By Jerome McGann
A manifesto for the arts within the electronic age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the historical past of texts, including the equipment wherein they're preserved and made to be had for interpretation, are the overriding topics of humanist research within the twenty-first century. idea and philosophy, that have grounded the arts for many years, now not suffice as an highbrow framework. Jerome McGann proposes we glance as a substitute to philology--a self-discipline which has been out of favor for lots of many years yet which types the troubles of electronic humanities with awesome fidelity.
For centuries, books were tips on how to look after and transmit wisdom. yet as libraries and museums digitize their information and readers abandon paperbacks for pill pcs, 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 demanding research are a similar, the electronic setting is riding disciplines to paintings with new instruments that require significant, and infrequently very tough, institutional adjustments. Now greater than ever, students have to get well the speculation and approach to philological research if the arts are to fulfill their perennial commitments. Textual and editorial scholarship, usually marginalized as a narrowly technical area, could be made a concern of humanists' attention.
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Additional info for A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction
And this field is dynamic because agents in the present—Google and Kluwer, the Library of Congress and JSTOR— are all shaping and interpreting the record in particular and—from a humanist viewpoint—too often in very unfortunate ways. Digitizing the archive is not about replacing it. It’s about making it usable for the present and the future. To do that we have to understand, as best we can, how it functioned—how it made meanings—in the past. A major task lying before us—its technical difficulties are great—is to design a knowledge and information network that integrates, as seamlessly as possible, our paper-based inheritance with the emerging archive of born-digital materials.
The ensuing class discussion quickly reveals the range of possibilities. For materially different types of artifacts—printed texts, maps, photographs—sorting and classifying become yet more complicated when the ultimate purpose is to arrange them in a system that permits coherent analysis and study. The problem is greatly amplified when the manipulable physical properties scale to radically different measures, as is the case with a depository that includes paper-based objects and born-digital objects.
Collex was redesigned for NINES (December 2008) to simplify the access and usability of its key functions. Redesign will doubtless continue as new search and repurposing functions—some planned, some not yet conceived—are implemented. The quality of online information and the knowledge we expect to gain from it thus remains crucial. Scrupulous minds regularly, and rightly, urge caution in using online materials. As we know, they can be quite unreliable or worse. Enthusiastic educators add that the problematic state of online information presents an opportunity to help train students in methods of critical assessment.
A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction by Jerome McGann