6.0249 Rs: Significant Uses of E-Texts (8/264)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 23 Sep 1992 01:23:17 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0249. Wednesday, 23 Sep 1992.

(1) Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 19:13 CDT (64 lines)
Subject: RE: 6.0241 Significant use of E-Texts

(2) Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1992 21:04:36 -0400 (28 lines)
From: mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca (W. McCarty)
Subject: (significant) use of e-texts

(3) Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1992 10:24:07 (23 lines)
From: stigj@ulrik.uio.no (Stig Johansson)
Subject: Significant use of e-texts

(4) Date: 21 Sep 92 08:58:19 EDT (27 lines)
From: Malcolm.Brown@Dartmouth.EDU
Subject: Re: 6.0231 Use of E-Texts

(5) Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 10:36 EDT (24 lines)
From: A BROOK <A_BROOK@carleton.ca>
Subject: Using E-texts

(6) Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 11:12:45 EDT (35 lines)
From: Janet H. Murray <jhmurray@Athena.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Humanist submission

(7) Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 16:50:00 BST (35 lines)
From: A.K.Henry@cen.exeter.ac.uk
Subject: Re: 6.0241 Significant use of E-Texts

(8) Date: 21 September 92, 10:15:27 EST (28 lines)
Subject: preserving scholars and research

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 19:13 CDT
Subject: RE: 6.0241 Significant use of E-Texts

I can give you some examples of uses of e-texts in research, and in-
directly in teaching. Don't know how significant they are.

I'm a philosopher specializing in Kant. Some 7 or 8 years ago I acquired
an ASCII text of the _Kritik der reinen Vernunft_, which I used for an
article concerning a highly problematic text at B122-23. This passage
appears to say that we can have knowledge with intuitions alone, without
concepts, a reading contradicted by a number of other passages.

I tried to resolve the contradiction by arguing for a reading that B122-23
meant only, it seems at this point in the exposition that we can have
knowledge through intuitions without concepts, but further investigation
will show that this is not the case. In addition to systematic considerations,
I noted that the claim was always preceeded by "allerdings," which can have
concessive force ("indeed, ...."; a "but" is anticipated). I searched
the _Kritik_ for instances of "allerdings", and found some 18 of 24
occurrances had this concessive sense, supporting my conjecture. (I
pulled the 1.4 Mb ASCII text up in WordPerfect, and did a liniar search
with passages blocked and copied to the second document; took about
45 minutes on my old 8088.)

Since then I've acquired CD-ROM of Kant's complete published works, indexed
for Word Cruncher, and a 386 machine. I've used it to find quotes I
remember Kant making somewhere, but not where. I've used it to compare
the first and second editions of the _Kritik_ in support of a conjectured
change of position between the editions. (I've had to abandon a few
conjectures as a result of searches.) I've found very interesting
passages in places I wouldn't have thought to look for them, e.g.
explanations of the nature of mathematics in a treatise on theology. And
I've provided colleagues with similar lists of passages.

Right now I'm teaching a Descartes seminar, and wish very much I had a
similar CD of the standard Adam and Tannery edition of Descartes' com-
plete works. I have my copy of the English, of course, but often I want
to know what the Latin original was, and I can't lug some 13 vols. of
AT home, or run to the library every time a question like this comes up.

It would be great if my library (or some library I can log on to) had
all the standard editions in machine-readable and -searchable form. Where
did Descartes get his term "intuition"? How was it used in context by
e.g. Suarez, Scotus, Aquinas? How was it altered in progressing through
Leibniz and Wolff to Kant? It would take me months in the library to run
all this down, perhaps on a conjecture that doesn't pan out, but a couple
of afternoons if I could electronically search those texts.

The advantages for teaching are a bit more indirect, though of course I
can appear enormously erudite by reeling off the hsitory of uses of
"intuition" or something. I can also print out key passages for seminars,
and suggest places for term paper research to start.

I don't want to exaggerate the value of the searchable e-texts; they pro-
vide suggestions, and confirmation or refutation of conjectures, but you've
still got to do the exegesis. Still, they've been valuable to me, and
should be more so when more are available. And they will be invaluable
when cost or storage considerations mean if the library can't get the
material on CD, it won't get it at all.

