By Jerome McGann
A manifesto for the arts within the electronic age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the background of texts, including the equipment in which they're preserved and made to be had for interpretation, are the overriding matters of humanist research within the twenty-first century. concept and philosophy, that have grounded the arts for many years, now not suffice as an highbrow framework. Jerome McGann proposes we glance in its place to philology--a self-discipline which has been out of style for lots of many years yet which versions the troubles of electronic humanities with outstanding fidelity.
For centuries, books were find out how to safeguard and transmit wisdom. yet as libraries and museums digitize their information and readers abandon paperbacks for capsule pcs, electronic media are exchanging books because the repository of cultural reminiscence. whereas either the venture of the arts and its conventional modes of scholarship and important learn are an identical, the electronic surroundings is riding disciplines to paintings with new instruments that require significant, and infrequently very tough, institutional adjustments. Now greater than ever, students have to get well the idea and approach to philological research if the arts are to fulfill their perennial commitments. Textual and editorial scholarship, usually marginalized as a narrowly technical area, may be made a concern of humanists' attention.
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Extra info for A new republic of letters : memory and scholarship in the age of digital reproduction
A new field of research for the language of science” (61) “[to promote] new norms . . new rules” (61) 36 from history to method “[to] model . . ” (64) “[which] properly conceived is to “generate ideas, in other words, new statements” (65) “[for pursuing] the invention of new rules of the game” (80) Those passages recall nothing so much as Fish’s recent remarks in the Times on the 2012 meetings of the MLA. Commenting ironically on “the topics that in previous years dominated the meeting and identified the avant-garde” of the profession, he scanned the program for what “those in the know” now see as the “cutting edge” of disciplinary work.
Alas, the latter process regularly happens “behind the backs,” as Marx was wont to say, of seriously interested parties. Of this we were recently reminded by the Google Settlement discussions, which took place behind the backs of the educational community. —and then as to “the limitations of the new technology [that will] trap and tempt us” into error, the volatile state of our new technology has multiplied those dangers. ” With that past as prologue, let’s look more closely at Weinberger’s useful take on the character of the Internet.
Implicit in these vocational obligations are a set of basic ideas about the meanings of our cultural records and about how to investigate them. The twentieth century’s retreat from philology involved a specialized view of the interpretation of texts. Instead of taking a broadly based sociohistorical orientation, scholars and literary critics worked out various ways for treating social and historical factors as interpretive constants rather than complex variables. The model for the act of interpretation was an individual reader engaged with a particular “text,” with the “text” being understood not as a document with complex histories, but as a linguistic construct per se.