10.0891 digital variants

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 24 Apr 1997 21:41:32 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 891.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Domenico Fiormonte <ITADFP@srv0.arts.ed.ac.uk> (75)
Subject: Digital Variants

Dear Friends & Colleagues:

As some of you already know, we are working at the University of
Edinburgh (Department of Italian) on a web
project involving contemporary Spanish and Italian authors
(among others Manuel Vazquez Montalban, Fernando
Savater, Francesca Sanvitale, Vincenzo Cerami, etc.). The project is called "Digital
Variants" (http://www.ed.ac.uk/~esit04/italian.htm), and basically it
will be an on-line archive of textual variants, edited and made
available through the Internet.

Currently the editorial board of DV is formed by American, Italian and
Spanish scholars, and the good news is that the Centro Virtual of the
Instituto Cervantes (directed by Jose Antonio Millan) has agreed to
collaborate with us on further developing the project.

We are asking writers for electronic copies of their works,
to make them available to scholars and language teachers.
We require authors who are willing and "brave" enough to show
us the kitchen of the text -- that is the laborious writing phenomena
lying under the "final" version of a work. Of course, since all these
texts are under copyright, only short, though strategic, portions of
text will be on-line. Our idea is to allow the reader "to navigate"
into the author's variants through - for example - a multiple frames
We do not know if this would be the best system, and this is the
reason why I am asking your help.

Take the first text currently on line, a story by
Francesca Sanvitale in eight different passages
(http://www.ed.ac.uk/~esit04/sanvit_0.htm); now you can download
the critical "printed" edition of this piece and read it with
WinWord 2 or 6, but in the future we would like to make readable the
whole thing on screen, thanks to a system of frames/columns
with inter-textual and intra-textual links between the different passages
(see http://www.ed.ac.uk/~esit04/or-expr.htm#F5 for an example).
Is there any better technical idea/suggestion/etc.?


What are the implications/benefits/outputs of such an archive
and new philological methodology? I see at least three:
1) A data base of original texts in machine readable form (HTML)
available to scholars (initially).

2) Textual variants are insuperable tools for studying the writing
process, and an Internet archive is the ideal environment in which to
produce and practice original exercises and experiments. Therefore
linguists, literary critics, philologists, and composition teachers
(for example) will have a powerful resource for both teaching and

3) As the manuscript writing space fades away,
we face the inevitable disappearance of traditional
philological methodologies and concepts. The WWWeb
should allow us to build new textual environments, even for the edition of
complex "recensiones", where we have a dozen
(or more) variant texts.

The archive, thanks to the generosity of the authors, is growing
quickly. We have a lot of material, and we would be happy to share it
with other scholars/institutions.

This term we are using Sanvitale's eight passages for an on-line
experiment of textual analysis (advanced students [1st year Italian] will eventually have
to make their own "edition"), and we are willing to share our
methodologies, making available the Spanish and Italian texts already
archived for similar - or different - experiments.

I would be very grateful if any of you would suggest me other sites
involving philological methodologies and the web. I do not know if
there are similar projects on the Internet -- but I know that Humanist
is the ideal place to ask for advice and contributions.

Thanks in advance for your help

Do not forget to visit the DV site at:


Domenico Fiormonte
University of Edinburgh, Dept. of Italian
David Hume Tower, George Square
EH8 9JX -- United Kingdom

Fax: 131-650-6536
E-mail: itadfp@srv0.arts.ed.ac.uk

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