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Digital Scholarly Editing

 | 
Matthew James Driscoll
, 
Elena Pierazzo

Section 1. Theories

7. Reading or Using a Digital Edition? Reader Roles in Scholarly Editions

Krista Stinne Greve Rasmussen

Texte intégral

  • 1 Hans Walter Gabler, ‘Theorizing the Digital Scholarly Edition’, Literature Compass, 7 (2010), 43–5 (...)
  • 2 Peter Shillingsburg, From Gutenberg to Google: Electronic Representations of Literary Texts (Cambr (...)

1Hans Walter Gabler has said: ‘We read texts in their native print medium, that is, in books; but we study texts and works in editions–in editions that live in the digital medium’.1 This account of the difference between reading and studying texts is a fitting point of departure for the present chapter. On Gabler’s account, texts should be read in their original media, but they are better studied in editions; and in today’s publishing scene, scholarly editions live on in the digital medium, where the relationship between texts and works can better unfold and so be studied. This, at least, appears to be the general view in the publishing world, where many assumptions about the scholarly edition’s digital potential derive from Peter Shillingsburg’s descriptions of ‘knowledge sites’.2

2The quotation from Gabler indicates three key factors at work in modern scholarly editions: the shift from print to digital media, the relation between texts and editions, and, last but not least, the relationship between reading and studying. These factors can be defined as three basic assumptions that will always govern, to some degree, the work of textual studies. Although these basic assumptions affect the concept of text, the shift in media and the reader, scholarly editors are not always conscious of how they approach these assumptions. Nor are they aware of how their work is affected by them.

3The shift in media can be interpreted as a phase in the history of scholarly editing. During this phase, both the work of publishing scholarly editions and the editions themselves have been influenced by new media, affecting both working practices and the editions’ actual forms of publication. Such changes have obviously been influenced by the possibilities for storage, manipulation and distribution that new media have introduced. Yet it is possible that these changes have been driven less by the concrete use of new media than by assumptions about their potential.

4The relationship between text and work is a crucial distinction that often goes unexamined, despite the fact that it clearly affects the process of publishing scholarly editions. In what follows, a possible distinction between, and definition of, the concepts of text and work will be suggested, as these concepts are central to assumptions about both the reader and the user’s possibilities in digital scholarly editions. The concepts of work and text are significant to readers because they, as readers, simultaneously operate on both an interpretive level and a manipulative level. This has led to the proposed definition of three reader roles–reader, user and co-worker–that can be adopted by readers of scholarly editions. Referring to these levels or modalities as reader roles emphasises, first of all, that taking up such a role presupposes certain conditions of possibility, and secondly, that even within such roles it is possible to be in and out of character. By working with these three categories of reader roles, a ground is prepared for a more precise discussion of whether (or, perhaps more accurately, of when) we are reading or using a scholarly edition, for the very act of studying such editions necessitates that we adopt both roles.

The concept of text

  • 3 Johnny Kondrup, ‘Tekst og værk ― et begrebseftersyn’, in Betydning & forståelse: Festskrift til Ha (...)
  • 4 Edward Vanhoutte, ‘Prose Fiction and Modern Manuscripts: Limitations and Possibilities of Text Enc (...)

5In many ways, the concept of text constitutes the core task of scholarly publishing. It governs both how we transfer texts to scholarly editions and how the editions themselves organise and display the texts they contain. Whereas uncertainty or disagreement about the definition of text can be said to prevail in literary studies,3 within the field of scholarly publishing we find a differently reflective notion of text. Here our concept of text not only governs our acts of transcription and markup,4 but is also decisive for our mode of perceiving the finished product.

  • 5 Johnny Kondrup, Editionsfilologi (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2011), p. 34; Mats Dahlströ (...)
  • 6 The divide between stationary and sequential works originated in G. E. Lessing’s 1766 essay Laocoö (...)

