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Preliminary Reading List

G-55. Scholarly Editing: Principles & Practice

David Vander Meulen


The best way to prepare for the course will be to read a series of six essays by G. Thomas Tanselle that are collected in his book Textual Criticism since Greg: A Chronicle, 1950-2000 (Charlottesville: Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2005).  Tanselle here provides a clear and perceptive summary of the major contributions to textual scholarship in the half century following W. W. Greg’s groundbreaking article “A Rationale of Copy-Text” in 1949.  In doing so he also identifies the central questions that scholarly editors must address.

The book can be obtained most easily through its distributor, Oak Knoll Books.  Copies will also be available at RBS during the class week.  Note that the book is different from an earlier one (published in 1987) bearing a similar title but containing only the first three articles.  All six essays originally appeared in Studies in Bibliography and can be read in the printed volumes or online through JSTOR or the free website of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia.  They were published in the following volumes: 1975 (28: 167-229); 1981 (34:23-65), 1986 (39: 1-46), 1991 (44: 83-143), 1996 (49:1-60), and 2001 (54: 1-80).

The course will follow the stages of the editorial process reflected in Part 1 (pp. 12-22) of Tanselle’s syllabus Introduction to Scholarly Editing (18th revision; Charlottesville: Book Arts Press, 2002).  James Harner calls this syllabus, along with its companion one on bibliography, “The fullest lists of publications on bibliography and textual criticism” (Literary Research Guide, 6th ed.; New York: MLA, 2010), and students in the class will want to come to know it well.  RBS makes it available without charge online (http://www.rarebookschool.org/tanselle/) and also sells printed copies (http://www.rarebookschool.org/publications/).

Part 1 of the Tanselle editing syllabus is entitled “Selected Introductory Readings on the Basic Steps in Preparing an Edition” and begins with even more fundamental subsections, “Introduction to Scholarly Editing” and “Basic Distinctions and Principles.”  The essays listed here provide an orientation to the course, and students are encouraged to read as widely as possible in them in advance.  Part 1 overall serves as an exit reading list for those who wish to explore further the ideas encountered in the short RBS week.