Computer-mediated Texts and Textuality: Theory and Practice

Critical Writing
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The majority of humanities computing projects within the discipline of literature have been conceived more as digital libraries than monographs which utilise the medium as a site of interpretation. The impetus to conceive electronic research in this way comes from the underlying philosophy of texts and textuality implicit in SGML and its instantiation for the humanities, the TEI, which was conceived as “a markup system intended for representing already existing literary texts”.
This article explores the most common theories used to conceive electronic research in literature, such as hypertext theory, OCHO (Ordered Hierarchy of Content Objects), and Jerome J. McGann’s “noninformational” forms of textuality. It also argues that as our understanding of electronic texts and textuality deepens, and as advances in technology progresses, other theories, such as Reception Theory and Versioning, may well be adapted to serve as a theoretical basis for conceiving research more akin to an electronic monograph than a digital library.

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Patricia Tomaszek