6If we return to the initial quotation from Hans Walter Gabler, in which he describes the digital scholarly edition as the best site for the study of works and texts, we find that his argument rests on a conception of text and work as two separate entities. A work is an immaterial entity that serves as a gathering point for all the texts that we classify under a certain title.5 Thus there exists no one-to-one correspondence between text and work. The latter fact is often exemplified by means of the distinction between stationary and sequential works: stationary works (such as paintings and sculptures) are conceived in space, while sequential works (such as literature and music) are conceived in time.6 Put another way, while stationary works generally have a single original, which can be described as both a work and its manifestation in one, sequential works as a rule comprise several instantiations, i. e. multiple texts that belong to the same work.

7The text may be described as a recording or inscription that represents the work. It is important to emphasise that there does not necessarily exist any temporal relation between work and text. The work does not necessarily precede the text; it is not an a priori Platonic idea. The concept work does not presuppose the existence of an original idea that springs from to the author’s intentions; it is, rather, an a posteriori category that we use to assemble various texts that all belong to the same work. That is to say, we have access to a work only through its texts, which serve as the basis for our readings and interpretations. Naturally, there may be works whose texts have gone missing, or which no longer exist. We can certainly talk about such works, but we cannot subject them to textual analysis or scholarly publication, which is our intention here. A revised second edition of a work, i. e. a new version, still belongs to the same work and in a sense expands it. But if new versions have variations that differ substantially enough from the previous ones, then we can speak of the emergence of a new work. Still, the boundaries are fluid here; only concrete individual assessments can determine whether it is appropriate to speak of a new work.

  • 7 This schema of three levels and their definitions is indebted to the following authors: Kondrup, E (...)
  • 8 Kondrup, Editionsfilologi, p. 38 [my translation].
  • 9 Dahlström, Under utgivning, p. 72.

8The text is not a homogenous entity. Rather, it exists on several partly independent levels. One can differentiate between three levels: ideal text, real text and material text.7 The ideal text is an abstraction constructed on the basis of the real text, to which we have direct access through a material text, which is the materialisation of a text on a printed page or a screen. Thus the material text is not, strictly speaking, a text itself; it is a physical substrate attached to a material document. In printed texts, for example, the material text is the combination of ink and paper. In the case of digital texts, the relationship is more intricate; it can be debated whether the concept of material text may be used for the physical bits of a file, or for the appearance of the text on a screen. Finally, the designation document is also relevant when working with the concepts of work and text. When it comes to printed books, the document is simply ‘the material bearer of one or more real texts’.8 In print, a document serves both as a vehicle of representation (storage of the material text) and presentation (viewing of the real text); whereas these functions are separate for digital documents. When considering digital documents, one should also include the hardware and software that make presentation possible.9

  • 10 Hans Walter Gabler, ‘Thoughts on Scholarly Editing’, 2011, pp. 1–16 (p. 12), http://nbn-resolving. (...)
  • 11 Kondrup, Editionsfilologi, p. 34; Gabler, ‘Thoughts on Scholarly Editing’ , p. 9; and Peter Shilli (...)
  • 12 Gabler, ‘Thoughts on Scholarly Editing’ , p. 9.

9The interrelationship between work, text and document thus needs to be clarified, since it is crucial for the praxis of scholarly publishing. The goals that scholarly editors pursue reflect their approaches to each of these three entities. Gabler articulates this point as follows: ‘For that product of criticism and humanities scholarship, the scholarly edition, the central question arises how it could, or should, relate to the reader’ s quest for the meaning of a work in and through a text’.10 The reader, in other words, pursues an interpretation and understanding of the relevant work through a reading of particular texts. But it is never one single text that gives access to the work; rather, it is customary to regard the work as the sum of its texts.11 It is indeed texts, rather than works, that are revised for publication in scholarly editions. The text of a scholarly edition is not necessarily the text that best represents the original work–although one might wish that were the case, as it is always only one among many textual representations of the work.12

  • 13 Mats Dahlström, ‘The Compleat Edition’, in Text Editing, Print and the Digital World, ed. by Maril (...)

10It is the scholarly edition that relates most critically and reflectively to the relations between the work and its texts. But the text of the scholarly edition is always the scholarly editor’s text, since the scrutiny of textual scholarship itself always represents another interpretation of the work. Scholarly publishing has long since abandoned the ideals of positivism; the editor’s activity is no longer regarded as isolated from current research paradigms or theoretical constraints. Ultimately, the editor’s explicit presence in the text helps to lend authority to the scholarly edition.13 In digital scholarly editions, however, the editor’s mark may at times seem blurred as a result of the encoding process. But the digital organisation and markup of such editions is just as much a product of the editor’s interpretation and explicit intentions.

