The NEW Bibliography and Literary Research course

This course has been completely revamped in order to bring it up to date and to incorporate the electronic dimension of both bibliography and literary research. The course traditionally involves some analytical bibliography (the sy stematic description and history of books--their authorship, printing, publication, editions, etc.), as well as a bit of codicology (archaeology of the book), and some basic techniques of literary research.

The new Bibliography and Literary Research will revolve around three questions:

What is a book?
What is a text?
What is a publication?
As always, it will be necessary to know something about the past in order to understand the present and future, so we will begin with a short history of the book, including a trip to a publisher who still sets type the old-fashioned way and prints the pag es of his books on a nineteenth-century printing press.

More modern publishers use the computer and modern machinery to produce the hardbacks and paperbacks we all use, and a trip to a modern publishing house will augment the book-learning with visual experience.

The future? The World Wide Web, of course. We will read and discuss on-line articles and book reviews, access electronic texts (of Moby Dick or Paradise Lost, an Emily Dickenson poem or an Alice Walker story) and discuss their accurac y and value, and float through hypertexts, looking for some solid ground on which to land in order to understand and be able to evaluate their many-layered structures. We will try to define the words "text" and "edition" as applied to an electronic docum ent, discuss the self-destruction of books made of wood pulp and the predicted demise of the book as we know it, wrestle with the questions surrounding the documenting of a piece of information "taken" from hyperspace and the implications of the intensive borrowing that goes on from one document to another on the internet.

What will we do, besides read and discuss? Well, in order to understand the Web, we'll become part of it. As students you will create your own web page as a class, searching out the best links in the world to enhance and enrich the basic mater ial you put together. Along the way, copyright and censorship issues are bound to rear their ugly heads, and we will slay those dragons as they arise.

No one will assume that you know anything about computers. Detailed and personal instructions will be provided every step of the way. When you are finished, you will be able to add to your resumé: "comfortable with e-mail, fam iliar with the Web, capable of creating a web page--and I know my way around the library, too."

20.493: Bibliography and Literary Research

Course Description

Bibliography (bibli'ogrefi) from Greek bibliographia "book-writing"

	1.  The writing of books.

	2.  The systematic description and history of books, their authorship, printing, publication, editions, etc.

			The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1991)

Required materials:

Your final grade will be made up of:

Home Page Projects

Questions for class discussion:

What is literary research?
Who does it?
How does it differ from literary history?
			literary criticism?
			literary theory?
Why do it?
How do you go about it?
	What are you looking for?
	What constitutes evidence
	How do you evaluate it?
What are the tools/resources of literary research?

What is an edition?
	1.  text
	2.  apparatus
		  textual notes (variants/emendations)

More discussion questions--way too many to deal with in one class.  
Maybe you have some ideas about how to streamline our discussion 
(it can, of course, spill over into the final week of classes).

The electronic book

	Are books (codices) on the verge of disappearing?
	Is publishing as we know it on the verge of disappearing?
		How will it survive?
	Does the codex have advantages over the "electronic book"?
		1.  the codex containing a modern work
		2.  the codex containing an older work

	In what ways does the "electronic book" work together
		with the codex? 

(We should consider information, aesthetics, ease of use, transcience 
of the medium/information, and accessibility in relation to all these 

Electronic resources A thousand issues: we now have new kinds of resources (academic discussion group messages), new access to resources (Japanese scholars working on nineteenth-century novels), new ways of finding (or not finding) those resources. What issues seem important to you? What will happen to libraries in the age of "libraries without walls"? What about the issue of preservation? What can electronic resources do for us that paper resources cannot? What about the disadvantages?? What about literacy issues? Preservation Apart from acid paper, what are some of the preservation problems we face? What forces work for and against preservation? What about obsolescent technologies? Are libraries bastions of knowledge dedicated to preservation or providers of knowledge dedicated to dissemination? Electronic citation Why is electronic citation important? (For what reasons do we cite things?) What are the problems in citing electronic sources? Is this just a problem of agreeing on form? (How do we choose between alternative formats being proposed?) Can the whole internet agree on anything? or are we talking only of academic folk and their conventions? What about citing from discussion groups/e-mail? (Remember, I could put out a message that looks like it came from Willie or Chris.)


