Der Artikel erforscht einige der Umbrüche, die den aktuellen Wandel bei internationalen Editionsprojekten von der Nichtdigitalität hin zu einer digitalen Umgebung kennzeichnen. Ein kollaboratives Arbeiten im Mittelpunkt der Editionsarbeit anzusetzen, geht von dem Grundsatz aus, dass Lesen den kleinsten kollaborativen Aufwand darstellt, der an der Basis des „one-language/one-literature“-Modells liege, wie beispielsweise das „national philology paradigm“. Ein derartiges Denkmuster erwies sich für die internationale Kooperation auf verschiedene Art und Weise als attraktiv (Archive, Zeitschriften, Verlage usw.), doch warb es auch für die Idee eines abstrakteren transnationalen Ziels (so zum Beispiel Lachmanns Ideal einer von Interpretation befreiten Rezension oder Gaston Paris‘ utopisches cité des sciences.) Diese Ziele begünstigten eine fortschreitende Etablierung digitaler Paradigmen, die wiederum einen Richtungswechsel ermöglichten, der von einer in situ-Analyse wegführt und auf die Ausstellung von allgemeinen Textstrukturen abzielt. Vor dem Hintergrund dieser neuen Ausrichtung wurde die internationale Zusammenarbeit intensiviert; trotzdem wird argumentiert, dass das neue Medium nicht an die Stelle des alten Mediums tritt, sondern vielmehr mit ihm interagiere. Zum Schluss wird der Artikel den Fokus auf bestimmte Herausforderungen legen, die mit Initiativen zur digitalen Edition einhergehen und hauptsächlich aus politischen Unwägbarkeiten und Nachhaltigkeitsfragen bestehen.
The article explores some of the continuities and discontinuities that mark the ongoing change in international editorial ventures from a nondigital to a digital framework. Placing collaboration at the centre of the editorial work, it is assumed that reading is the minimal act of collaboration which lies at the basis of the one-language/one-literature model, i.e., the national philology paradigm. Such a paradigm appealed to international cooperation in a number of ways (archives, journals, publishing houses, etc.), but it also came to promote the idea of trans-national abstract goals (e.g., in Lachmann’s ideal of recension without interpretation or in Gaston Paris’s utopian cité des sciences). These goals favoured the progressive establishment of the digital paradigm, which in turn encouraged (or facilitated) a change of direction, from the study of in situ textual specificities to taxonomies aiming at a representation of the general structure of texts. Against the backdrop of the new paradigm, international collaboration has been intensified, but, it is argued, the new medium does not take the place of the old medium, rather interacts with it. In the end, the article touches upon some of the challenges faced by digital initiatives, namely regarding sustainability and political issues.
The title of this essay indicates that a transformation in academic cooperation in the field of textual scholarship has been occurring as a consequence of the ways we explore the digital medium. It is always difficult to speak detachedly about a phenomenon that is ongoing, fluid, multi-faceted and complex in its several aspects. Transformation, especially in the guise of metamorphosis, suggests that the changes in academic cooperation have more to do with an alteration in nature than with an alteration in degree. By adopting a historical point of view, I would like to argue that, while some of the most visible changes are gradual, it remains to be seen whether a few very important ones will not indeed become differences in nature.
At the basis of networking lies cooperation. Since textual scholarship deals mostly with written documents, it could be argued that the minimal scholarly act and the backbone of editing activities is reading. Against essentialist views of such an act, understanding reading as an instance of collaboration may be seen as a mode of academic cooperation. Notwithstanding differences in their approaches, Wolfgang Iser, Stanley Fish and Jerome McGann, among others, have contributed to the general acceptance of this viewpoint.
