Theory and Practice of Editing (seminar)

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This was a spring 1998 semester seminar led by Barbara A. Mowat, Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly and Director of Academic Programs at the Folger Library. Faculty included Jerome J. McGann, author of A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (1983); W. Speed Hill, General Editor of the Folger Library edition of The Works of Richard Hooker (1977–1993); Elizabeth Hageman, The Brown University Women Writers Project; Paul Werstine, General Editor of A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare; and Randall McLeod, author of numerous essays in such journals as Studies in English Literature, Shakespeare Quarterly, and TEXT.

Editors of early modern texts find themselves today in a world that exhibits little certainty and multiple challenges. The "new bibliography" has come under increasing attack from proponents of social theories of editing as well as from postmodern doubters of the primacy of authorial intention and of the very existence of a "work" behind the "text." At the same time, the field of documents to be edited has expanded; electronic publication confronts the editor with the demand for a range of new skills; and the editor is increasingly pulled between the conflicting demands of, on the one hand, fidelity to the early modern document, and, on the other, making the edition of that document accessible to a modern reader. With the help of an expert visiting faculty, this seminar examined the theory and the practice of editing early modern manuscript and printed materials, drawing on the Library's wealth of documentary resources.

Theory and Practice of Editing