CIRCA:Kathryn Sutherland. “Revised Relations? Material Text, Immaterial Text, and the Electronic Environment”


Jump to: navigation, search

Kathryn Sutherland. “Revised Relations? Material Text, Immaterial Text, and the Electronic Environment” Text, Vol. 11(1998), pp.17-39.

As literary works are being digitized and archived, the author of this article raised a question that is to be discussed in several layers in this paper: are computers good? (17) Here the question deals with the issue of representation either through the medium of materialized printed book or immaterial, digitized text and how they are both representing the Real text “with varying degrees of success or failure.” (18) To start with, the author elucidates two differing standpoints from scholars to contrast the preference with book versus electronic and sided with the latter. She then presented a shared ground for these two opposing positions: the romantic ideology to resist social fashioning expressed in the act of “the incarnational written text repudiates in advance its vehicular print form.”(22) Several literary figures such as Wordsworth and Coleridge with their literary theories were constantly brought up in the article to enunciate her point. (22-24) This romantic ideology of editing texts carries a main concern of how parts represent wholes. Here the focus is shifted to a comparison of the abstractionist New Bibliography emphasis to the postmodern, fragmentary computer model and the vote naturally goes to electronic editing since for the author electronic archive is non-monotexual which echoes to Jack Stillinger’s theory of “textual pluralism.” (30) To put in the original words of the author: “Electronic editions are in themselves newly meaning-expressive…not simply a means to access the linguistic work in its multiple expressive forms.” (34) But again one should be conscious of the problem of iterability: whether the electronic environment only archives or could represent genuinely the heteroglossiality of archived texts? The answer is positive in both its ability to store poly texts and “liberating the poet’s ideational processes” (36) which functions as ‘meta-book’ as termed by McGann. To conclude, the author quoted Julia Flanders to emphasize and call for a clearer distinguish between meta-textuality over poly-textuality.

Personal tools