6.0030 Abstract: Textual Criticism in the 21st C. (1/40)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Fri, 22 May 1992 17:22:08 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0030. Friday, 22 May 1992.

Date: Fri, 22 May 92 11:37:50 PDT
From: cbf@athena.berkeley.edu (Charles Faulhaber)
Subject: abstract

The following abstract of my recent article ("Textual Criticism
in the 21st Century" Romance Philology 45 (1991): 123-48) is
intended for Bob Kraft, but I must have an old address, since
I haven't been able to get through to him.

I'm sure that he will receive this, however, and as an unintended
side effect, it may prove useful to other HUMANISTS as well.

Since the Middle Ages scholars have attempted to devise ways to study texts
paradigmatically (i.e., all examples of a given element) through the use of
concordances. The computer facilitated enormously the creation of concordan-
ces while at the same time creating, initially only as a byproduct, a machine-
readable texts. In turn these have been used for some years as the basis of
printed critical editions; and special software has been developed to facilitate
this process. Electronic texts can also form the basis for machine-readable
critical editions. The most adequate mechanism for such critical editions is
hypertext, or "non-sequential writing," which establishes links between related
sections of a text, between a text and its sources, or between a text and the
commentaries on it. Hypertext editions (= hypereditions) will require the use of
the Standardized General Markup Language (SGML), as modified for literary
and linguistic purposes by the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), in order to be
usable on many different computer systems. While a hyperedition will contain
many of the same materials as a printed critical edition, their realization will
be quite different. Thus instead of an apparatus of variants, a hyperedition
would link the critical text to the paleographical transcription of a given
witness and, via that transcription, to a digitized facsimile of the witness.
Along with the texts themselves, the hyperedition will also include software
tools to manipulate and analyze the text. Creation and use of a hyperedition
will require a sophisticated hypertext or hypermedia system as well as a set of
utilities (e.g., image and text scanners, an image processing program, SGML
parser/encoder, text analysis program, collation program, stemma generator).
Existing hypertext systems (Apple Hypercard, OWL Guide, ToolBook) do not as
yet have the capabilities needed for hypereditions such as those here posited.
Nevertheless, the scholarly community should begin to make ready for the
advent of true hypereditions by preparing machine-readable ASCII
transcriptions of primary source materials in conformance with the forthcoming
TEI guidelines.

Charles Faulhaber
UC Berkeley