Hoke Robinson
Memphis State University
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------43----
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1992 21:04:36 -0400
From: mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca (W. McCarty)
Subject: (significant) use of e-texts

An interesting question, Plotkin's. But I would widen it to ask,
"What use of e-texts?" just so as to encourage the modest amongst us.
Since Wendy already knows of my own use, and some preliminary
information on it is already published (CCH Working Papers 1: A TACT
Exemplar), I won't describe it here, but allow me to make an overall

It seems to me that with all the interest in textual encoding, so
intelligently focussed by the TEI, we are in rather severe need for
these uses to be made public. In the beginning we required
information wherever it could be found, and so arose the infamous
"clearing-houses". Then we spent much time and effort bringing order
and discipline to information-gathering. Now, I think, the primary
task is to survey what people are doing and attempt to see what shape
the field is taking. John Burrows' essay in Butler's book, Computers
and Written Texts, is the sort of thing I have in mind for us literary

The forthcoming volume, Research in Humanities Computing '92 (Oxford),
should provide some good raw material for such a survey. Perhaps
Wendy's question should be answered in part by a bibliography.

Willard McCarty

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1992 10:24:07
From: stigj@ulrik.uio.no (Stig Johansson)
Subject: Significant use of e-texts

I am not quite sure what counts as significant use, but would like to draw
attention to recent bibliographies of e-texts in English language research:
Jan Svartvik (ed), 1990, The London-Lund Corpus of Spoken
English: Description and Research. Lund Studies in English 82. Lund
University Press. This book contains a list of publications using the corpus
and a collection of articles on characteristics of spoken discourse. There
is no doubt in my mind that work of this kind (made possible through the
availability of a spoken corpus in machine-readable form) has significantly
advanced our knowledge of spoken discourse.

A fuller bibliography (not limited to publications related to spoken texts)
has been compiled by Bengt Altenberg and is printed in: S. Johansson &
Anna-Brita Stenstroem (eds), 1991, English Computer Corpora: Selected Papers
and Research Guide. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. The bibliography is also
available from the ICAME network server: fileserv@hd.uib.no.

Stig Johansson

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------37----
Date: 21 Sep 92 08:58:19 EDT
From: Malcolm.Brown@Dartmouth.EDU
Subject: Re: 6.0231 Use of E-Texts

Much depends on one's interpretation of the term "significant".

Back in my Stanford days, when we had just started our work with PAT and our
homegrown interface, we got an English professor interested. She was working
on a book on Shelley at the time. We put a few relevant poems on line and
she was off to the races. The interface she was using could chart
distribution frequencies and she felt that one such graph furnished evidence
for some of her arguments. I heard she had her publisher include a
distribution plot in her book, as a figure.

I think this indicates that electronic texts will come onto their own when
(1) significant volumes of primary literature of high quality are available,
so that power of the computer to sweep across copora will be exploited and
(2) when we provide more sophisticated analytical tools. Lookup of strings
is nice for finding a reference, but as such merely expedites the logistics
of the scholar's work. I think programs such as TACT, which provide other
kinds of analytical tools (such as low-level statisitcal "views" of a text)
are on the right track.

Malcolm Brown

(5) --------------------------------------------------------------35----
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 10:36 EDT
From: A BROOK <A_BROOK@carleton.ca>
Subject: Using E-texts

Re: Charles Faulhaber's request for examples of the actual use of e-texts in
scholarly work.

I recently finished a book on Kant and the Mind, in which I made extensive
use of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (not surprisingly). I had both the
Academy Edition in German and the Kemp Smith translation in electronic form,
and I made a lot of use of both. The uses included the following: Instant
access to page numbers for quotes whose text but not whose location I remem-
bered; instant access to the texts needed to check translations; generation
of my own lists of where Kant used a certain word and relevant cognates (my
facilities for doing this were the crudest, but just being able to do it at
all was a boon); checking German spelling; cutting and pasting passages (es-
pecially valuable with German text because the need for minute checking of
spelling, correct representation of German characters, etc., is eliminated);
and so on. I used the e-texts available generally and nothing by way of
software more exciting than DOS and WP.

Hope this is the sort of example you were looking for.

