I should like to use the name scholarly edition for editions which preserve or rescue a work of artistic, social, intellectual, or historical importance as an artifact.
I should like to use the name scholarly edition for editions that preserve or rescue a work of artistic, social, intellectual, or historical importance as an artifact.
Scholarly edition. An edition with texts established and verified according to the standards of the academic community. Such editions are also often referred to as authoritative.
There is a temptation to use the term archive to describe such work-sites. But we need to remember that archival acts and editorial acts are, for good reasons, traditionally seen as performing different operations on or with texts. Editions turn documentary facts, derived from the archive, into evidence: that is, evidence within the orbit of the editorial rationale adduced to deal with the documents. The hardback edition is therefore an inherently provisional embodiment of an argument, however impressive its printed form may be.
By scholarly edition, I mean the establishment of a text on explicitly stated principles and by someone with specialized knowledge about textual scholarship and the writer or writers involved. An edition is scholarly both because of the rigor with which the text is reproduced or altered and because of the expertise brought to bear on the task and in the offering of suitable introductions, notes, and textual apparatus. Mere digitizing produces information; in contrast, scholarly editing produces knowledge.
In general outline, a scholarly edition is the presentation of a text – literary, historical, philosophical, juridical – or of a work (mainly, a work of literature) in its often enough several texts, through the agency of an editor in lieu of the author of the text, or work. We see the editor as ‘agency’, functionary and guardian of the lifeline between work (or text) and author.[…] The base line of my understanding of the scholarly edition is that it is a web of discourses. These discourses are interrelated and of equal standing. They are constituted, as discourses, by the editor, or team of editors, who provide as well as guarantee the edition’s coherence and intellectual focus. With their name or names, too, the editor or editors publicly assume responsibility for the construct of the edition as a whole.
Not an overly spectacular definition, perhaps. Yet looked at closely, it may be seen to turn the traditional sense of editions on its head by making not author and text, but the editor pivotal to an edition.
It is worth noting, however, that the term “scholarly edition” is a wider one [than [“critical” edition]. It also embraces editions that exclude critical determination in favor of reproducing uncritically the texts of existing documents.
A scholarly edition is an information resource which offers a critical representation of (normally) historical documents or texts.
A scholarly edition is a publication that provides an important work of literature or historical document that has been prepared by experts in the field. These can be in print or digital forms (or a combination of the two). An example of a scholarly edition in print would be a volume of a play by Shakespeare that includes a long introduction, lots of footnotes or endnotes and variants of the text. Scholarly editions in digital form generally serve the same purpose as the print editions but can provide other features such as including digitised images of original manuscript documents, a search functionality and it can have interactive elements such as maps and videos. Digital editions have less restrictions in terms of space, so they can sometimes include a large collection of texts at which point it may be called a digital archive.
As previously mentioned, in collecting and cataloguing scholarly editions to serve as an empirical basis for deeper analysis, I have been working with my own definition for many years now. This definition simply reads:
Edition ist die erschließende Wiedergabe historischer Dokumente.
In German, this works quite well. Unfortunately, however, it relies on the central, yet untranslatable, term erschließen, which encompasses any activity that increases the amount of information concerning a specific object and thus enhances its accessibility and usability. Depending on context, words such as develop, open up, deduce or infer may be used to render this concept in English. They do not cover the wider notion intended here, however. To capture the basic idea that all of these processes involve making thoughtful, reflective and reasonable judgments about the objects of study, the word critical may not only be an approximation but an even better label for the concept. Thus, I propose the following definition:
A scholarly edition is the critical representation of historic documents.