The media shift

11The ‘media shift’ addressed in this section is specifically defined in terms of the transition from print to digital online scholarly editions. Naturally, digital editions can also include editions published on external storage media, such as CD-ROM. The latter present an interesting intermediate stage, inasmuch as they are physically collected in a medium that is situated in the user’s direct possession; but they will be left out of the present discussion, since they differ in status, ontologically speaking, from internet-based editions. Thus references to digital editions in what follows designate digital editions that are exclusively available online.

12The media shift has also altered our notions of how a scholarly edition can represent the texts of a published work. A scholarly edition in print, one might say, is a complete and singular object in the world: the results of scholarly effort are locked in a printed edition that can be conceived of as completed and closed. The publisher or editors have completed a scholarly effort whose outcome can be accessed using the edition, which is frozen in time (the date of publication) and space (the physical edition). From this spatiotemporal point onward, such an edition’s textual representation of the work can inscribe itself into the work’s reception history, including the history of research about the work. Naturally, the original edition may be replaced by new and revised editions; but the original will always remain a unique statement about the work, constituting one among its many textual versions. Moreover, as mentioned above, it composes a statement that can be attributed to the edition’s editor.

  • 14 Gabler, ‘Thoughts on Scholarly Editing’, p. 15.
  • 15 Paul Eggert, ‘Text-Encoding, Theories of the Text, and the ‘Work-Site’, Literary & Linguistic Comp (...)
  • 16 Peter Robinson, ‘Where We Are with Electronic Scholarly Editions, and Where We Want to Be’, Jahrbu (...)
  • 17 Peter Robinson, ‘The Ends of Editing’, DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly, 3 (2009) http://digitalh (...)

13Digital scholarly editions, by contrast, have features that are practically the opposite of those of print editions. Digital scholarly editions are seemingly incomplete, ambiguous objects; certainly they can be frozen in the form of archived copies of the entire website, but in practice they are open to alteration in a much easier way than printed editions. To describe the difference between the two, Gabler distinguishes between information sites, which are composed of serially arranged collections in books, and knowledge sites, which are ‘relational’ and express ‘creatively participatory intelligence’. Put another way, a knowledge site is ‘a genuine research site’.14 The concept of knowledge site is drawn from Peter Shillingsburg’s 2006 book From Gutenberg to Google, but is also found in earlier descriptions by Paul Eggert (the ‘work site’),15 and Peter Robinson, who label them ‘fluid, collaborative, and distributed editions’ 16 and ‘interactive editions’, respectively.17 These designations for knowledge sites differ in their descriptions of what a knowledge site is, much as they use different names for them. But the starting point is still the same. Knowledge sites must take advantage of digital media’s possibilities; they must give the reader the opportunity to interact with the edition. They are open, dynamic and interactive, as in the following description by Shillingsburg:

  • 18 Shillingsburg, From Gutenberg to Google, p. 88.

Textual archives serve as a base for scholarly editions which serve in tandem with every other sort of literary scholarship to create knowledge sites of current and developing scholarship that can also serve as pedagogical tools in an environment where each user can choose an entry way, select a congenial set of enabling contextual materials, and emerge with a personalized interactive form of the work […] always able to plug in for more information or different perspectives.18

14Knowledge sites can thus better identify the relationship between the work’s texts and other texts that relate to the work. In addition, they represent an unfinished research environment, facilitating readings that never end.

15The ideal of the knowledge site is marked by a high degree of optimism about progress. In this view, the Internet can be a catalyst for scholarly studies, allowing scholars to engage more easily and personally in free knowledge exchange, with the user at the centre. Here we see traces of the ideology of freedom that commonly informs conceptions of digital media. Indeed, the ideologies of the Internet as a whole do not differ measurably from those bound up in the concept of the knowledge site. One can say that the knowledge site is a micro-Internet, and that both are based on the expectation that all relevant information can be gathered in a single place. With respect to scholarly editions, the expectation is to collect all knowledge of a work or an author in a single edition. The question, of course, is how much size really matters. There are good reasons not to let oneself get carried away completely with such optimism, and instead to ask certain basic critical questions about the object and purpose of these scholarly editions.

