Scholarly Editing



Beforeproviding a detailed analysis of how they are treated in scholarlyediting among different literary modes, brief definitions of thetextual variants, authorial intention, and the role of receptionaspects in literary editing are as follows.

Textualvariants- these are places and points where ancient manuscripts of aspecific biblical contexts, phrases, and texts disagree (Galey,Cuningham, Nelson, Siemens, Werstine, 2009). The critics have todecide which of the textual variants is authentic. All thesevariations are, as a result, of the many manuscripts that arediscovered about the New Testament. No classical Greek or Latin texthas nearly as many variants, because they do not have nearly as manymanuscripts. The same exists in editing plays, prose, and poems.

Authorialintention- This is the communication that the writer or speaker hadin mind when writing a particular text. Every text has certainaspects that the writer wanted the reader to understand. Normally, itcomes up when there is difficult in comprehending the textual meaningof the text. The critic, therefore, needs to find fuller explanationsfrom the author if they can find them, and information about theiractions.

Roleof reception- Different places and faiths differ in perspective aboutthe role of reception. Reception involves agreement with theproduction after editing has taken place. For instance, the Westlooks at reception as a legal term while the East looks at receptionas an integral part of the faith and life of the church. The OrthodoxChurch on the hand looks at reception as a dialectic between laityand clergy, both of whom have a critical role under the inspirationof the Holy Spirit.


Textualvariants in drama

Dramatoo has elements of textual variants that arise from the differencesbetween scripts that have the same text content of the original play.When they are noticed by the reader, they are first noted, and thecorrect reading inserted in the margin of the text. This can onlywork if the corrector has the original manuscript with them. It wouldenable them to make corrective insertions in the texts to fill theomissions that probably make the meanings of both texts to vary byinterpretation. Textual critics attempt to choose the variant thatappears to be closer to the original meaning of the author of theplay. For instance, the William Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant ofVenice,’ the two Venetian, Salerio and Solanio, are hardly onecharacter, much less two. Their names seem to be a joke thatextending to textual variants Salarino, salerino, Salino, Salari, andSaleri. Their characters were first presented in the play as onecharacter until J.D Wilson recognized them as two characters(Monroy et al. 2002).By writing on the margin, the correctors wanted to restore theconfidence of the readers about the context of the play. Textualvariants in plays are explained on the margins so that the intent ofthe original writer is not lost in the variants. While editing,scholars agree on the contextual meaning that the writers had indifferent manuscripts that could some information omitted in thecourse of recording. The scholars must, therefore, have the originaltext so that they can use it to revise the text in plays. Anotherexample that demonstrates how textual variants are treated in playsis the QuadbyBeckett. The printed text of the play was never revised in any otherlanguage. No printed version of this play bears the title of theoriginal production to date and no accurate version, including therevisions by Beckett himself, exists is print. Beckett’s ownvideotaped and produced in German remains the only final text of theplay. When analyzing this play, scholarly editors use the originalstyle of Beckett in most of his stage directions in theater topostulate the context of some scenes that have omitted lines.

Treatmentof textual variants in poetry

Tounderstand the essence and treatment of textual variants in poetry,the analysis of Emily Dickson as a poet is relevant. At her death,she left behind different poems in different states of completion:fair copies, incomplete drafts, rough drafts, all with erroneouspunctuation and capitalization. The handwriting was difficult to readneeding with manuscripts listing different alternative of words,lines, and stanzas as interpretations. Scholarly editors such asHigginson and Loomis Todd began to publish some of her poems thefirst series of 1890. They published about 449 of her poems. To getpublic acceptance of the poems, they had to correct grammar,conventionalize punctuation, and improve the rhyme in the poems,skipped stanzas, and supplied titles. In poetry editing scholars donot have the freedom to change the words of the stanzas because thismay distort the original meaning of the poem. Considering that poetrycontains certain stylistic devices that critically depend on thediction of the poem, editors are very careful while dealing withtextual variants due to the significance of diction in poems.Sometimes, editors can decide to use the versions of the originaleditor if they original manuscripts are not available duringsecondary editing. Editors use different tools when bridging the gapsleft by textual variants. This includes analyzing the major ideas ofthe poet in most of their poems. The patterns of these ideas can helpscholarly editors come up with the right lines, and stanzas that canbridge the gap. For instance, Emily Dickinson’s poems formedcomplicated and contradictory patterns in most cases. They showed agreat degree of the introspection about the world round her.Furthermore, her poems had their roots in the cultural and setting ofher time. By extensively exploring these aspect’s editors, can findparallels that exist between her work and different literary andreligious documents.