Iser claims that the transference of text to reader, rather than being put into practice singly by the textual entity, occurs only if the »reader’s faculties of perceiving and processing« are activated. It is because the text does not fully control this process that there is a »creative side« to reading. Another name for this creative side is, of course, cooperation. When more than one scholar engages with a text or a set of texts in complementary and/or competitive manner, and regardless of how many people are involved in such activity, an interpretive community emerges. Roughly at the same time, Stanley Fish argued that text is not a »self-sufficient repository of meaning« because meaning is produced in a »dynamic relation with the reader’s expectations, projections, conclusions, judgments and assumptions«. It is neither located in the text, nor is the reader’s job to extract it from the text. As a consequence, the identification of formal units in interpretation is not due to their presence in the text, but »are a function of the interpretive model one brings to bear«. The standpoint Iser and Fish adopt reappear in general terms in the field of textual scholarship, for instance in Jerome McGann’s The Textual Condition, namely in the chapter »How to read a book«. McGann’s own viewpoint is clearly constructivist and, in opposition to the once popular perception of textual scholarship as an activity that guaranteed the stability of texts and the taming of meaning, the recent past and the present in this field of knowledge keep insisting on the acknowledgement of the importance of interpretive communities in the construction of meaning.
For a considerable period of time an identification marker of the object of attention of these interpretive communities in the Western civilization has been the one-language/one-literature model, first centred on classical antiquity and subsequently broadened to include modern vernacular cultures. Around 1800 the pervading concept of national classicity in different European countries contributed decisively to this broadening, thereby playing a significant role in the process of nation building. Such a concept was instrumentally assisted by the work of the discipline lying at the basis of literary, linguistic and later cultural studies: philology. The blurred ( »blurred«, i. e., from our standpoint, which is contemporary to the autonomous fields of knowledge that stemmed from philology) frontiers of the research objects these communities worked on have contributed to their expansion, but have also given rise to the appearance of alternative models to the Lang-Lit perspective. As Joep Leerssen points out, the Lang-Lit model presented unsolvable problems and ambiguities when one thinks of »Milton writing in Latin and English, Nabokov in Russian and English; the tradition of medieval Latin and Neo-Latin; the cases of authors from bilingual countries rooted in more than one linguistic tradition« and so forth. In any event, despite its role in the defence of nations as autonomous realia, the Lang-Lit model may well serve as an example of a framework for scholarly cooperation on an international level. After all, one of the eloquent examples of such a model is the division of general philology into major linguistic branches (Classical, Romance, German, etc.) that have to do with groups of different countries, thus promoting the existence of international interpreting communities. For the sake of a brief illustration, I will concentrate on the Romance languages and literatures subset and briefly refer to the way three facets of scholarly editing activities (archival institutions and libraries, philological networks and publishing houses) show signs of international collaboration.
In our day and age, we take for granted that European libraries and archives take interest in acquiring and, most importantly, in making available bibliographic items and documents whose cultural meaning is not parochially national. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but it may suffice to illustrate this point with reference to the fact that one of the most crucial manuscripts of the Chanson de Roland, a cornerstone in the history of French literature and nation building, is kept at the Bodleian library, in Oxford. Similar situations abound in the field of mediaeval Portuguese literature: the most distinguished document witness of Arthurian literature written in Portuguese (a version of the Quest of the holy grail, ›Demanda do Santo Graal‹) is kept at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; a codex containing the text of the most important late mediaeval chronicle (Fernão Lopes’s Chronicle of King John I, ›Crónica de D. João I‹) is to be found at the Biblioteca Nacional de España; the most distinguished manuscript of a regimen principum of sorts (D. Duarte’s Leal Conselheiro) belongs to the Bibliothèque de France; one of the very few handwritten songbooks witnessing the Galician-Portuguese troubadour poetry is preserved at the Biblioteca Vaticana. This means that right at the beginning of the editing process the framework of the access to primary sources of major texts according to the Lang-Lit model is frequently international.
