Read e-book online A new republic of letters : memory and scholarship in the PDF

By Jerome McGann

ISBN-10: 0674369246

ISBN-13: 9780674369245

ISBN-10: 0674728696

ISBN-13: 9780674728691

A manifesto for the arts within the electronic age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the historical past of texts, including the tools through which they're preserved and made to be had for interpretation, are the overriding topics of humanist research within the twenty-first century. thought and philosophy, that have grounded the arts for many years, 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 plenty of many years yet which versions the worries of electronic humanities with outstanding fidelity.

For centuries, books were find out how to guard and transmit wisdom. yet as libraries and museums digitize their records and readers abandon paperbacks for capsule pcs, electronic media are changing books because the repository of cultural reminiscence. whereas either the project of the arts and its conventional modes of scholarship and significant learn are an identical, the electronic atmosphere is using disciplines to paintings with new instruments that require significant, and infrequently very tricky, institutional adjustments. Now greater than ever, students have to recuperate the speculation and approach to philological research if the arts are to satisfy their perennial commitments. Textual and editorial scholarship, usually marginalized as a narrowly technical area, can be made a concern of humanists' attention.

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When materials are migrated through entities like university presses— here JSTOR is the outstanding example—the results are much more satisfying because the presses have always operated in close collaboration with educational institutions. Most impressive of all is the free culture approach that is the foundation of the Library of Congress. Research libraries—the University of California, the University of Michigan, Stanford University, and the University of Virginia are notable examples—are also committing themselves to the migration of the paper archive to digital form.

Weinberger is addressing the difference between the traditional library and the internet. ” When I imagine a philologist parsing that sentence, this is what I think: —as to “understand[ing] what of the old is worth holding on to,” the sobering truth is that we cannot understand, and further, that we will always be too late recognizing our failure to understand. On this matter many examples could be cited, though one may suffice, being so notorious: the burning of Byron’s Memoirs. A group of men, most of them friends of the recently deceased poet, several among his oldest and most devoted friends, assembled in the late spring of 1824 to decide what to do with the Memoirs Byron left in trust with his close friend Thomas Moore.

To imagine otherwise is to lose sight of the importance of the past in the present. Like our genetic code, the past is an inheritance pervading the present, but always as a history that can’t be known because it can’t be experienced, though it can be studied, translated, and—as we say these says—repurposed. But always as it is inorganic inheritance. The institutions of a science thus appear a kind of felix culpa, the gift they return, sometimes consciously, more often blindly, to the infatuated Faustian world they ordinarily serve.

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A new republic of letters : memory and scholarship in the age of digital reproduction by Jerome McGann


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