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Editors’ Preface

Wim Van Mierlo, Wout Dillen et Elli Bleeker
p. iii-iv

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1From production to transmission, from genesis to reception, text is an infinitely complex object of study that we can approach and represent from a wide range of perspectives. Influenced by technological inventions and transnational trends, the field of textual scholarship continues to evolve: we refine or alter our methodologies and we broaden our research focus. Technological developments have become a research topic in and by themselves, as we study how digitality affects modes of presentation, or influences how we conceptualize “texts”, “documents” and “works”. At the same time, the core business of textual scholarship — to investigate text in all its manifestations — remains unchanged. The diverse nature of contemporary textual scholarship is reflected in the contents of the fourteenth issue of Variants.

2In the opening essay, Paul Eggert sets the tone by epitomising the fluidity between the concepts “archive” and “edition” brought about by digital devices. How to relate oneself to the seemingly contradicting impulses to archive or to edit is a familiar issue for textual scholars, but the growth of both digital archives and digital editions has intensified this dichotomy. To help us imagine the wide range of possibilities to (re)present textual material digitally, Eggert proposes a horizontal slider or scroll bar, with the archive and the edition at opposite ends. He concludes that the expansion of editorial activities may come to include literary criticism as well. Our writing practices become increasingly digital too: scholarly editors of contemporary materials are confronted with an overflow of digital documents that may require an entirely different definition of a version. Christopher A. Plaisance looks at Aristotelian philosophy and establishes an ontology of fundamental concepts like “work”, “text”, “document” and “version” suitable for a textual scholarship framework. The transformative effects of technology on scholarly editing are also central to the contribution by Merisa Martinez, Wout Dillen, Elli Bleeker, Anna-Maria Sichani and Aodhán Kelly. Together, they carried out a large-scale survey among the international editorial community in which participants were asked about their position on access and accessibility of digital editions. The survey results show us that for many important issues, such as Open Access and web accessibility, no agreed-on, clear-cut solutions as yet exist. Should digital editions provide access to the underlying code? How can scholars exploit the full potential of the digital medium to disseminate their findings? Although the most suitable approach to these and related questions will differ per editing team, the scholarly community will undeniably benefit from guidelines and the sharing of best practices. Building upon the methodological value of giving users insight into the workings of a software program used for text analysis, Elisa Nury examines the visualization of collation results using the tool PyCoviz. Nury aptly illustrates how to implement and refine an open source tool to examine the manuscript tradition of Calpurnicus Flaccus in greater detail. In doing so, she also demonstrates how visualization can function both as a research instrument and as a means of communication. Claudia Tardelli presents a fascinating report of the challenges that arise when editing Francesco da Buti’s commentary on Dante’s Commedia. Da Buti’s manuscript has a complex tradition that includes authorial revisions on some — but not all — documents as well as numerous contaminations. Tardelli therefore makes the case for a critical edition that is based on a single, most authoritative manuscript with an apparatus fontium. This paves the way for a proper contextualisation of Da Buti’s work and see how it relates to other Dante commentaries and additional historical sources. Peter Groves, then, identifies an increasing neglect of the metre in scholarly editions of early modern texts like Shakespeare’s plays. This subtle yet significant change in editorial policy has important consequences for the way contemporary readers experience those texts. Groves calls for action and proposes a new standard for representing metrical information in texts that would uncover and illuminate an essential feature of Shakespeare’s verse. We move from Britain’s bard to the national poet of Lithuania, Kristijan Donelaitis, whose poem Metai is the topic of Mikas Vaicekauskas’ contribution. Vaicekauskas gives an insightful overview of the various editions of the poem and beautifully illustrates how editorial strategies are shaped by sociocultural and political circumstances.

3Much along the same lines, the review essay of André Goddu offers an in-depth study of the various editions of Copernicus’s most famous work De revolutionibus orbum celestum, first published in 1543. Since then, a number of editions have appeared based on (a combination of) the first publication or the surviving autograph. Goddu thoroughly reviews the latest edition (2015) and at the same time synthesizes the extant scholarship on this historical text that forever changed the way we think about our planet and the solar system. The final section of Variants 14 comprises of seven reviews of innovative and remarkable scholarly editions, research volumes, and monographs that have appeared in recent years.

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Wim Van Mierlo, Wout Dillen et Elli Bleeker, « Editors’ Preface »Variants, 14 | -1, iii-iv.

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Wim Van Mierlo, Wout Dillen et Elli Bleeker, « Editors’ Preface »Variants [En ligne], 14 | 2019, mis en ligne le 10 juillet 2019, consulté le 20 avril 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Wim Van Mierlo

Wout Dillen

Wout Dillen holds a PhD in Literature with a focus on text encoding and digital scholarly editing from the University of Antwerp. From 2016 to 2017, Wout held a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Experienced Research Fellowship in the Digital Scholarly Editions Initial Training Network (DiXiT ITN) at the University of Borås. Since 2016 he has been the Coordinator of platformDH and the Coordinator of the University of Antwerp’s contribution to DARIAH-Flanders. Wout currently serves as the Secretary of the European Society of Textual Scholarship (ESTS), as a member of the Steering Committee of the DH Benelux. For the current issue, Wout is an Associate editor of Variants, and will be General Editor from issue 15 onwards. Besides these, he is also on the editorial boards of the Review Journal for Digital Editions and Resources (RIDE) and the upcoming DH Benelux journal.

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Elli Bleeker

Elli Bleeker is a postdoctoral researcher in the Research and Development Team at the Humanities Cluster, part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. She specializes in digital scholarly editing and computational philology, with a focus on modern manuscripts and genetic criticism. Elli completed her PhD in 2017 at the University of Antwerp on the role of the scholarly editor in the digital environment. During her Early Stage Research Fellowship in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie funded DiXiT network (2014–2017), she received advanced training in manuscript studies, text modeling, and XML technologies. She has participated in the organization and teaching of workshops on scholarly editing with a focus on knowledge transfer and the application of computational methods in a humanities environment. She is also the Associate Editor of Variants from this issue onwards.

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