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Humanist Archives: March 16, 2019, 6:47 a.m. Humanist 32.553 - illusions of progress

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 553.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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    [1]    From: Francois Lachance 
           Subject: Conventions and Readings (Re: [Humanist] 32.549: Illusions of Progress & the price of manipulability) (48)

    [2]    From: Richard Cunningham 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.549: Illusions of Progress & the price of manipulability (16)

    [3]    From: Elisa Beshero-Bondar 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.549: Illusions of Progress & the price of manipulability (206)


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2019-03-15 17:31:24+00:00
        From: Francois Lachance 
        Subject: Conventions and Readings (Re: [Humanist] 32.549: Illusions of Progress & the price of manipulability)

Willard:

I was taken by teleological bent Dr. James Rovira's construction of the
text-convention relation:

- we're talking about textual products, which don't exist independently of
- any convention used to represent them. The text and the convention are the
- same thing. The text is created by the convention. When we talk about
- different editions of Shakespeare, we're talking about different
- conventions. The editions used for casual reading are different from those
- used for professional study, and different yet again for use in
- performance
- by actors and directors, different still again in the actual act of
- performance (which we have to divide up into stage and screen), and then
- different yet again for those used for encoding. The point isn't which
- text is the "real" text, but of what set of textual conventions are best
- followed for our purposes.

I am not entirely comfortable with the conceptual collapse of "convention"
and "text" ("The text and the convention are the same thing"). I think
it's a bit of overreach for how can work/play be done if there is no gap
between the conventions we use to read and the things that we read? I have
in mind a passage from Johanna Drucker in _Poetry Plastique_ curated by
Jay Sanders and Charles Bernstein who offers this view:

[quote]
Any textual artifact is a contingently configured field of potential,
capable of producing a reading.
[quote]

To which I would like to add: Every reading is a text. Of necessity.

But every reading is _not_ the text being read.

--
Francois Lachance
Scholar-at-large
http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance
https://berneval.blogspot.com


--
Francois Lachance
Scholar-at-large
http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance
https://berneval.blogspot.com



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2019-03-15 12:58:17+00:00
        From: Richard Cunningham 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.549: Illusions of Progress & the price of manipulability

Jim,


I know Desmond is more than capable of speaking for himself, but I just want to
say that the term "corruptive" and all its connotative baggage should be laid at
my door, not his.  And I'd note, too, that I used it in an analogy that I
expressed some reserve over.  So perhaps not so much should be made of it.  Your
note leads me to see it as a poor choice of words, but just for the sake of
clarity I need to claim it as my poor choice, no one else's.


Cheers,

Richard



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2019-03-15 07:47:27+00:00
        From: Elisa Beshero-Bondar 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.549: Illusions of Progress & the price of manipulability

Dear Humanists,

I'm replying to remarks made recently about the Frankenstein Variorum, with
some interesting code that may be worthy of continued discussion. Herbert
has raised an issue about our critical apparatus, though located not our
apparatus code but rather some pre-collation code from the Frankenstein
Variorum to feature on this list. I'd like to share a view of the
manuscript notebook passage that Herbert selected in comparison with the
other versions of Frankenstein at that moment. I think it is one of the
more interesting portions of critical apparatus in the Variorum--one of the
reasons I'm excited to be working on it, and I also think it will raise an
issue about locating semantic comparison across hierarchical structures
worth thinking about on this list.

Fair warning: the code I'm sharing below contains a fair amount of
flattened markup because we collate markup from our source edition files.
Some markup is masked from collation when we've decided it isn't meaningful
for semantic comparison (such as surface, zone, and line-beginnings). Some
markup is preserved and processed in the collation, visible in the lists of
tokens you'll see in the @n on rdgGrp. That attribute value gives you a
glimpse of the string tokens that we're feeding to our collation software,
collateX. We want some markup to be processed as significant
distinction--that is key to our algorithm and our thinking about the
Variorum and what we want to compare across five editions.

