English 9148

Editing Pre-Modern Texts

Professor R. Moll
Full course, Summer 2017.

NB: This course is tentatively set to run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1-4 pm, from Tuesday 2 May - Thursday 29 June. Held in the Arts & Humanities Building room 2R21.

Textual criticism is the study not of a work of literature, but of the physical remains of that work in the shape of words, usually on a page.  This course will explore the role played by the editor who examines and analyzes those remains, then ultimately establishes the form and organization of the work itself.  This process is interpretive and, as such, open to constant and critical reinterpretation.  We will explore the history of academic editing and the major trends in editing theory.  At the same time, we will hone the practical skills necessary for the textual critic by producing a digital critical edition of a previously unedited early-modern text.  In the summer of 2017, we will work on the first edition of Gerard Leigh’s Accedens of Armory (London: Richard Tottill, 1562), the most popular sixteenth-century treatise on the symbolism and use of heraldry.

Rough plan:
The course will be divided into two parts which will be carried out simultaneously.  On the one hand, we will study the history and theory of textual criticism, focusing on the editing of medieval and early modern texts.  This component of the course will be built around Erick Kelemen’s Textual Editing and Criticism: An Introduction (New York: Norton, 2009).  At the same time, students will work on a on-line, digital edition of Leigh’s Accedens of Armory.  The codex (which I own) will be digitized and students will be assigned sections of the text to edit.  Each student will be responsible for transcribing and establishing their portion of the text, as well as producing a set of textual and explanatory notes.  We will collective establish methods for emendation, citation, layout and presentation.  We will also collectively build the glossary and index. 

The Accedens of Armory is a treatise on the symbolism and meaning of heraldry, written in the form of a dialogue.  Leigh, however, loves the digression and uses heraldry as an excuse to wander into all sorts of topics, such as the nature of nobility, the employment of craftsmen, the historical significance of the King Lear story or the gossip of the Inns of Court.  The text is easily divided into workable units, and students will develop not only the skills of textual criticism necessary to work with the text itself, but also the research skills necessary to trace source material, explain historical events and interpret the many narratives that Leigh includes as illustrations.  At the end of the project we will have a digital edition which will be of use to anyone interested in the literature, visual arts, architecture and chivalric culture of the mid-sixteenth century.  All students who participate in the project will be listed as contributors on the final edition.

View the course syllabus here: English 9148. PDF download