In yet another respect, the history of the codex I have just mentioned showcases forms of cooperation against the backdrop of scholarly international networks. In the context of Romance philology and the raiding for manuscripts of unknown whereabouts, the Austrian philologist Ferdinand Wolff thought that the most effective way to search for a songbook of Portuguese mediaeval poems whose copy had been ordered by the Italian humanist Angelo Colocci was to look for traces of it at the Vatican library. The person Wolff asked to undertake this task was the Slovene slavist Jernej Bartholomäus Kopitar, who proceeded accordingly, but without success. Later on he asked the Portuguese Franciscan priest J. I. Roquette to resume this assignment and Roquette was able to locate it: the Vatican codex 4803 transmits more than one thousand medieval poems, being a priceless document of troubadour poetry in the Iberian Peninsula between the beginning of the 12 century and mid-14 century.
These were the times when German philologists animated the development of editorial initiatives in other countries, both in Europe and beyond. Although he spoke of Émile Raynouard as »Gründer der romanischen Philologie«, it is Friedrich Diez who is more consensually viewed as the founder of Romance philology and in analogy to the mandatory trip to Italy for anyone wishing to become a professional in the fine arts, the would-be philologist was expected to travel to Germany. Gaston Paris and later on Joseph Bédier made such journeys. And, more regularly than not, German philologists moved to other countries.
One of the first landmarks in the description of romance languages and literatures was the Grundriss der romanischen Philologie, organized by Gustav Gröber. The history of Portuguese literature, attributed to the German philologist Carolina Michaëlis de Vasconcelos and to the Portuguese polymath writer Teófilo Braga, was included in the volume II, part I, issued in 1897. As a matter of fact, this history of Portuguese literature was originally supposed to be designed and written only by Braga and translated into German by Carolina Michaëlis. In the end, though, the first and longer part of the history was eventually written by Michaëlis based on Braga’s text, and only the second much shorter part is ascribed to the Portuguese intellectual. Because Braga was not comfortable with the credits of the first part, Carolina Michaëlis wrote him a letter in order to explain the way she viewed the borders of intellectual property within this collaborative initiative. A passage in this letter discloses what Germany could mean in certain quarters: »You, Sir, had put your article entirely at my disposal. You have even asked me to translate it freely, germanising it somewhat, that is, adding dates and bibliographic notes (which it much needed), making it more precise, developing it and even modifying what seemingly called for correction, etc. etc. (…) It is the fault of your courtesy if I have come to see myself as your collaborator, rather than your translator.«
Apart from the role German scholarship played in romance philology during the 19 century and onwards, hinted at in this letter, the interpretive communities working in editing medieval Portuguese literature have a distinctly international scope: alongside Carolina Michaëlis, the reference tool for this study field contains entries for scholars such as the British William J. Entwistle, the Italian Ernesto Monaci, the Swiss-American Henry R. Lang, the German Oskar Nobiling or the Brazilian Francisco A. Varnhagen. The international scope in other interpretive communities within other subsets of global philology is similar to the one described so far.
Such national diversity was also supported by scholarly journals, such as Rivista di Filologia Romanza, Romania, Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie, which accepted articles in different languages. Likewise, some publishing houses, namely Max Niemeyer, also published philological works in various European languages.
Unsurprisingly, and taking into account its strong international embedding, Gaston Paris aimed to place romance philology within a system of fields of knowledge he called the »cité des sciences«, the city of sciences. This would be a more or less Utopian space with no geopolitical borders, inhabited by scholars fully oriented, as Ursula Bähler puts it, to pursue truth, as an un-national value. This utopian impulse underpinning such a city of sciences, a close relative of the republic of letters, echoed intensely at the opening session of the 1928 international congress of mathematicians, held in Bologna. It was then that David Hilbert allegedly produced a statement of considerable political and scholarly import: »It makes me very happy that after a long, hard time all the mathematicians of the world are represented here […]. It is a complete misunderstanding of our science to construct differences according to peoples and races, and the reasons for which this has been done are very shabby ones. […] For mathematics, the whole cultural world is a single country«. Even if some doubts remain as to Hilbert’s exact words, it seems useful to take this quotation into account when reflecting upon the dream-like pursuit of a common ground (in methodological, terminological and theoretical terms) within the field of scholarly editing.
