Putting the Text back into Context: A Codicological Approach to Manuscript Transcription

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Textual scholars have tended to produce editions which present the text without its manuscript context. Even though digital editions now often present single-witness editions with facsimiles of the manuscripts, nevertheless the text itself is still tran- scribed and represented as a linguistic object rather than a physical one. Indeed, this is explicitly stated as the theoretical basis for the de facto standard of markup for dig- ital texts: the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). These explicitly treat texts as semantic units such as paragraphs, sentences, verses and so on, rather than physical elements such as pages, openings, or surfaces, and some scholars have ar- gued that this is the only viable model for representing texts. In contrast, this article presents arguments for considering the document as a physical object in the markup of texts. The theoretical arguments of what constitutes a text are firs treviewed,with emphasis on those used by the TEI and other theoreticians of digital markup. A series of reasons is then given why a document-centric approach may be desirable, with both modern and medieval examples. Finally an alternative is discussed, namely the results of the Genetic Edition Working Group in the Manuscript Special Interest Group of the TEI: this includes a proposed standard for documentary markup, whereby aspects of codicology and mise en page can be included in digital editions, putting the text back into its manuscript context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKodikologie und Paläographie im digitalen Zeitalter 2 – Codicology and Palaeography in the Digital Age 2
EditorsFranz Fischer, Christiane Fritze, Georg Vogeler
Place of PublicationNorderstedt
PublisherBooks on Demand
Pages397 - 430
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)9783842350328
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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