123–148.
Lancashire, D. Ian. “Working with Texts.” Paper delivered at the IBM Academic Computing Conference,
Anaheim, 23 June 1989. Noted in Faulhaber (128, 135).
Siemens, R.G. “Unediting and Non-Editions.” In The Theory (and Politics) of Editing. Anglia 119.3 (2001):
423–455. Reprint, with new introduction, of “Shakespearean Apparatus? Explicit Textual Structures
and the Implicit Navigation of Accumulated Knowledge.” Text: An Interdisciplinary Annual of
Textual Studies 14. Ann Arbor: U Michigan P, 2002. 209–240.

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Conference Info

In review

"Web X: A Decade of the World Wide Web"

Hosted at University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia, United States

May 29, 2003 - June 2, 2003

83 works by 132 authors indexed

Affiliations need to be double-checked.

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Series: ACH/ICCH (23), ALLC/EADH (30), ACH/ALLC (15)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None