Primary texts: "The Word and the Web," by Edward Mendelson "Reading, Scholarship and Hypertext Editions," by John Lavagnino Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics, Michael Joyce "The complete Writings. . .of D. G. Rosetti," Jerome McGann

What is hypertext? What is it good for? What is it not good for? Using the web as an electronic typewriter vs. "translating" or "re-envisioning" information and informational relations. Does hypertext mirror any other kind of human experience? Hypertext editions: for reading? for study? Consider Lavagnino's organization of hypertext theory into Selection Comparison Construction Integration

Final Examination

I. Identifications (10%)

Be brief. You may do them in any order, so number your answers. You may need to give 3 or 4 pieces of information in some cases. Need not be written in full sentences. Explain, define, or identify five.

Who/What is:

II. Short essays (20%)

Answer four. A short paragraph for each will do. Number your answers but do not repeat the questions. You may do them in any order. Be concise; you will not get credit for irrelevant information.

1. How is a true watermark made and where would you expect to find it on a sheet of paper?

2. What does this statement mean: "textual meaning is constructed by a social contract"? or to put the same question (or at least a similar one) in another way, what does it mean that a text (book, etc.) is a "cultural artifact"? (Respond to one or the other.)

3. What are "bibliographical codes" and why does Jerome McGann claim that meaning lies in them?

4. What does Gabler's edition of Joyce's Ulysses have in common with a hypertext? In what way is it not hypertextual?

5. Why is an understanding of all the circumstances of the production of a text as important for a modern text as for an older text?

6. Why would an edition that was produced after the death of the author (and did not incorporate any newly-found material from that author), yet had been superceded by a more recent edition, be of interest to anyone?

III. Essays (70%)

Answer EITHER A or B. Bear in mind that you will have nearly an hour an a half for this part of the exam. If you are smart, you will force yourself to read (and look) very carefully at the material and plan your answer(s) carefully. I will exp ect substantial answers, written in your best English prose. Plan to go back and revise, append, correct, or do whatever it takes to make your answer as good as you can make it. Trust yourself. You have learned a good deal, and the questions give you p lenty of scope to show what you have learned.

A. ONE QUESTION (for 70%)

You have been asked to write three short sections for a forthcoming History of the Book, to be published by Oxford University Press, one on the Renaissance, one on the nineteenth century, and one on the late twentieth century. Because of the restrictions of copyright, the publisher has told you that your illustrations will be limited to three texts, samples of which are hereby appended.

The first is from Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff (a denunciation of the folly of this world), translated from the original German into English by Alexander Barclay and published in London in 1509 under the title The Shyp of Folys (The Sh ip of Fools). I have provided you with the section on Venus (three consecutive leaves), and the final leaf (with a transcription of the final stanza of the work). The words and phrases in the margins are references to other works of literature.

The second is from the Kelmscott Chaucer and consists of the first two openings.

The third, from the The University of California / Sotheby Book of California Wine, includes the title page, the first leaf and following page of the preface, the first leaf of the text proper, and the last three pages of the book.

(Note that the words "A Preface" are printed in light brown ink and the ribbons at the foot of the page in purple and blue; the capital I on the verso is in blue, and the sun is in brown, brick red, and blue). The I [for section I] of the first chapter i s gold; the ribbons below it, brick red and blue. You may or may not want to comment on these details.)

You want to comment on the typography, layout, decoration, and any other features of the book, as well as to contextualize them by providing any historical information at your disposal. (No, I do not expect you to know anything specifically about the fir st or third ones. I expect that you will have the most to say about the first, but suit yourself.) Remember to use as much of the terminology and apply as many of the facts you have learned as possible.

B. TWO QUESTIONS (35% each)

1. Explain the chief grounds for the revolt against the Greg-Bowers theory of copy-text. Be as specific as possible. Why is this theory mistakenly called "idealistic" by some critics? (Note: This is a very large and open-ended question.)

2. "Of making many books there is no end" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Apply this well known biblical statement to the making of editions. Consider the matter both synchronically and diachronically, that is, within a single period (generation, decade, etc.) a nd through time.

3. Discuss as many of the problems involved in the preservation of books and information as you have time for, as well as the efficacy of the solutions developed to date. (Feel free to make suggestions of your own, if you wish.) Do not include the issue of the embrittlement of acid paper.

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Rev 1/97