Fischer, Franz (2012). All texts are equal, but... Textual Plurality and the Critical Text in Digital Scholarly Editions. Variants, 10. European Society for Textual Scholarship (ESTS).


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Is there a future for the “old philology”? Why are “truly critical” and “truly digital” editions so rare? This article discusses the questions raised at the Leuven round table by showcasing two scholarly editions that claim to be both digital and critical: the edition of William of Auxerre’s Summa de officiis ecclesiasticis, an early thirteenth century Latin treatise on liturgy, and the so-called HyperStack edition of Saint Patrick’s Confessio, a fifth-century open letter by Ireland’s patron saint, also written in Latin and the oldest text that has survived from Ireland in any language. In giving a comparative introduction to both of these online editions — to their underlying methodology and theoretical implications — I will make the following arguments: (1) Critical texts matter. The critical reconstruction of an assumed original text version as intended by an author remains of major interest for most textual scholars and historians as well as any person with an interest in historical texts. (2) Critical texts have the same legitimacy as various and different manifestations of a text. Digital editions enable the presentation of textual plurality. (3) There is no reason intrinsic to the digital medium that makes the idea of a critical text obsolete. Rather, a critical text can serve as the standard reference, as an ideal text to start with and as a portal to access the variety of textual manifestations of a particular work.

Item Type: Journal Article
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Fischer, Franzfranz.fischer@uni-koeln.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
EditorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-50569
Journal or Publication Title: Variants
Volume: 10
Date: 2012
Publisher: European Society for Textual Scholarship (ESTS)
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 8: Philosophie > Philosophisches Seminar > Thomas-Institut
Subjects: News media, journalism, publishing
Christian theology
Language, Linguistics
Italic Latin
Other languages
Geography and history
References: LECTIO Round Table discussion on “Digital or critical / digital and critical?”, KU Leuven, 21 November 2011
Refereed: Yes


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