16While scholarly editions may serve a variety of purposes, they share a common goal of facilitating study of the works that they reproduce. The aim is thus not simply to produce an edition, which amounts to conducting a research project; the aim is just as much to produce an edition for a specific intended audience. For this reason, scholarly editions tend to define their audiences in terms of various user groups–an initial manoeuvre that has not been altered by the media shift. Whereas one formerly spoke only of readers, the media shift has now introduced the reader as a user, but without drawing the requisite distinction between the two.

Reader roles

17Our concept of text plays a significant role in how we theorise digital scholarly editions’ possibilities for reading. The media shift, meanwhile, has had a decisive influence on how the theoretical conception of reading can be deployed in practice. I have chosen to work with a model that includes three reader roles: reader, user and co-worker. This model stems from reflections on the scholarly edition as a knowledge site, inasmuch as knowledge sites grant their readers the opportunity to participate in the publication of research. Meanwhile, in the wake of the media shift, readers have come to be called users just as often as readers–and that in itself is a change worth reflecting on. There can be no doubt that one who reads books is also a user, but he or she is a user whose handling of the medium has become transparent, since he or she has been trained in the medium over a lifetime. With the transition to digital editions it is therefore relevant to discuss the various interpretive levels of the scholarly edition and their relation to the reader. The aim here is not to devise a universal model for reading the text, but to try to theorise the distinctive mode of reading literary works that takes place within a scholarly edition.

  • 19 Gérard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, trans. by Jane E. Lewin (Cambridge: Cambr (...)

18The reader is mainly interested in scholarly editions as reliable academic versions of literary works. Such a reader will seek to interpret and understand the work in and through the texts of a scholarly edition. The degree of interpretation can vary, from the pleasure reading of an ordinary interested reader to a professional reader’s deeper hermeneutical interpretation. The reader operates at a level where the focus is primarily on the relation between text and work. Nevertheless, the reader can also benefit from the edition’s other texts, which could be called paratexts,19 though that is open to debate. These may include introductions and notes, where they can contribute to a better understanding of the work.

19The user also seeks an understanding of the work, but in a more intertextual context, where stress is placed either on the relation between the work’s numerous texts and versions, or on the relation between the work’s own texts and other texts that explain or relate to the work. The latter texts could be explanatory notes, general commentaries, or textual notes and lists of variants. The user may also be interested in the work’s history of transmission, that is, in its various manifestations over time. All in all, what is in focus is the entire text-concept’s three-part division into work, text (s) and original document (s). When the reader acts as a user of the edition, the emphasis is mainly on the edition’s own structure and organisation: on how to use its individual parts, whether these are the texts themselves or the tools that can be used on them.

  • 20 See the chapter by Ray Siemens et al. in the present volume.

20The co-worker seeks to go beyond the user and reader roles, and to contribute actively to the scholarly enterprise. This reader role could also have been called contributor or the like, but the term co-worker signals that, ideally speaking, the reader in this role is likely to take part in the editorial work at some level. This could consist of making annotations, reading proofs, adding encodings, or contributing in other ways to the site’s total production of knowledge. The co-worker’s contribution, in short, does not merely amount to additions or extensions, but forms a genuine part of the edition.20

21These reader roles are neither definitive nor exclusive. They should rather be regarded as modalities – which the reader can inhabit simultaneously, even all three at once. Nevertheless, there is an order of progression to these roles, in the sense that one must be a reader in order to be able to be a user, and one must be both a reader and a user in order to be able to be a co-worker. Indeed, the role of co-worker presupposes considerable commitment to and knowledge of the work at issue: in order to contribute actively to the edition’s production of knowledge, it is necessary to have prior knowledge of both the scholarly edition and the published work. To be sure, one can imagine situations in which one could contribute to an edition without knowing the work–as when transcriptions or encodings are crowdsourced. But in such a case we would be dealing with a contributor, rather than with a reader inhabiting a reader role. And it is entirely conceivable that a contributor might, for example, be participating in a project involving texts that he or she cannot read at all.