Treatmentof textual variants in prose

Authorialintention refers to the ideal representation of the author’s faircopy of the work in their text as originally produced (Shillingsburg,2006). In inducing authorial intention in any literary genre, thework of scholarly editors is to present the closest approximation ofthe author’s intention in all respects. Sometimes, when words,lines and even paragraphs are omitted in the course of translation orcopy-texting from the original manuscript the authorial intention islost. This is normally treated as an error that editors need toreconstruct the text, as accurately as possible, within the scope ofthe author’s intention in using certain words. Textual variant isrelated to authorial intention because the more textual variantsexist in the in any literary text, the more editors ought toreconstruct the most accurate authorial intention from it with theskills of insertion and text analysis.

Firstly,textual variants should not arise from the influence of other partiesto the author. Artistic intentions are supposed to be uninfluenced.Detection of textual variants that arise out of the influence ofothers on the author is an important skill because they are supposedto be rejected. According toMcGann (2003),scholars should present the author’s intentions that areunconstrained. Textual variants that alter the original intentions ofthe author are placed under considerable analysis to determinewhether they were made out of pressure from someone else to theauthor. For a text to qualify for a valid insertion that reflects theoriginal and influenced intentions, there must be sufficientevidence, both real and circumstantial, that proves that it was thekind of change the author would have made even without pressure fromany person(McGann, 2003).

Technologicaladvancements have improved he processes of scholarly editing indifferent ways. In prose, textual variants are identified throughCladistics, a techniques that were borrowed from cell biology,specifically, phylogenetic systematics. The process uses the sametechnique used in determining evolutionary relationships betweendifferent species under study. In textual criticism, the applicationis a computerized version of determining the similarity of texts withthe original manuscripts. Scholars simply enter texts from differentmanuscripts into a computer. The computer identifies and records thedifferences between the manuscripts. The recorded information is thenused to group the manuscripts according to the characteristics theyshare. This is quite different from the traditional analysis stylesthat arrange the manuscripts into overall similarities. Cladisticsclassifies them into families by adopting that assumption to obtainrelationships between the manuscripts.


Authorialintention in drama

Unlikeother literary genres, plays have a theatrical touch. A play must beable to be transformed to a stage performance in one way, or anotherapart from just reading it in text form(Vanhoutte, 2006)..Scholarly editors are hence, concerned with how the script canreflect the closest authorial intention from the originalmanuscripts. Most editors employ a stage-centered approach toediting, where the intention of the author is assumed to include arightful projection of any scholar’s responsibility to complete thework. This projection motivates editors to treat inconsistencies indrama as less significant than they may otherwise appear or sound.The assumption that subsequent processing of the manuscript iscapable of dealing with the discrepancies is, therefore, in mostcases rejected by scholarly editors of plays. Play writing withreference to the work of the original writer from the manuscriptallows relative inconsistencies from the author during composition.The time the play was composed is critical in streamlining problemsthat have to do with authorial intentions. For instance, if the playwas written during the Elizabethan era such as most of Shakespeare’splays, the post-modern threshold of inconsistency is overlooked. Forexample, the authorial intention of Shakespeare is articulate eventhough several manuscripts present Capulet’s wife as a wife, lady,old lady, and mother in different scenes. Of course, the familialrelationships in those days were different from the post-moderntimes therefore, Shakespeare’s intent is straightforward.

