Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Shakespeare Association of America: Monitoring Electronic Shakespeare

Victoria, BC, April 12, 2003

Cast in order of appearance:

Chair: Michael Best (University of Victoria): "A Short History of the Short History of Electronic Shakespeares"

Sonia Massai

Title: "Redefining the Role of the Editor for the Electronic Medium: A New Internet Shakespeare Edition of Edward III."

My paper will showcase samples of a new electronic edition of The Reign of King Edward III, which I am preparing for the Internet Shakespeare Editions Series, by means of an online power point presentation. The editorial strategy and the type and range of materials included in this new edition will be discussed in relation to current editorial theories and recent attempts to devise a new rationale of scholarly editions for the electronic medium.

The general aim of the Internet Shakespeare Editions is 'to make scholarly, fully annotated texts of Shakespeare's plays available in a form native to the medium of the Internet'. McGann, McKenzie and others have shown us that literary works are fundamentally social rather than personal or psychological products and that the medium through which they are transmitted, which used to be seen as a 'process of contamination, É may well be seen as a process of training [those texts] for [their] appearance in the world' (J. J. McGann, A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (1983). My paper will show how electronic editions can provide a wider range of searchable textual, performance and critical materials than it was ever possible to include in traditional editions. I will also show how the electronic medium can improve traditional editorial activities, such as establishing the order in which the formes of an early modern play text were printed through distribution of type or whether the text was corrected at press. More crucially, though, my paper will stress how the features of the new medium can help us rethink current editorial methods and practices.

Unlike paper editions, electronic editions no longer grant the editor's text a privileged position over the wide range of other texts available. The user of Edward III can access a homepage listing links to different categories of available materials. These materials include a large group of texts, including a diplomatic transcription of the first quarto (1596) and photographic images of the most important texts in the editorial tradition of this unusual play. Among these, the second quarto (1599), Capell's edition of 1760 (first Shakespearean attribution), Warnke and Proescholdt's edition of 1886 (first edition based on Q1), G.C. Moore Smith's edition of 1897 (first modern spelling edition), C.F. Tucker Brooke's edition of 1905 (standard modern edition before the 1990s), and my own edition, along with extracts from other late twentieth-century editions, such as Lapides (1980), Sams (1996) and Melchiori (1998). This arrangement helps the user realize that the editorial tradition is not an evolutionary process whereby editors get closer and closer to recovering the text as conceived by the author (New Bibliography) or the script of the first performance (Oxford, 1986). Paradoxically, the electronic medium can make users aware of the contingent and historically determined nature of Shakespearean printed drama as a material object. Similarly, by allowing users to compare full texts of earlier editions as opposed to reducing the editorial tradition to few cryptic textual notes, the electronic medium can help users understand that the editor's task is to construct textual artefacts as opposed to reconstruct a lost original. Besides, by including the full text of the first and the second quarto, my edition of Edward III makes clear that the editorial tradition starts in the sixteenth rather than in the eighteenth century. Cuthbert Burby, the publisher of the 'newly corrected, augmented, and amended' second quarto edition of Romeo and Juliet, was also the publisher of the two early modern editions of Edward III. If not to the same extent as the second quarto of Romeo and Juliet, the second quarto of Edward III clearly shows a discerning annotator at work and therefore represents a 'substantive' edition of the play (Berger, 1988). Last but not least, my edition of Edward III aims to make the user more directly involved in the authorship controversy. While keeping the current popularity of the Shakespearean attribution in mind, my edition will encourage users to consider this issue critically, by providing links to other works by Shakespeare, along with excerpts from the debate.

Far from aiming to replace the 'metaphysical universals and totalities' of romantic aesthetics, which still informed the New Bibliographers' attempt to recover the "lost original" through eclectic editing, with the 'expansionist agenda of the textual archive' (Sutherland, 1998), my edition aims to provide an important research tool for students and scholars of Shakespeare and early modern drama. In 2000, Susan Hockey could still complain that 'there is no model for electronic editions', and that 'most experiments lack a framework or structure within which the reader can operate'. I believe that the Internet Shakespeare Editions go some way toward filling this gap.

Biography: Sonia Massai is a Lecturer in English Studies at St. Mary's College (University of Surrey). She has edited Titus Andronicus for the New Penguin Shakespeare Series and Thomas Heywood's The Wise Woman of Hoxton for the Globe Quartos Series. She is currently editing Edward III for the Internet Shakespeare Editions and John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore for the Arden Early Modern Drama Series. She is currently completing her book on Shakespeare and the Rise of the Editorial Tradition: 1509-1709 and has contributed articles on the printing and publication of early modern drama in Shakespeare Survey and Studies in English Literature. She has also published articles on Shakespearean adaptations in the Restoration and early Augustan period and is currently editing a new collection on World-Wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance for Routledge.