22Reader roles are a function of how we manipulate and interpret an edition’s texts, and so fulfilling each role involves action at two levels: the level of manipulation and the level of interpretation. In the wake of the media shift, the physical manipulation of an edition’s documents has received increased attention. With printed books, physical manipulation goes more or less unarticulated, since it has become an integrated cultural habit. But when the medium takes centre stage, as occurred during the media shift, it can become unmanageable and problematic for the reader. At the same time, new media also make it possible to do things in new ways. They pave the way for discussions of what a digital scholarly edition actually is and can become–of which this anthology is an example.

  • 21 Bertrand Gervais, ‘Is There a Text on This Screen? Reading in an Era of Hypertextuality’, in Compa (...)

23In a 2008 article, Bertrand Gervais distinguishes among three levels of reading in relation to digital texts: the level of manipulation, focused on the handling of texts and on their actual acquisition; next the level of comprehension, directed at reading as an understanding of the linguistic text itself; and finally the level of interpretation, in which connections are drawn between the text and other texts that explain it.21 In the article, Gervais discusses e-literature, which moves us (he claims) from a logic of discovery to a logic of revelation, in which knowledge and information are not arrived at by discovering meaningful similarities between texts on one’s own, but are given to us by means of the hyperlink, as a revelation. This is because the connection between the two texts is already given to us by another, allowing us–thanks to the hyperlink–to move quickly and easily through the network of texts that the Internet as a whole represents. With the hyperlink’s advent, meaning is revealed. And this turns the reader into a user, since responsibility for the discoveries rests with the one who has added the hyperlink, not the one who has activated it.

  • 22 Jakob Nielsen, Hypertext and Hypermedia (Boston: Academic Press, 1990), p. 2.

24Gervais discusses e-literature, particularly hyperfictions, which are marked by their use of the hyperlink’s logic of revelation as an explicit literary tool. Hypertext literature makes the hyperlink into an organising principle, so that the plot, action and progression of the literary work are determined by the reader’s choice among various links. But Gervais’ argumentation is also interesting in relation to scholarly editions, because even those in book form can readily be regarded as hyperlink-structured. After all, a printed note apparatus is comparable to hyperlinks; and indeed the hyperlink was first introduced, in the literature, as a generalised footnote.22 The scholarly edition thus represents Gervais’ logic of revelation par excellence. By virtue of the scholarly edition, the editor reveals relationships to the reader: not only relationships among the various texts that belong to the work, but also those between them and other texts related to the work.

  • 23 Henrik Ibsens Skrifter, http://www.ibsen.uio.no/forside.xhtml

25My point is not that the universe of digital texts simply turns readers into users. Gervais’ three levels (manipulation, comprehension and interpretation) do not function in quite the same way as do my three reader roles. Instead, one might say that each reader role contains all three of Gervais’ levels, which serve as the foundation for every successful reading of literature. The reader must always act on all three of Gervais’ levels, manipulation, comprehension and interpretation; but once the reader has taken up one of the three reader roles in relation to a scholarly edition, then it will mainly be the work, its texts and the edition (or website) that the reader, user or co-worker will respectively focus on. In all three reader roles, documents must be manipulated, and texts must be read and decoded. But for the reader qua reader it does not matter whether there are opportunities to contribute to the edition, or whether the page includes extra materials such as timelines, analyses etc. What mainly matters to the reader is that such features do not interfere with or impede the reading. This can be assured, for example, by allowing readers to download the edition. This is the case with Henrik Ibsens Skrifter, the online collected works of Henrik Ibsen.23

  • 24 Matthew Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (...)