Andrew Brook, Ottawa, Canada (ABrook@Carleton.CA)
(6) --------------------------------------------------------------47----
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 11:12:45 EDT
From: Janet H. Murray <jhmurray@Athena.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Humanist submission

In answer to Wnedy Plotkin and Charles Faulhaber's queries on the use
of etexts in research and teaching: I am a co-director of two
projects, both funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities,
which make extensive use of electronic texts. Peter Donaldson This
effort is just beginning but it is being conducted with the advice
ofof MIT) and Larry Friedlander(of Stanford) and I are creating a
Shakespeare Demonstration Interactive Archive, and a Shakespeare
Classroom Presentation System which make available for researchers and
teachers the texts of Shakespeare's plays linked to important
performances of the plays on videodisc.

Charles Faulhaber may also know of Frank Dominquez's project on
Manrique's Coplas (done at the Institute for Academic Technology, and
used by Frank with graduate students at UNC Chapel Hill), which
includes facsimile texts and the many glosses on the poem.

Otmar Foelsche is also working on a multimedia text of Goethe's Faust
at Dartmouth which links etext to video and audio performances.

Friedlander, Dominquez and Foelsche will be presenting their work at
MLA this year at a sesssion I am chairing.

Janet H. Murray
Senior Research Scientist
Department of Humanities
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Room 20B-226
18 Vassar Street
Cambridge MA 02139
(7) --------------------------------------------------------------47----
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 92 16:50:00 BST
From: A.K.Henry@cen.exeter.ac.uk
Subject: Re: 6.0241 Significant use of E-Texts

l am not quite sure (said she nervously) what you mean by "significant" or
for that matter, by "e-text". If by the latter you mean not
text-mailed-to-and-fro-in-a-class but machine-readable-text, you probably
have 100s of examples from people inviting students to draw conclusions from
word- and string- searches in large texts? I have used this method on both
_Piers Plowman_ and _Middlemarch_. The well-known "web" of ideas and
relationships (intellectual and human) in the novel is easy to explore
by this method, but would take years using snail-text. Stduents worked
alone, on individually-chosen texts, and were required to make small
presentations to the group on a) what they did how they did it and b)
WHY IT MATTERED. In conjunction with conventional library-reading of
critics, it rapidly became apparently that MOST results obtained by
students--even 1st-year students--were original, and frequently of potentially
publishable quality.

Is this what you meant?

Not that the e-text aspect is essential in this course, but I do also
teach a 3rd-yr U/G Option in which students explore and explain literary
texts not by using words but by using self-generated computer diagrams.
They are asked to discover and describe STRUCTURES (in the widest possible
sense--patterns, balances, oppositions, parallels, modifications of known
sources, etc, etc). The results are interesting--quite different from the kind
of structure discovered when students use critics and words....

Having said that, I am anxious to hear about other people's use of e-text
and computers in literary teaching. It's lonely here.....

Avril Henry

(8) --------------------------------------------------------------30----
Date: 21 September 92, 10:15:27 EST
Subject: preserving scholars and research

I was struck with sadness a number of years ago when I saw the remnants
of the library of a great Renaissance English Literature scholar being
sold piecemeal at a bookstore in Cleveland. Many of us scholarly types
are, depending on how you think about it, either packrats or anally-
arrested collectors of trivia--all of which we are going to do something
with some day, until we lapse into senility and can't remember what it
was we were going to do with whatever it was we saved. Today, at least,
beginning in college and graduate school, with the aid of a computer,
one can gather information in a way that makes sense as part of
assembling a meaningful life's work. The case discussed on Humanist--
how to preserve the slide collection of an art historian--is
one on the edge of technological development, since only recently can
images be scanned accurately, preserved in a stable condition, the
information condensed, and the whole collection be saved in the fairly
permanent medium of the CD-ROM. One could even spend the $5000 to
$10,000 to buy the equipment to master the CD, provided that the images,
in this case, were arranged in a meaningful way and could be accessed
and indexed in a way that made them easy to use. For other scholars,
those dealing with words or statistics, they can begin with a searchable
database of their own libraries, or with meaningful, cross-referenced notes
on articles and books. If I were starting now, I might combine biblio-
graphical software like ProCite (expensive but available for Mac
and DOS) with something like Excel, for easy retrieval of every bit of
saved detail. Roy Flannagan