By Jerome McGann
A manifesto for the arts within the electronic age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the heritage of texts, including the equipment wherein they're preserved and made to be had for interpretation, are the overriding topics of humanist learn 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 style for lots of a long time yet which versions the worries of electronic humanities with brilliant fidelity.
For centuries, books were the way to protect and transmit wisdom. yet as libraries and museums digitize their documents and readers abandon paperbacks for capsule pcs, electronic media are changing books because the repository of cultural reminiscence. whereas either the challenge of the arts and its conventional modes of scholarship and important research are a similar, the electronic surroundings is using disciplines to paintings with new instruments that require significant, and sometimes very tricky, institutional adjustments. Now greater than ever, students have to recuperate the idea 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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Additional info for A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction
It will either disappear through what we might call, adapting Robert Frost, “the slow smokeless burning of decay” and neglect; or it will get—wonderful word—deaccessioned. 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.
In the horizon of Modernism, scholars turned to hermeneutics of many kinds and thence—after World War II—to the meta-interpretive interests that played themselves out, in equally diverse ways, under the general banner of Theory. ” is perceived as a technical or subdisciplinary (or even predisciplinary) question, as René Wellek’s influential mid-century handbook Theory of Literature (1949) makes very clear. Bibliographers 20 from history to method and other dryasdust scholars investigate and edit the documents in their monkish cells so that serious students of literature and culture can read and interpret what the works mean for the world of living people.
And philology has a science, an order of method, for accessing its kind of truth. 9 It is a book for the scholar and the interested citizen alike—not the least of its virtues. Another is its critical understanding that “the Internet”—the hero of the book—“by its nature contains much diversity and many, many disagreements” (46). Here I want to pursue one line of disagreement, and 42 from history to method I’ll begin with a key sentence that invites me to do so. Weinberger is addressing the difference between the traditional library and the internet.
A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction by Jerome McGann