A sign of such a desideratum may perhaps be found in the supposedly Lachmannian ideal of establishing a text as the result of a stemmatological enquiry conducted without having recourse to personal judgement: »recensere sine interpretatione possumus et debemus« (even if Timpanaro is right in suggesting that this was nothing more than empty boasting on the part of Lachmann). At a time when historical linguistics was addressing the problem of hierarchically determining how dead and living languages were connected, these Lachmannian hierarchical approaches on the transmission of texts influenced the editors’ perception of the familial relationships between ancient and medieval document witnesses. Another sign of the desideratum might be found in an extraordinary statement by the scholar who created copytext editing, W. W. Greg, who, in the article »Bibliography: An apologia«, declared that it would be interesting to edit a text with no meaning (i. e., lacking intelligibility in the eyes of the editor), this being the result of the following premise: »[…] the study of textual transmission involves no knowledge of the sense of a document but only of its form; the document may theoretically be devoid of meaning or the critic ignorant of its language.« Editorial scholarship would thus triumph in a highly formalized and shared way over textual dimensions one could, after all, do without: language and meaning.
In the early days of the professionalization (and standardization) of editorial scholarship, Housman would voice a strong individualistic claim against the idea of common ground: it was not possible to ›become‹ a professional textual critic. Either you were born one or no deal: criticus nascitur, non fit. Unsurprisingly, Housman did not hold in high esteem those aspects of textual scholarship which would meet a strong cooperative development over the 20 century and a strong boost with digital philology: ›manuscript‹ work (through the availability of an ever growing number of digital surrogates of document witnesses), collation and the history of the transmission of texts (through the advances in computer automated collation).
In a increasingly flattened world, in which geographic borders tend to fade, the expanding number of easily accessible digital archives, programmes and tools has stimulated a modicum of standardization in order to guarantee communication and interoperability. To a certain extent, this process in the field of stated in the mid-twentieth century about World Literature: the present conception of World literature, he said, accepts as an inevitable fact that world-culture is being standardized. The World literature paradigm, with a more global scope than the Lang-Lit model, would similarly give a crucial status to communication and interoperability through the role it ascribed to translation.
Notwithstanding the immense merits of sharable goals and modus operandi in digital editorial activities, a crucial dimension of editing and translating has to do with acknowledging and representing difference. That is why, apart from isolated and high-brow positions such as Housman’s, in other quarters one finds conflicting perspectives with respect to the pair one goal-one method approach. Actually, whereas a former goal of romance philology – reconstructing, through the study of languages and literatures, the development of different national awarenesses – is no longer central, attention to site- or text-specific features seems to resist what is seen as excessive standardization. As Peter Shillingsburg has recently argued: »[…] different editorial goals are desirable under different cultural and economic and intellectual conditions and […] different goals must be met by different methods […]«. And, according to Paul Eggert: »The first rule of thumb in editing is that every editing situation is different and therefore no rule will be universally applicable.«
The tension between global aims and methods, on the one side, and local goals and procedures, on the other, have gained special visibility with the growing presence of digital editing. But before exploring some facets of this tension, it seems relevant to say that similarly to what happened with the transition from oral to written culture, there is no digital metamorphosis because the ongoing change cannot be seen as digital editorial scholarship’s take-over on pre-digital philology. Elena Pierazzo is right when, commenting on a contribution by Ariana Ciula and Tamara López, she says that the new medium »does not supersede the old one, like the wireless did not replace the concert hall and the television did not replace the cinema, but joins the old medium in an often positive and invigorating interaction.«
There is also a continuum between traditional philology and textual scholarship in the digital age, for the goal digital scholars pursue has not ceased to be »[…] to preserve, to monitor, to investigate, and to augment our cultural life and inheritance […]«, even if the available means to reach this goal have undergone enormous changes. The cooperation between humanist scholars and IT colleagues has shaped a new understanding of what C. P. Snow termed the two cultures, English has become an academic lingua franca, communication technologies have enabled an impressive time acceleration (and a somewhat mitigated historical consciousness), attention has been redirected from local textual specificities to taxonomies that aim at representing the general structure of texts. And at the bottom of all this international collaboration has been intensified.