Desmond has suggested that it must be impossible for me to collate
deletions, but I am happy to say that is not so--we're quite successful
with it, and indeed this extends beyond the S-GA code to incorporate
insertions and deletions in the marginalia of the Thomas copy, a print
edition of the 1818 Frankenstein in which MWS added marginal insertions,
deletions, and annotations about plans to change the novel. Being able to
see the deleted passages in the critical apparatus sometimes (as in this
case) shows us something we might not have noticed before that aligns the
concepts of early and later versions. By the way, Desmond, I must correct
you: we have not one, but *two* editions in the Variorum critical apparatus
in which we collate manuscript deletion markup. You may protest that the
code is too difficult for humans to read, but do keep in mind that much of
the code is computer generated and designed for parsing and
construction--we made it for parsing, and it's the backend foundation of
what will be an interface. We think of this code as a "spine" or spinal
column for the Variorum, because we build up the edition from its
foundation. Indeed, a crucial and intensive phase of our work is "spinal
adjustment" on the part of the scholarly editor who must correct the
sometimes snagged and misaligned output of the collation software. (I'd
contend that if you aren't working carefully over this on a Variorum,
you're probably not doing your text-scholarly homework, and your Variorum
won't be as meaningfully readable--you might make it fast, but it might not
be reliable in its alignments.)

Don't blame the collation of XML markup for the time it takes to review and
revise collation algorithms and outputs following the Gothenburg Model.
Adjusting the spine  is not a problem caused by collating markup and it's
certainly not a problem with the edition hierarchies when they're pretty
well flattened here into the critical apparatus structure. No, rather, our
problem is a ubiquitous one of coping with text strings (sometimes with
angle brackets in them) that get snagged up on false positives like "a",
"was", "and" surfacing like a utopian island of harmony in the midst of
significant divergences. Once we've corrected the alignments (starting with
automated methods, facilitated by some Schematron I write), we use
automated methods to flatten, raise, and manipulate the code you see below
into output editions stamped with the encoding of data about variation for
each passage portioned in a critical apparatus. I believe I shared our Zen
Garden of Flatten and Raise slides in a previous post, but here they are
again: https://slides.com/elisabeshero-bondar/zenraising#/ , and the paper
connected with them:
https://www.balisage.net/Proceedings/vol21/html/Birnbaum01/BalisageVol21-Birnbau
m01.html

Here is the passage about which Herbert raise a question. It is a passage
that has no exact counterpart in the later editions, so I have taken some
pains with it to see where I think it best aligns. This is the role of the
text scholar, to make a decision about meaningful alignment. The manuscript
witness does not match the other editions for quite some time in this
stretch of text, but at this moment, I begin to see semantic parallel, just
on the cusp of the next passage where all the witnesses align around the
phrase that starts the next new sentence in all editions: "Natural
philosophy". You'll almost certainly find the simpler view of the collation
token list easier to read than the markup, and indeed that's why I
cultivate that view for our team.

 {app}
   {rdgGrp n="['chapt.', '2', 'those', 'events', 'which', 'materially',
'influence', 'our', 'future', 'destinies', '<del>are<del>',
'often', '<del>caused<del><del>by', 'slight',
'or<del>derive', 'thier', 'origin', 'from', 'a', 'trivial',
'occurence<del>s<del>.', '<del>strange', 'as',
'the<del><del>statement', 'of',
'the<del><del>simple', 'fact<del><del>may',
'appear', 'my', 'fate', 'had', 'been<del>']"}
   {rdg wit="fMS"}<gap quantity="22" reason="resequencing"
unit="tokens"/><gap quantity="4" reason="resequencing"
unit="lines"/><lb n="c56-0005__main__1"/><milestone
spanTo="#c56-0005.06" unit="tei:head"/>Chapt. 2<lb
n="c56-0005__main__2"/> Those events which materially influence our
fu<lb n="c56-0005__main__3"/>ture destinies <del
rend="strikethrough" sID="c56-0005__main__d2e949"/>are<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e949"/> often <del rend="strikethrough"
sID="c56-0005__main__d2e954"/>caused<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e954"/><del rend="strikethrough"
sID="c56-0005__main__d2e957"/>by slight or<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e957"/>derive thier origin from atri<lb
n="c56-0005__main__4"/>vial occurence<del rend="strikethrough"
sID="c56-0005__main__d2e971"/>s<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e971"/>. <del next="#c56-0005.02"
rend="strikethrough" sID="c56-0005__main__d2e974"/>Strange as the<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e974"/><metamark
function="insert">^</metamark><del rend="strikethrough"
sID="c56-0005__main__d2e985"/>statement of the<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e985"/><del next="#c56-0005.03"
rend="strikethrough" sID="c56-0005__main__d2e992"
xml:id="c56-0005.02"/>simple fact<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e992"/><lb n="c56-0005__main__5"/><del
rend="strikethrough" sID="c56-0005__main__d2e998"
xml:id="c56-0005.03"/>may appear my fate had been<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e998"/>{/rdg}
    {/rdgGrp}
   {rdgGrp n="['i', 'find', 'it', 'arise,', 'like', 'a', 'mountain',
'river,', 'from', 'ignoble', 'and', 'almost', 'forgotten', 'sources;',
'but,', 'swelling', 'as', 'it', 'proceeded,', 'it', 'became', 'the',
'torrent', 'which,', 'in', 'its', 'course,', 'has', 'swept', 'away', 'all',
'my', 'hopes', 'and', 'joys.<p/>']"}
   {rdg wit="f1818"}I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble
and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as it proceeded, it became the
torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys.<p
eID="novel1_letter4_chapter1_div4_div1_p14"/> {/rdg}
   {rdg wit="f1823"}I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble
and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as it proceeded, it became the
torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys.<p
eID="novel1_letter4_chapter1_div4_div1_p14"/> {/rdg}
   {rdg wit="fThomas"}I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble
and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as it proceeded, it became the
torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys.<p
eID="novel1_letter4_chapter1_div4_div1_p14"/> {/rdg}
   {rdg wit="f1831"}I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble
and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as it proceeded, it became the
torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys.<p
eID="novel1_letter4_chapter2_div4_div2_p6"/> {/rdg}
    {/rdgGrp}
  {/app}