Authorialintention in poetry

Differentscholars use different methods of deriving the intention of theauthor from a poem. Some apply the intentionalist theory while othersuse the reconstruction theory (Greetham, 2005). Poetry is muchdifferent from prose and drama in terms of knowing the author’sintention due to the need to understand the circumstances in whichthe author wrote the poem. The intentionalist theory assumes that theintention between the meaning and the author’s intention is bothintrinsic and extrinsic. Reconstructionalists and intentionalistsagree argue that since meaning is a matter of consciousness, it isnot given and has to be reconstructed by the interpreter. Editorstherefore have to ensure that the constructed meaning has tocorrespond with the intention in the author’s mind. However, in thesame interpretation, scholarly editors assert that since meaning isnot autonomous from the author’s consciousness, it cannot surviveby itself either. Thus, it should be alike with it.

Othereditors who rely on the Reconstructionlist theory rely on theconviction that an authorial intention in poetry is not ahistorically contingent entity, and thus separated from the textualmeaning(Tanselle, 2002). They however believe that it is embodied in the expression itselfas a cause and its effect. The meaning of the poem does not, in thiscase, refer to the personality and history of the author but onlyreveals the content of the mind of the author.

Therole of reception

Receptionin literature is very important because it focuses on the way readersappreciate the work of editors. The audience does not just acceptliterary material in a passive way but relates it to their culturaland individual experiences. This is a fundamental aspect thatscholarly editors consider when editing literary texts such as drama,poems, and prose.

Roleof reception in Drama

Dramabased on a book, whether a novel or play, needs the consideration ofthe reaction of the audience to an editor’s work. Considering thata considerable section of the audience has information about theauthor and the original play, scholarly editor spend a lot of timeworking together with the author. In the instance that the play is anancient part of literature such as that of William Shakespeare,editors take time to categorize manuscripts if they are accessible tobe clear, readable, and of great impact to the listeners. The choiceof words will be concordant with the intended audience in terms ofknowledge, suitability, and age (Lecolinet et al, 2008). They cansuggest sections that require the inclusion of supporting pieces likeanecdotes that may be appropriate. The style of presentation is alsoimportant because it must be aligned to the themes and subject matterof the play. They use literary threads that connect differentchapters in the event that the ideas of the manuscript are notcohesive. Drama editors are very substantive. They focus on the storyelement, plot, characterization, dialogue, order of scenes, point ofview, setting, pace, and other aspects that could improve thestrength of the manuscript. They do not work with a writer from theonset by come later after the manuscript has several chapterscompleted.

Roleof reception in poetry and prose

Editorshave a lot of work in dealing with reception in prose than in poetry.In poetry, the editor only needs to improve on the poem withoutaltering its original diction. Otherwise, the audience may have adifferent view of the poem if any of the words change. They simplyhave to present a reliable text. Editors strive to be accurate,adequate, appropriate, consistent, and explicit while producing anedited poem.


Galey,A., Cuningham, R., Nelson, B., Siemens, R., &amp Werstine, P.(2009). Beyond remediation: The role of textual studies inimplementing new knowledge environments. NewKnowledge Environments,1(1).

Greetham,D. C. (Ed.). (2005). Scholarlyediting: a guide to research.Modern Language Association of America.

Lecolinet,E., Likforman-Sulem, L., Robert, L., Role, F., &amp Lebrave, J. L.(2008, May). An integrated reading and editing environment forscholarly research on literary works and their handwritten sources.In Proceedingsof the third ACM conference on Digital libraries(pp. 144-151). ACM.

McGann,J. J. (2003). ACritique of Modern Textual Criticism, Foreword by David C Greetham.University of Virginia Press.

Monroy,C., Kochumman, R., Furuta, R., Urbina, E., Melgoza, E., &amp Goenka,A. (2002). Visualization of variants in textual collations to analyzethe evolution of literary works in the Cervantes project. In Researchand Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries(pp. 638-653). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Shillingsburg,P. L. (2006). Scholarlyediting in the computer age: Theory and practice.University of Michigan Press.

Tanselle,G. T. (2002). Arationale of textual criticism.University of Pennsylvania Press.

Vanhoutte,E. (2006). Prose fiction and modern manuscripts: limitations andpossibilities of text-encoding for electronic editions. Unsworth,J., O’Brien O’Keeffe, K., and Burnard, L.(eds), ElectronicTextual Editing. A volume co-sponsored by the Modern LanguageAssociation’s Committee on Scholarly Editions and the Text EncodingInitiative Consortium, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.