26It should not be necessary to point out that the term ‘physical documents’ naturally also includes digital documents. Discussion of the concept of materiality would take us too far afield, so let a reference to Matthew Kirschenbaum’s excellent analysis of the materiality of digital texts in Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination suffice.24 A distinction is often drawn between media in which representation and presentation are joined or separate. A printed book, for example, contains both representation and presentation, and so requires no external hardware or software in order to be read. Digital texts, on the other hand, just as was the case with LPs and CDs, are in a sense mere stored data, and require an external playback medium in order to be played. Indeed, this is the heart of the matter: digital texts cannot be read without playback. On the other hand, occasions where playback is a problem have become less and less frequent; as a result, the presentation of texts is not necessarily experienced as separate from their representation. With respect to digital editions, it may be said that as long as there is access to the Internet and to the site that houses the edition, there is also access to both storage and display of the documents. Even if there are technical problems with the display, it is still the case that once the reader has gained access to the edition, it reaches the reader as a package.

  • 25 Anne Mangen, ‘Hypertext Fiction Reading: Haptics and Immersion’, Journal of Research in Reading, 3 (...)
  • 26 Ibid., p. 413.
  • 27 Ibid., p. 415.

27The difference between print and digital lies in our phenomenological understanding of a document. The physical book is present to us as a full-fledged object in the world even when we are not reading it. When we hold a printed book in our hands, even its unseen dimensions–e.g. the back cover–are present to us, and form a part of our overall phenomenological experience.25 Digital texts, on the other hand, are given to us only partially and piecemeal while we have them on our screens. At the same time, one may say that the hyperlink structure complicates our immersion in the texts, because we feel a psychological need to pursue the distractions offered by the links. Anne Mangen speaks of ‘the urge to click’, and explains: ‘In order for phenomenological immersion to be obtained, our cognitive capacity needs to be more or less fully occupied in a cohering and consistent way so that we do not experience any perceptual or cognitive surplus of attention available to other tasks’.26 The urge to click can easily become too tempting to resist, if we are cognitively or perceptually stimulated with possibilities that seem more exciting than what we are presently focused on. Knowledge sites have a wealth of potentials that can risk disrupting our phenomenological preoccupation with them, thereby limiting the possibility of hermeneutical reflection.27

28Let us recall our initial quotation from Hans Walter Gabler. His point was precisely that works should be read not on knowledge sites, but on information sites, which he equates with printed books. His distinction seems correct, with the proviso that ‘books’ need not be printed. Books should be understood, instead, as phenomenologically limited devices that permit hermeneutical reflection. This means that there is no question of an ontological distinction between print and digital editions, but rather of a phenomenological distinction between finished and unfinished editions. The potential of knowledge sites is to develop relationships between the work, its text, and documents in a way that printed books cannot, because the individual parts cannot be put in direct contact with each other in the same way. Knowledge sites permit other types of studies of the scholarly edition than we have been accustomed to; and because they are dynamic, they can potentially be extended indefinitely, and so offer new paths into and out of the work. New versions of the work may be issued and offered to the reader, but these always will–or always should–stand side by side with previous versions as a series of standalone statements about the work. This means that when an editor issues a new or different edition, this new version does not overwrite the previous one–as might be the case with digital editions as a whole, for which updates to the site can delete and replace previous versions. Of course, digital scholarly editions need not be knowledge sites, and can certainly be completed as research and scholarly publication projects; but they will always require some form of updating, or at least migration.

29What seems to be needed is a more general discussion of the relation between scholarly editions qua research project and qua publication project. For example, when Shillingsburg states (in the citation provided earlier) that when it comes to knowledge sites, users can always go back online for more information, this is precisely because a knowledge site is a locus for continuous knowledge enhancement, much like a library or an archive. The same is true for digital editions that regularly publish new works. Research and reception are always in progress, a fact that may be relevant for the reader-as-user. However, for the reader-as-reader, it is not necessarily advantageous that the site on which the text is read changes continuously. Moreover, it is questionable to what extent the resources that are relevant to the user are at all of interest to the reader.

  • 28 Peter Robinson, ‘Electronic Editions for Everyone’, in Text and Genre in Reconstruction: Effects o (...)
  • 29 Petra Söderlund, ‘Tryckt eller elektronisk variantredovisning ― Varför och för vem?’, in Digitala (...)

