6.0554 Rs: E-Texts (5/179)

Thu, 25 Feb 1993 14:05:17 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0554. Thursday, 25 Feb 1993.

(1) Date: 24 Feb 93 01:16:28 GMT (23 lines)
From: johnstonj@attmail.com
Subject: Re: 6.0531 Rs: Humanities teaching lab; Student Computers

(2) Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1993 15:07 EST (16 lines)
From: "Peter Graham, Rutgers U., (908) 932-2741"
Subject: Re: 6.0549 Rs: Humanities Labs and E-Texts

(3) Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1993 22:04 EST (39 lines)
From: John Lavagnino <LAV@BRANDEIS>
Subject: Humanities e-texts

(4) Date: Wed, 24 Feb 93 21:55:31 EST (63 lines)
From: William Kemp <wkemp@s850.mwc.edu>
Subject: re: humanities labs, etexts

(5) Date: 24 Feb 93 23:53:37 GMT (38 lines)
From: johnstonj@attmail.com
Subject: Re: Humanities Labs and E-Texts

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 24 Feb 93 01:16:28 GMT
From: johnstonj@attmail.com
Subject: Re: 6.0531 Rs: Humanities teaching lab; Student Computers (4/89)

While I am certainly do not advocate the death of the printed book, I believe
that significant and valuable work can be done with the aid of electronic
texts and text retrieval/analysis software. There are several institutions
throughout the world which are exploring just what student interaction with
our electronic community will ultimately look like -- nonetheless, many agree
that it is a foregone conclusion that the E-book will soon be just another
element of the scholars toolkit. There are simply too many things that can
be done with the computer that take significantly more time without.

For instance, concordance programs can simplify the often laborious process
of building a concordance. While a library may be considered a humanities
laboratory, if its holdings are confined merely to the paper, or to electronic
documents without humanities specific tools, then institutions are failing to
integrate technology that can make the educational experience more valuable.

No one in their right mind suggests that we toss generations of tried and true
humanities scholarship. Nonetheless, the creation of humanities labs in a
university environment is a necessary and valuable addition to the arsenal of
tools with which educators capture and stimulate the minds of their students!
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------22----
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1993 15:07 EST
From: "Peter Graham, Rutgers U., (908) 932-2741" <GRAHAM@ZODIAC.BITNET>
Subject: Re: 6.0549 Rs: Humanities Labs and E-Texts (3/123)

From: Peter Graham, Rutgers University Libraries

I think it's important to distinguish between problems that are new to the
electronic environment and those that, like poor texts, have always been
with us. For example, David Latane' worries about students misusing the
electronic texts to avoid reading the full text; well, what's new. And
Elaine Brennan asks "what if there's not (and never has been) a thoroughly
edited version of a
particular text?"< Well, then we're back to square one anyway. As the
Wodehouse line goes, "Well, if you don't know what a pig is, then we have a
great deal of tedious spadework to do."
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------42----
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1993 22:04 EST
From: John Lavagnino <LAV@BRANDEIS>
Subject: Humanities e-texts

David Latane' writes:

> What worries me is that students will use the database to write
> papers comparing the imagery of poems that they haven't read. So the
> database fetches up the word "star" from the middle of "Prometheus
> Unbound" and the word "star" from the middle of "Endymion," and
> you'll get a perfectly precise bit of muck.

I have to wonder whether we'd really think very highly of such a paper.
Surely it would have to say more about these works than that there's
stars in both; this sort of search is a way to get some leads, but it
doesn't write criticism for you. I think I can tell when a student
hasn't read the text, and I don't see that the situation is different
when it's an electronic text.

But suppose the student starts with Shelley and fetches up a poem for
comparison that's not by Keats, but by Helen Maria Williams, or Leigh
Hunt, or Felicia Hemans. I'll still be able to tell whether the
student's read the poem or not, but to do that I may have to go out and
read a poem I've never seen before, by a poet I may never have heard of
and would never have assigned. The student, in other words, may find it
rather easy to get the jump on me in this world, and start doing things
that test my knowledge of the period rather severely.

Certainly some students may just turn this into another way of writing
bad papers; but others may find it invigorating to explore the trackless
wilderness beyond "Endymion." In any case, we shouldn't be looking for
tools that do our thinking about literature for us; they aren't going to
be forthcoming, in any case. What this sort of collection gives us is a
way to generate and test ideas quickly, and a way to extend our studies
from the familiar stuff into the wider context of contemporary verse.
But it doesn't confer the faculty for seeing what's interesting and
what's not---that still needs to be taught the old way, I think.