In any event, an idea of replacement is obviously hinted at by the poster of the conference that originated this volume, in which the butterfly life cycle is reduced to two stages, the larva (caterpillar) and the adult butterfly, thus suggesting a symmetrical relationship with a pre-digital editorial stage and a digital editorial stage. Central to the development of the butterfly is the process of molting: since the skin of the caterpillars cannot expand with them, they grow another larger skin which throws out the outward skin, this process repeating itself until, after molting for the fifth time, the new skin is shaped into the outer shell of the chrysalis. In the end, inside the chrysalis or pupa, the caterpillar undergoes the transformation into an adult butterfly. In a similar way, digital editing is given the possibility of dealing with significantly larger textual storage capacity than book format editorial ventures. Because of printing and publication limitations, editors were compelled to select a single textual version for presentation and to display incomplete information in apparatuses, but the digital overcoming of these technological constraints have allowed for seemingly all-inclusive editorial goals. Storage is then a major strength among the possibilities opened up by digital philology, along with others that are related to the stages of collation, stemma extraction, analysis, annotation and edition proper, besides the results of some research in the field of automated transcription.
Sharing and making available tools and programmes in these different editorial stages and fields have been enhanced by several digital international and collaborative platforms, such as: Interedition, the European funded COST Action and aiming at promoting »[…] the interoperability of the tools and methodology […] in the field of digital scholarly editing and research […]«; Textgrid, a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research until very recently and seeking to address the needs of virtual research environment in the Humanities; the digital research infrastructure DARIAH-DE - Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities, which is also supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and administration and repository technologies; the Australian Electronic Scholarly Editing project, which intends »[…] to develop a set of interoperable services to support the production of electronic scholarly editions by distributed collaborators in a Web 2.0 environment.« Loyola University, Chicago, and the University of Saskatchewan.
It is largely through networking platforms such as the ones I mentioned before that this butterfly-like shortcoming of many digital editorial initiatives has been addressed by some scholars. The life of butterflies usually spans between a week and a month. One side of durability issues has been referred to by Pierre-Marc de Biasi. Taking into consideration only the developed countries, De Biasi wrote that since 1990 each one of us has changed at least five or six times his or her personal computer, that is, every three or four years, in order to stay technically updated. But who of us, he asks, has kept the former six computers and their hard disks? Almost no one. As a consequence almost all electronic genetic documents of the past 20 years are utterly lost. Then De Biasi concludes dramatically that there will be no archives of our modernity between 1990 and 2010 – for the first time after two centuries we have before us a black hole in our cultural memory with no precedent but in the darkest periods of our history. More, this black hole would be bound to expand [De Biasi 2012: 26]. In another standpoint, Daniel O’Donnell realized that most of the editions on CD-ROMs he examined could not be used shortly after their publication, and Elena Pierazzo states that the obsolescence of web publication is becoming highly visible: easy to put online, easy to take down, Elena Pierazzo says. Why is this so?