30In his article ‘Electronic Editions for Everyone’, Peter Robinson points out that there are in fact very few readers who care to see all of a text’s facsimiles, transcripts and collations.28 Robinson argues that only very few readers have an interest in taking on the user role and making use of the resources made available to them; and this seems to be confirmed by Petra Söderlund’s study of the actual use made of the information provided in variant apparatuses.29 Söderlund found that information provided in the variant apparatuses included in Svenska Vitterhetssamfundet’s editions is rarely deployed in arguments made in analyses of the works.

  • 30 Sören A. Steding, Computer-Based Scholarly Editions: Context, Concept, Creation, Clientele (Berlin (...)

31Sören A. Steding arrived at a similar result in his dissertation on Computer-Based Scholarly Editions. Steding conducted a survey of students and university staff on their use and knowledge of scholarly editions. Respondents were asked to describe, among other things, the motives that led them to select scholarly editions. The four reasons given most often were access to reliable texts, comments and annotations that facilitate comprehension, details of the published texts’ bibliographic data and verification of quotations from published authors. Out of the ten possible answers, access to textual variants and use of manuscript facsimiles came in, respectively, sixth and tenth most frequently.30 The question, then, is which of the reader’s interests are being served with comprehensive, large-scale scholarly editions. For the readers, it is important to be able to use the texts to immerse themselves in the work. Authentic reading, therefore, requires a reliable edition that may not necessarily be the best textual representation of the work, but at least reflects the editor’s own explicit statements and textual version. The reader needs a singular object in which the text can be read. For the user, on the other hand, it is interesting to explore the texts and relate them to one another and possibly to other texts. The user studies the work, rather than reading it; the co-worker takes part in the total knowledge production of the website that houses the edition.

  • 31 This chapter has been translated from Danish by David Possen. The ideas and arguments presented he (...)

32So, do we read digital scholarly editions, or use them? The answer is obvious: we do both. While it can be useful to identify an explicit target audience as a starting-point for work on a scholarly edition, one should also take into account how readers can interact with the edition in these different roles, for how a work is made accessible to an audience is ultimately a question of how the texts are related to each other. Digital texts are material enough: they are neither ephemeral nor necessarily ever-changeable. But if digital editions are unfinished and open, then the relationship between the work’s texts will be unfinished and open as well–a fact that will be of benefit to the user, but not necessarily to the reader.31

Notes

1 Hans Walter Gabler, ‘Theorizing the Digital Scholarly Edition’, Literature Compass, 7 (2010), 43–56 (p. 46), http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-4113.2009.00675.x

2 Peter Shillingsburg, From Gutenberg to Google: Electronic Representations of Literary Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

3 Johnny Kondrup, ‘Tekst og værk ― et begrebseftersyn’, in Betydning & forståelse: Festskrift til Hanne Ruus, ed. by Dorthe Duncker, Anne Mette Hansen and Karen Skovgaard-Petersen (Copenhagen: Selskab for nordisk filologi, 2013), pp. 65–76.

4 Edward Vanhoutte, ‘Prose Fiction and Modern Manuscripts: Limitations and Possibilities of Text Encoding for Electronic Editions’, in Electronic Textual Editing, ed. by Lou Burnard, Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe and John Unsworth (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2006), pp. 161–80 (p. 171).

5 Johnny Kondrup, Editionsfilologi (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2011), p. 34; Mats Dahlström, Under utgivning: Den vetenskapliga utgivningens bibliografiska funktion (Borås: Valfrid, 2006), p. 61.

6 The divide between stationary and sequential works originated in G. E. Lessing’s 1766 essay Laocoön, but was further developed by G. Thomas Tanselle, from whom the Swedish bibliographer Rolf E. DuRietz derived it. DuRietz’s book can serve as a basic reference book for bibliographical terminology. Rolf E. DuRietz, Den tryckta skriften: Termer och begrepp: Grunderna till bibliografin, för biblioteken och antikvariaten, för bibliografer och textutgivare, för bokhistoriker och boksamlare (Uppsala: Dahlia Books, 1999), p. 35.

7 This schema of three levels and their definitions is indebted to the following authors: Kondrup, Editionsfilologi, pp. 36–38; Dahlström, Under utgivning, pp. 63–70; and DuRietz, Den tryckta skriften, pp. 41–53. Kondrup employs the same concepts that are introduced here.

