By Jerome McGann
A manifesto for the arts within the electronic age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the background of texts, including the equipment during which they're preserved and made on hand for interpretation, are the overriding matters of humanist examine within the twenty-first century. conception and philosophy, that have grounded the arts for many years, now not suffice as an highbrow framework. Jerome McGann proposes we glance in its place to philology--a self-discipline which has been out of style for lots of many years yet which types the worries of electronic humanities with astonishing fidelity.
For centuries, books were the right way to safeguard and transmit wisdom. yet as libraries and museums digitize their records and readers abandon paperbacks for capsule desktops, electronic media are changing books because the repository of cultural reminiscence. whereas either the challenge of the arts and its conventional modes of scholarship and significant examine are an identical, the electronic setting is using disciplines to paintings with new instruments that require significant, and infrequently very tricky, institutional adjustments. Now greater than ever, students have to get better the speculation and approach to philological research if the arts are to satisfy their perennial commitments. Textual and editorial scholarship, frequently marginalized as a narrowly technical area, can be made a concern of humanists' attention.
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Additional resources for A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction
But our literary works—informational as well as imaginative—are not simply alphanumeric entities waiting to be engaged by a particular reader. 22 from history to method The need to migrate our cultural heritage to a digital condition has exposed the serious limitations in such an approach to the study of our cultural inheritance. The historical record is composed of a vast set of specific material objects that have been created and passed along through an even more vast network of agents and agencies.
It will either disappear through what we might call, adapting Robert Frost, “the slow smokeless burning of decay” and neglect; or it will get—wonderful word—deaccessioned. Alas, the latter process regularly happens “behind the backs,” as Marx was wont to say, of seriously interested parties. Of this we were recently reminded by the Google Settlement discussions, which took place behind the backs of the educational community. —and then as to “the limitations of the new technology [that will] trap and tempt us” into error, the volatile state of our new technology has multiplied those dangers.
Forster imagined at the conclusion of his novel A Passage to India. Though the book is an imagination of failure, that imagination also held out a promise of possible success. The promise lay recorded in the details of the place of failure, whose memory Forster urges us to cherish. ” said [Cyril Fielding to Dr. Aziz], holding him affectionately. “It’s what I want. ” (Chapter 37) Forgotten gods lurk in those small things of the world and they have long memories. Philology tells us we should listen to their hundreds of voices as we try making our ways to India.
A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction by Jerome McGann