Peter Boot and Joris Van Zundert list what can go wrong: temporary or permanent unavailability of resources and services (service is either down or discontinued); hosting institutions that are closed down or that are affected by new objectives and priorities; upgrades to baseline services (e. g. authentication) and non-baseline services (e. g. annotation linking services), upgrades to platforms and code libraries. In order to live up to the »[…] growing technological and organizational burden[…]« associated with the preservation of digital editions, and thus to enable them to live a longer and more stable life than that of butterflies, Joris Van Zundert and Peter Boot communicated their vision of future libraries. In this vision, the library, besides being in a position to transform resources into services, would not only preserve digital editions, but also give access to their proteiform nature: »[…] it is the libraries that are able to define, manage and maintain the processes, workflows and quality controls that can assure the edition’s long term availability in the digital realm[…]«. Therefore, it is not international cooperation per se that responds to this vision, but inter-institutional collaboration, against the backdrop of a redefinition of the roles ascribed to libraries, universities and funders. Here possibly lies one difference between the frameworks of non-digital and digital editorial scholarship that may not be just a matter of degree, as the redefinition called for by Van Zundert and Boot goes beyond the sphere of accessing more information in a more rapid way.
Among the many challenges this vision faces, one finds issues as different as funding commitments to sustain online changing works beyond an horizon of twenty years or a reconfigured notion of legal deposit. The legal deposit is often said to »[…] ensure that the […] published output is collected systematically, to preserve the material for the use of future generations[…]«, as stated on the British Library Webpage (http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/legaldeposit/). If the published output is to be systematically collected, namely every single accessible version of a permanently updatable editorial venture (and I quote from a recent call for contribution on Computer-Aided Processing of Intertextuality in Ancient Languages), what is one to do with the `information overload´ of digitally available data resulting from mass digitisation?
It may be advantageous to put issues such as this in the context of regional and global policies. In the European Union funding programme Horizon2020, the humanities and human sciences were not considered at first. And, as Domenico Fiormonte points out, it was a successful petition signed by thousands of professionals working in the cultural heritage sector (museums, galleries, libraries, archives, etc.) that made the European Parliament explicitly add the label »Cultural heritage« in the funding program. This is not without import for the ongoing reconfiguration of textual editing within the larger sphere of conservation and the technological possibilities allowing editors to deal not only with textual documents but also with sound and iconic materials. In respect of »Cultural heritage«, UNESCO and other organizations have been actively promoting the preservation of world heritage sites and artefacts. Underlying the classification of these sites and artefacts, as well as the production of guidelines regarding conservation or restoration, is a political principle of global understanding at large. An excerpt from the preamble of the "Recommendation on International Principles Applicable to Archaeological Excavations" issued in New Delhi in 1956 may serve as an example of this principle. There one reads »[…]the feelings aroused by the contemplation and study of works of the past do much to foster mutual understanding between nations, and that it is therefore highly desirable to secure international co-operation with regard to them and to further, in every possible way, the fulfilment of their social mission […]«
As far as this social mission is concerned, and given the volatility of political regimes in Africa and the cultural consequences often arising from such volatility, reference should be made, even if in a restricted linguistic sense, to the action of one of the international teams working at the Institut des Textes et des Manuscrits Modernes (ITEM). The »Manuscrits francophones du sud« team, supported by the French National Funding Agency and the European programme Discovery, pursues the goal of producing a reference edition of francophone literary texts of special relevance, which are to be published in the ›Planète libre‹ series, as well as saving from oblivion and destruction francophone literary documents. The latter goal is to be reached through the creation of a digital archive in addition to a physical library to keep the manuscripts.
In our part of the world, the digital medium has facilitated the creation of new interpretive communities or strengthened already existing ones, which no longer occupy a central position in Western education system or are even endangered. The actual or potential disappearance of Greek and Latin from the secondary school curricula in several European countries has been successfully counterattacked by the acknowledgement of multi-communities across the world interested in developing Classical Studies. But still one should bear in mind that there are other worlds beyond our own.
On the now widely known night photo by John Stanmeyer, the World Press Photo winner of 2014, some African migrants are seen in the city of Djibouti raising their phones and trying to catch a signal from Somalia. In the developed countries it is taken for granted that citizenship is served by the digital medium. Because this is true, as long as the populations of different regions of the world do not have access to digital tools, we Westerners gain from being aware that ours is a position of privilege and that the word ›global‹ deserves an Orwellian comment: the digital metamorphosis is a global transformation, but much more global in some places than in others.