Editing the Eighteenth Century
Editing the Eighteenth Century
University of Glasgow, 27-29 August 2009
Recent years have seen the inception of numerous large-scale editorial projects within eighteenth-century literary and related studies, whether already completed or still under way. Examples of collaborative projects include editions of Richardson (CUP), Swift (CUP), Pope (Longman), Fielding (CUP), Smollett (Georgia UP), Sterne (Florida UP), Burns (OUP), Adam Smith (Clarendon), and Burney's court journals (OUP). A longer eighteenth century takes in, among others, Dryden (Longman), Buckingham (OUP), the Tonson miscellanies (Routledge) at one end, with Austen (CUP), Wordsworth (Cornell), Shelley (Longman) and Hogg (Stirling/South Carolina) at the other.
There is wide agreement that well resourced and up-to-date editorial work on major authors is of durable benefit to the scholarly world, and there is a general awareness of fresh prospects for the preparation and dissemination of such work through IT (eg full-text databases and hypertext editions). Yet there has been little scholarly discussion of this phenomenon as a whole, or of its future. Is there a finite number of authors and texts for which ‘definitive’ editions are appropriate? Or does new technology mean, on the other hand, that the eighteenth-century scholarly community should be aiming to bring more material into the public domain by editing fresh texts from manuscript? If so, what materials should have priority, and what form should this editing take? What implications does our wider thinking about the eighteenth century have for editorial work in the future - how, for example, should the increasingly acknowledged importance of scribal publication, translation, or miscellanies be registered in editions of texts of the period? Should ‘literary’ texts be sharply distinguished for editing purposes from texts in the history of ideas, politics, or medicine, and if so, how?
This conference will bring together scholars with interests and expertise in eighteenth-century editing and bibliography to open up discussion of the topic. Its programme reflects two priorities: to ask what can be learned from recent work (especially within currently ongoing editions), and to ask what are the priorities and prospects for the next generation of editors/editions. Its organization into panels will reflect these priorities: several arise from current editorial projects on specific authors, addressing both practical and theoretical problems they have thrown up, while other panels are oriented towards the future: new technologies, new authors and texts.
Panel sessions will all be non-parallel (non-simultaneous), to allow discussion to flow in a semi-continuous fashion over the three days of the event. To these will be added a roundtable session drawing together the conference's themes, and talks by two very senior figures in eighteenth-century literary studies: John Barnard and Claude Rawson.
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