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 tools wherein they're preserved and made on hand for interpretation, are the overriding matters of humanist learn within the twenty-first century. thought 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 plenty of many years yet which versions the troubles of electronic humanities with remarkable fidelity.
For centuries, books were tips on how to look after and transmit wisdom. yet as libraries and museums digitize their information and readers abandon paperbacks for capsule desktops, 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 research are an analogous, the electronic atmosphere is using disciplines to paintings with new instruments that require significant, and sometimes very tricky, institutional adjustments. Now greater than ever, students have to get well the speculation and approach to philological research if the arts are to fulfill their perennial commitments. Textual and editorial scholarship, frequently marginalized as a narrowly technical area, might be made a concern of humanists' attention.
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Extra resources for A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction
Mays’s recent edition of Coleridge’s poetical works. This edition deserves the closest kind of study and I will return to it in Chapter 6. Let me here focus on certain key formal properties that it shares with scholarly editions in general. The object of such works is to supply readers with a more or less comprehensive view of the current state of what we know about the works to be edited. Mays’s critical and synoptic edition of Coleridge aspires to give a comprehensive view of the production and reception histories of all Coleridge’s poetical works.
But that it is “historically important” is itself important, certainly for the humanist, as our daily newspapers daily remind us. ” Even as dead a discipline as astrology will always be as vital and important now as the dead or extinct languages we humanists cherish and sometimes even pursue as research fields. Right there, in those most ephemeral of documents, I see the essential disciplinary obligation of the humanist scholar. ” When Lyotard argued that “postmodern science “is producing not the known, but the unknown,” he was explicitly setting his face against Boeckh’s famous definition of philology, which Lyotard, like Nietzsche, read in narrowly positivist terms, as I never have.
See on this matter the preamble to the Projet d’un institut polytechnique de philosophie (typescript, Département de philosophie, Université de Paris VIII [Vincennes], 1979). Lyotard carried this note over to the published book. The full significance of all that would not begin to come clear until later. The dedicatee of Lyotard’s book, that Institut Polytechnique de Philosophie of the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes), was not in fact about to supplant what Lyotard regarded as the outmoded research pro- “the inorganic or ga ni zation of memory” 35 grams of the traditional university.
A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction by Jerome McGann