A Lexicon of Scholarly Editing

The Babel of Scholarly Editing

In November 2009, the topic of the annual conference of the European Society for Textual Scholarship was Texts beyond Borders: Multilingualism and Textual Scholarship (19-21 November 2009). The logo of the conference was Peter Brueghel the Elder’s image of the Tower of Babel, the so-called little version (kept at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam).

At this and following conferences, the need was expressed by several members of ESTS to create a lexicon of scholarly editing similar to undertakings in different disciplines and editorial traditions, and in different linguistic areas, a nice example being the French Dictionnaire de critique génétique (edited by Daniel Ferrer, Lydie Rauzier and Aurèle Crasson). Given the divergence of traditions, languages and contexts, such an undertaking is almost ‘doomed to fail’ from the start – to quote Samuel Beckett.

Towards a Lexicon of Scholarly Editing

But Beckett is also the author of that other quote: ‘Fail better.’ Under this motto, this lexicon was initiated in November 2012 by the European Society for Textual Scholarship (ESTS) and the Centre for Manuscript Genetics (part of the research group Literature and Modernity, University of Antwerp), as part of ESTS’s aim to provide an international and interdisciplinary forum for the theory and practice of textual scholarship in Europe.

Its aim is not to create new definitions, but to gather existing definitions for every entry in the lexicon. Many of these concepts have given rise to lively debates in the past and several eminent scholars have made courageous attempts to define them in monographs or scholarly journals. Every entry will be defined by means of one or more quotations from giants, offering their shoulders to future generations to stand on.

All quotations are referenced and the text from which they derive can be found in the bibliography. Although the lingua franca of the ESTS and of this lexicon is English, the definitions do not need to be restricted to quotations from articles or monographs in English.

All suggestions for updates are very welcome. New entries or other definitions can be added on the Contribute page. New contributions will be presented to the lexicon’s editors. Once accepted, new updates to the site will also be added to the News blog.

Dirk Van Hulle

President European Society for Textual Scholarship (2010-2013)

18 November 2012

The development of this Lexicon was made possible thanks to the support of the European Research Council, who awarded an ERC Starting Grant to Dirk Van Hulle for a project titled ‘Creative Undoing and Textual Scholarship: A Rapprochement between Genetic Criticism and Scholarly Editing’.

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