Jonathan Hope and Michael Witmore

Title: "The Very Large Textual Object: A Prosthetic Reading of Shakespeare."
Abstract: This paper will present new research into computer document analysis of Shakespeare's texts, and ways of visualising texts as continuous surfaces rather than linear strings. There will be lots of graphs and diagrams, and we hold out the hope that in the future no one will need to 'read' Shakespeare in the old physical way: machines will do it for us. For the sake of continuity with current scholarship, however, we will be offering a reading of the F1 genre divisions on the basis of the verbal physiognomy of the texts.

Jonathan Hope is Reader in Literary Linguistics at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. His book, The Authorship of Shakespeare's Plays was published by CUP in 1994. He is currently linguistics advisor to the Arden Shakespeare, and Shakespeare's Grammar, a reference guide to Shakespeare's grammar will appear this year.

Michael Witmore is an associate professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University. His book, Culture of Accidents: Unexpected Knowledges in Early Modern England, was published by Stanford in 2001 and was the co-winner of the Barbara and George Perkins Prize for the Study of Narrative Literature in 2003. He is currently writing a book about child witnesses and performers in the English renaissance.


Paul Werstine

Title: "Compositor XML: Electronic New Bibliography."
Abstract: This paper examines the opportunities for editorial research and book history provided by electronic resources. It begins with a paradox. The introduction of humanities computing coincided in the 1960s and 1970s with a flourishing of editorial scholarship--collation of uncollated copies of earlier printed Shakespeare texts to evaluate the quality of stop-press correction, identification of compositors, meticulous study of the recurrence of distinctively damaged individual types for the purpose of discovering the order in which formes of a book went to press. In those days computers were available only to a very few experts, although these few generated some very useful tools, like Howard-Hill's Oxford Shakespeare Concordances. Now computers are widely available and offer great opportunity to continue this work, yet almost no one now conducts such editorial investigation, although book history does prosper. This paper speculates on why this situation may obtain, but quickly moves on to discussion of the quality of the resources available, comparing Early English Books on Line and Chadwyck-Healey's LION and some Octavo CD-ROMs that are either available or in process.
Biography: Paul Werstine is Professor of English at King's College and in the Graduate English Department of the University of Western Ontario. He has written widely about the transcription, printing and editing of early modern English drama, contributing, for example, the chapter on "Shakespeare" to Scholarly Editing: A Guide To Research, ed. David Greetham (New York: MLA, 1995). He is co-editor of the New Folger Library edition of Shakespeare and general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare, to which he will contribute an edition of Romeo and Juliet.


Michael Best

Title: "A Short History of the Short History of Electronic Shakespeares."

In the brief time allotted to the Chair of the session, I will discuss some of the highlights of scholarship in the field of electronic text and Shakespeare. In the early days of mainframe computing, Trevor Howard-Hill transcribed major texts, quarto and folio, using a simplified system of what we now call "tagging" to indicate features like italic type, page signatures and so on. Since his pioneering work, electronic texts have become much more sophisticated in their display, but in most cases only marginally more scholarly. The Internet Shakespeare Editions are in the process of changing this regrettable fact through the hard work of its editors, represented in this panel by Sonia Massai. The computer has also made far more achievable a way of looking at texts that focuses on patterns of individual words. Computers are very good a counting and categorizing, so a number of pioneering scholars have taken advantage of its capacity to create sophisticated concordances and protocols for recognizing linguistic patterns. Ian Lancashire, Donald Foster, Ward Elliot -- and in this session Jonathan Hope and Michael Witmore -- find ways of looking at the text vertically, like a pack of cards unshuffled into orderly suits. Finally, Paul Werstine looks for reasons why computers have been less used in solving puzzles of the text than seemed likely when they were first began to be used by Humanities scholars, and considers the current state of the art of the electronic text on CD-ROM.

Biography: Michael Best is Professor in the Department of English, University of Victoria, B.C., and Coordinating Editor of the Internet Shakespeare Editions. In print media, he has published scholarly editions on Renaissance magic and the English housewife in the Renaissance, and he is the author of the chapter in Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide on Internet resources. In electronic media, he has published two CD ROMs, Shakespeare's Life and Times (1995) and A Shakespeare Suite (2003); he has also published a software program for the electronic marking of student papers, DynaMark (1992); scholarly electronic articles on the Internet Shakespeare Editions, on the design of Web pages, on the use of electronic resources in scholarship and teaching, and on the credibility of electronic publishing.