John Lavagnino, Department of English, Brandeis University
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------73----
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 93 21:55:31 EST
From: William Kemp <wkemp@s850.mwc.edu>
Subject: re: humanities labs, etexts

Elaine asks more questions than I can possibly think about, so
I'll try to stick to a simple point or two that I almost understand.

Most questions I've seen about etexts in humanities labs (others
as well as Elaine's) are too easy in that they assume a single
answer or push too quickly beyond the question of access to etexts
into speculation about how etext "should" be formulated. For me,
access to text and the forms in which etext might appear are quite
separate questions.

First, I want access to minimally edited, orthographically accurate
texts of early/significant editions of major literary works. I want
(and have got), for example, Q1, Q2, and F1 of HAMLET, in old spelling,
so that I can present to students the raw material of literary study.
My Shakespeare students already have a conservatively edited modern
edition of Shakespeare's plays; that's the text I tell the bookstore
to sell them. I wouldn't teach without it, because it offers up the
plays packaged for American college students; it has good introductions,
helpful pictures, decent semantic glosses. But it *is* packaged, and
it fosters the notion that HAMLET is what David Bevington says HAMLET
is -- that the words of the play are what Bevington has decided the
words of the play are. But in a fundamental way, they're not. HAMLET
is two quarto texts and one folio text, each of them significantly
different from the others. In plain fact, no single HAMLET exists,
and I see no reason why even undergraduate students should be
spared that inconvenient fact. So I use etexts for an assignment
which knocks Bevington's props out from under them.

I also use Michael Best's Hyperstacks SHAKESPEARE'S LIFE AND TIMES
as a way of getting students to look at more background stuff than
they otherwise would unless I talked about it and tested them on
it. So that's another lab use -- a complete package, devised by someone
else, which I simply take off the shelf.

A third use would be one I devise myself, preferably using accurate
etext of the literary work I'm interested in -- etext I get from
someone else, since keying in novels, plays, and epics is not a
worthwhile activity unless one can foresee some specific, significant
reward. For this use I again want plain, accurate text with
minimal SMGL marking to indicate its organization. Once I get that
plain text, if I figure out other things I want to do with it, I
can mark it up myself for my own purposes.

I like two things about etext: we can make it accurate and preserve
the accuracy through countless replications of the text for different
purposes; and we can replicate the text, adding hyperlinks or more
levels of SGML marking, as we develop new, specific uses for the
text. But I think the starting place ought to be a plain, clean,
accurate etext; that's the foundation for everything.

And yes -- I would gladly pay for etexts of works unavailable
otherwise. In fact I do pay for etexts of works also available
in print, because I do different things when I read a page and
when I use a screen.

Bill Kemp
Mary Washington College
Fredericksburg, Va.
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------53----
Date: 24 Feb 93 23:53:37 GMT
From: johnstonj@attmail.com
Subject: Re: Humanities Labs and E-Texts

do the right thing ....

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
I was interest in your inquiry re: electronic texts, since that is the
business I am in. I recently attended CATH 92 in Manchester, and came away
with the conviction that electronic text publication will be successful
only when three factors are combined:

1 -- Definitive, scholarly editions must be availble, preferably from
an internationally recognized press.

2 -- They must be accompanied by a reasonable text retrieval and analysis
program. Clearly, my bias is that WordCruncher is adequate for an
awful lot of applications and people.

3 -- The price must be affordable. While it is well and good for Chadwyck-
Healy to suggest that 6,000 poetry texts at a mere $5.00 each is a
bargain, the entry level price of $30,000 is not designed to promote
electronic scholarship. I am looking at a price beneath $10.00.

My question to you is, do you agree, if not, why? I am assembling a product
line that has all of the above attributes, and am not terribly far off from
releasing it. One bit of help from the academic community would be deeply
appreciated. What texts do you want?

I am convinced that in the very near future, literature will be taught with
the aid of electronic texts. These products will not replace the printed
versions, but merely broaden the educational arsenal. Please tell me what
you think, what you have learned so far, and anything else that comes to mind.

Thank you.

P.S. Elaine, I note that this is going directly back to you. If you would
be so kind as to forward on to the HUMANIST LIST, I would be grateful. JJ