{app}
   {rdgGrp n="['<del>chemist<del>natural', 'philosophy']"}
   {rdg wit="fMS"}<del rend="strikethrough"
sID="c56-0005__main__d2e1001"/>Chemist<del
eID="c56-0005__main__d2e1001"/>Natu<lb n="c56-0005__main__6"/>ral
philosophy {/rdg}
    {/rdgGrp}
   {rdgGrp n="['<p/>natural', 'philosophy']"}
   {rdg wit="f1818"}<p
sID="novel1_letter4_chapter1_div4_div1_p15"/>Natural philosophy {/rdg}
   {rdg wit="f1823"}<p
sID="novel1_letter4_chapter1_div4_div1_p15"/>Natural philosophy {/rdg}
   {rdg wit="fThomas"}<p
sID="novel1_letter4_chapter1_div4_div1_p15"/>Natural philosophy {/rdg}
   {rdg wit="f1831"}<p
sID="novel1_letter4_chapter2_div4_div2_p7"/>Natural philosophy {/rdg}
    {/rdgGrp}
  {/app}


I found this passage in the manuscript of great interest to align because
it stands out as meaningfully comparable, but not at all in the same
language or structure as the other editions, though it leads to the same
destination in Victor's primary study. The deletions in the MS gave me the
signals of semantic alignment with the mountain-torrent passage in the
print editions.

 I'd like to foreground this passage in our discussion because it
represents the old-fashioned work I have to do as a scholarly editor--I
can't rely on computer systems to deliver this particular alignment the way
it should be, though they aligned what they could. And yet this project is
also full of schema validation and transformation
pipelines--machine-assisted but human coded, too. It's not easy to read a
manuscript edition as it compares with other editions, and we have not yet
been able to read a clear view of passages like this in print editions with
footnotes or margin notes that sprawl across pages. We're working to design
a good, user-centered view of this, but I'm enjoying the intellectual work
on the backend.

Digital editions are as intricate and complicated as we made them, and I'm
aware I've made decisions and developed algorithms that value
complexity--probably these wouldn't be everyone's choices, but they're
mine. (I remember when we were considering not collating deletions in the
Variorum, and also how, when I inspected the code, I decided I really
wanted to do it and took up the challenge.) Our algorithms and data models
are what we require to build according to our plan. Perhaps digital
editions are as distinctive as their editors' designs, and the scholarly
editor works best when the data model is designed to suit the research
questions motivating the edition.


Cheers,

Elisa
--
Elisa Beshero-Bondar, PhD
Director: Center for the Digital Text
https://www.greensburg.pitt.edu/digital-humanities/center-digital-text

Associate Professor of English
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
Humanities Division
150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA  15601  USA
E-mail: ebb8@pitt.edu



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