8 Kondrup, Editionsfilologi, p. 38 [my translation].

9 Dahlström, Under utgivning, p. 72.

10 Hans Walter Gabler, ‘Thoughts on Scholarly Editing’, 2011, pp. 1–16 (p. 12), http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0222-001542

11 Kondrup, Editionsfilologi, p. 34; Gabler, ‘Thoughts on Scholarly Editing’ , p. 9; and Peter Shillingsburg, ‘How Literary Works Exist: Implied, Represented, and Interpreted’, in Text and Genre in Reconstruction: Effects of Digitalization on Ideas, Behaviours, Products and Institutions, ed. by Willard McCarty (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2010), pp. 165–82 (p. 171), http://dx.doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0008

12 Gabler, ‘Thoughts on Scholarly Editing’ , p. 9.

13 Mats Dahlström, ‘The Compleat Edition’, in Text Editing, Print and the Digital World, ed. by Marilyn Deegan and Kathryn Sutherland (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 27–44 (p. 11).

14 Gabler, ‘Thoughts on Scholarly Editing’, p. 15.

15 Paul Eggert, ‘Text-Encoding, Theories of the Text, and the ‘Work-Site’, Literary & Linguistic Computing, 20 (2005), 425–35, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqi050

16 Peter Robinson, ‘Where We Are with Electronic Scholarly Editions, and Where We Want to Be’, Jahrbuch für Computerphilologie, 5 (2003), http://computerphilologie.unimuenchen.de/jg03/robinson.html

17 Peter Robinson, ‘The Ends of Editing’, DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly, 3 (2009) http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000051/000051.html

18 Shillingsburg, From Gutenberg to Google, p. 88.

19 Gérard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, trans. by Jane E. Lewin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

20 See the chapter by Ray Siemens et al. in the present volume.

21 Bertrand Gervais, ‘Is There a Text on This Screen? Reading in an Era of Hypertextuality’, in Companion to Digital Literary Studies, ed. by Ray Siemens and Susan Schreibman (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companionDLS

22 Jakob Nielsen, Hypertext and Hypermedia (Boston: Academic Press, 1990), p. 2.

23 Henrik Ibsens Skrifter, http://www.ibsen.uio.no/forside.xhtml

24 Matthew Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008).

25 Anne Mangen, ‘Hypertext Fiction Reading: Haptics and Immersion’, Journal of Research in Reading, 31 (2008), 404–19 (p. 408), http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9817.2008.00380.x

26 Ibid., p. 413.

27 Ibid., p. 415.

28 Peter Robinson, ‘Electronic Editions for Everyone’, in Text and Genre in Reconstruction: Effects of Digitalization on Ideas, Behaviours, Products and Institutions, ed. by Willard McCarty (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2010), pp. 145–63 (p. 150), http://dx.doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0008

29 Petra Söderlund, ‘Tryckt eller elektronisk variantredovisning ― Varför och för vem?’, in Digitala och tryckta utgåvor: Erfarenheter, planering och teknik i förändring, ed. by Pia Forssell (Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 2011), pp. 93–109.

30 Sören A. Steding, Computer-Based Scholarly Editions: Context, Concept, Creation, Clientele (Berlin: Logos, 2002), p. 243.

31 This chapter has been translated from Danish by David Possen. The ideas and arguments presented here are further developed in my PhD thesis, ‘Bytes, bøger og læsere: En editionshistorisk analyse af medieskiftet fra trykte til digitale videnskabelige udgaver med udgangspunkt i Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter’ (Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, 2015), http://forskning.ku.dk/find-en-forsker/?pure=files%2F131207090%2FPh.d._2015_Greve_Rasmussen.pdf

Auteur

Took her PhD at the University of Copenhagen in 2015. She has participated in the Velux-funded research project Dansk editionshistorie (History of Editing in Denmark) and has worked as a scholarly editor at The Works of Grundtvig project at the University of Aarhus (2010–2011). Her main research interests are scholarly editing, new media, the history of the book and literary criticism. She is a member of the governing bodies for the Nordisk netværk for boghistorie (Nordic Network for Book History) and the Nordisk netværk for editionsfilologer (Nordic Network for Textual Scholarship)

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