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Text and Genre in Reconstruction

Text and Genre in Reconstruction: Effects of Digitalization on Ideas, Behaviours, Products and Institutions

Edited by Willard McCarty
Volume: 1
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Open Book Publishers
Pages: 253
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  • Book Info
    Text and Genre in Reconstruction
    Book Description:

    In this broad-reaching, multi-disciplinary collection, leading scholars investigate how the digital medium has altered the way we read and write text. In doing so, it challenges the very notion of scholarship as it has traditionally been imagined. Incorporating scientific, socio-historical, materialist and theoretical approaches, this rich body of work explores topics ranging from how computers have affected our relationship to language, whether the book has become an obsolete object, the nature of online journalism, and the psychology of authorship. The essays offer a significant contribution to the growing debate on how digitization is shaping our collective identity, for better or worse. Text and Genre in Reconstruction will appeal to scholars in both the humanities and sciences and provides essential reading for anyone interested in the changing relationship between reader and text in the digital age.

    eISBN: 978-1-906924-26-3
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Willard McCarty

    In his Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, the great neurophysiologist Warren McCulloch relates a story from his youth. When in 1917 he entered Haverford College, a Quaker institution in the United States, Rufus Jones called him in and asked him about his intentions:

    ‘Warren,’ said he, ‘what is Thee going to be?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘And what is Thee going to do?’ And again I said, ‘I have no idea; but there is one question I would like to answer. What is a number, that a man may know it, and a man, that he may know a...

  2. 1. Never Say Always Again: Reflections on the Numbers Game
    (pp. 13-36)
    John Burrows

    In order to ‘place’ my argument, I declare myself, first and last, a student of English literature. I took up computing because it seemed likely to answer some of my questions. Perhaps it has, but only by opening up a thousand more. My object in this paper is to look back at the quarter-century I have spent in computational stylistics and to consider what such work entails. I must speak, accordingly, with some generality: yet I am neither a theorist nor a philosopher. Our heuristic procedures have much in common with those of experimental science: yet I am no scientist...

  3. 2. Cybertextuality by the Numbers
    (pp. 37-70)
    Ian Lancashire

    When we think in words, the thoughts come in grammatical form with subject, verb, object and modifying clauses falling into place without our having the slightest perception of how the sentence structure is produced (Lashley 1958).

    I suppose that all of us have a primitive prompter or commentator within, who from our earliest years has been advising us, telling us what the real world is. There is such a commentator in me. I have to prepare the ground for him. From this source come words, phrases, syllables; some times only sounds, which I try to interpret, sometimes whole paragraphs, fully...

  4. 3. Textual Pathology
    (pp. 71-92)
    Peter Garrard

    In very broad terms, the theme of this chapter is disruption of brain function and its effects on higher order linguistic structure. More specifically, I will outline the changes caused by a particular species of neurodegenerative pathology — Alzheimer’s disease — on the physical apparatus of the brain, the impact of these changes on the brain’s ability to execute the cognitive tasks involved in the production and comprehension of language, and the extent to which this functional disturbance is evident in the products of a particular form of linguistic output, namely the production of a literary text. If literary aesthetics is the...

  5. 4. The Human Presence in Digital Artefacts
    (pp. 93-118)
    Alan Galey

    This essay considers the tensions between the surface orderliness of scholarly resources and the stubborn irregularity of textual materials. Textual scholarship stands to contribute two key ideas to the digital humanities: first, that there is more to electronic forms than what reaches the screen; and second, that the relationship of form to content is complex and sometimes beyond exhaustive modelling. These two points may seem commonsensical enough within a book-history context, but much of the hypertext theory that dominated the previous decade gives little impression they could matter. Part of the burden of digital textual studies must be to counter...

  6. 5. Defining Electronic Editions: A Historical and Functional Perspective
    (pp. 119-144)
    Edward Vanhoutte

    Since Peter Robinson published the first electronic edition in a series designed to accommodate all of Chaucer’sCanterbury Tales, he has been theorizing and writing about the nature and definition of electronic editions. Along with Jerome McGann and others, he has been at the centre of the debate on electronic textual editing since he began work on the collation and textual criticism of Icelandic manuscripts, for which he developed programs collectively calledCollate. Because of his accessible papers on the subject of electronic textual editing, his software for automatic collation and his models realized in commercially available editions, Robinson has...

  7. 6. Electronic Editions for Everyone
    (pp. 145-164)
    Peter Robinson

    In January 2004, I gave a lecture on electronic scholarly editing at the University of Virginia.¹ At the beginning of the lecture I asked the audience, of around 60 people, three questions. The first question was: who among them had bought a movie on DVD in the last year; who had bought a piece of music on CD-ROM or by download in the last year; who had taken digital photographs? Almost everyone in the audience had done all three. The second question: who in the last year had bought an electronic book? Only three people — around 5% of those present...

  8. 7. How Literary Works Exist: Implied, Represented, and Interpreted
    (pp. 165-182)
    Peter Shillingsburg

    This essay is a companion to another titled, ‘How Literary Works Exist: Convenient Scholarly Editions’ (Shillingsburg 2009), which together examine the nature of the ‘things’ that textual scholarship tries to identify and analyse, in order to see how best to represent them in electronic scholarly editions and archives. The other essay focuses primarily on electronic problems and solutions for edition and archive representation. This essay prepares the ground for the other by examining the nature of textual existence and representation.

    The description of the seminar series in which this essay began states that the presentations were ‘meant to engage all...

  9. 8. Text as Algorithm and as Process
    (pp. 183-202)
    Paul Eggert

    Elsewhere in this volume Peter Robinson relates an anecdote from a lecture he gave in 2004 in which he surveyed his audience to discover how many of them had in the previous 12 months acquired an electronic book as opposed to other common digital products. Nearly everyone had done the latter, but only five percent the former. Everyone had bought a printed book. The expectations of the early 1990s about electronic texts and how they would change our reading habits had not materialised by 2004. E-books will succeed, Robinson concludes, only when they have a compelling advantage over their printed...

  10. 9. ‘I Read the News Today, Oh Boy!’: Newspaper Publishing in the Online World
    (pp. 203-218)
    Marilyn Deegan and Kathryn Sutherland

    The desire to receive and impart news is part of our social fabric: we all want to know ‘what’s new?’ or ‘what’s up?’ with our friends, families, or neighbours; as well as what is happening on a local, national, or international scale. As Mitchell Stephens (1990) observes, ‘the frenzied, obsessive exchange of news is one of the oldest human activities’. News is also information with a time stamp: if it is not new, it is not news but something else. The oldest form of news is oral: word of mouth, which, before the advent of electronic media, could be conveyed...