The Heroic Age

A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe

Issue 11 (May 2008)  |   Issue Editors: Larry Swain & Linda Malcor

Founded 1998   |   ISSN 1526-1867

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Forum—State of the Field in Anglo-Saxon Studies


| Forum—Virtually Anglo-Saxon |

Electronic Medievalia

Continental Business


babelisms—Absent Beowulf


The Reality of Media in Anglo-Saxon Studies

Martin K. Foys
Hood College

© 2008 by Martin K. Foys. All rights reserved. This edition copyright © 2008 by The Heroic Age. All rights reserved.

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt published with the permission of author and publisher from Visually Anglo-Saxon by Martin Foys. It is published here as it appears in the book, mutatis mutandis for the change in media. As the author points out, this change in media is entirely appropriate to the subject of the book and the excerpt. Its an exciting work and we trust that you will enjoy it. Our thanks go to Dr. Foys and the University of Florida press for their permission to use this excerpt.

Bio: Martin Foys, is an associate professor of English at Hood College, in Frederick, Maryland. His Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition (SDE: 2003) won the International Society for Anglo-Saxonists (ISAS) prize for Best Edition (2003-2005), and was selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title. His current book, Virtually Anglo-Saxon: Old Media, New Media, and Early Medieval Studies in the Late Age of Print (University Press of Florida: 2007), has just won the ISAS prize for Best Book (2005-2007), and been nominated for the Katherine Singer Kovacs Book Award for Cinema and Media Studies.

If the aggregate time spent writing scholarly works and in reading them could be evaluated, the ratio between these amounts of time might well be startling. . . . The difficulty seems to be, not so much that we publish unduly in view of the extent and variety of present-day interests, but rather that the publication has been extended beyond our present ability to make real use of the record. The summation of human experience is being expanded at a prodigious rate, and the means we use for threading through the consequent maze to the momentarily important item is the same as was used in the days of square-rigged ships.

— Vannevar Bush

Author's Note:  You are reading a selection from the recently published Virtually Anglo-Saxon: Old Media, New Media, and Early Medieval Studies in the Late Age of Print. The goal of this book is to some extent cannibalistic, as it seeks to show (through case studies of visionary Old English poetry, Anglo-Saxon maps of the world, Benedictine devotional writings, medieval mathematical systems, stone sculpture of Viking settlers, and the Bayeux Tapestry) that the printed medium has, as Bush notes, "been extended beyond our present ability to make real use of the record" (Bush 1945). At the same time, the book, with more than seven hundred footnotes, almost five hundred cited sources, and a neat, closure-inducing epilogue (written at the request of the press' initial readers), is an exercise in striation and structural unity, enacting in print much of what it critiques about print. Ironically, this printed appraisal of print is in Heroic Age coming to you digitally—one additional link in the extending chain of remediation that has become increasingly easy to fashion in recent years. To further the awareness (or hypermediacy, as the effect is known in New Media circles) of not simply the content, but the medium (original and current) of the content, I have in this version retained the interlinks [→ pg.#], originally printed to suggest yet poorly remediate the function of digital hyperlinks. In your version, of course, the rest of the book does not exist, so they can take you nowhere—even more ironic, given the latest, electronic redaction of this piece. Even here, though, they still suggest that other paths within this text beyond the uni-linear remain to be found, imagined or invented. Likewise the frustration of unlinked endnotes, as opposed to hyperlinks, or better yet, transparent notes accessible via the rollover of your cursor, here remains with hyper-immediate calculation, along with the printed tradition of short-title footnotes that force you to look up full titles in the subsequent bibliography. So sorry, but hopefully you see where this is all going, as such choices emphasize the particular limitations of the typographic practices that often silently run beneath our radar.

1. The Remediation of Reality

§1.  The technology of print was, and for the most part remains, the sine qua non of modern scholarship. For the better part of half a millennium, the only possible medium for the researched birth, published life, and citational afterlife of a scholarly discovery, idea, or interpretation has been the printed word. Generations of scholars have lived and died in this typocentric universe, and have had as little reason to question the effect of print as they might to question why we breathe—print was, in effect, the life-giving oxygen of academia. In Anglo-Saxon studies, since Matthew Parker first printed Anglo-Saxon texts in the 1560s, printed editions and scholarship have framed and housed the vast majority of Anglo-Saxonist debate and interpretation. Indeed, the mass production, standardization, and dissemination of rare and often inaccessible manuscripts and objects have provided a vital common ground upon which generations of critics have built scholarly discourses of increasing accuracy and comprehensiveness. Our current and considerable understanding of the Anglo-Saxon world could quite simply not exist without the advantages and advances of the printed word. But until very recently in the history of modern medieval studies, print, while acknowledged as a technological medium, has rarely been regarded as a technological mediator. And while print may be the mechanism by which early medieval material might be effectively studied in the modern age, the mediating, or rather remediating, power of print culture necessarily reconstructs this material, literally re-producing it as something deeply modern in condition and aspect.

§2.  In their recent study on the impact of digital technologies upon modern modes of representation, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin develop the notion of remediation, the "formal logic by which new media refashion the prior media forms."1 Remediation, importantly, is not simply the recycling of other media. Rather, it operates through what Bolter and Grusin term a double logic; at the same time that a new media form redefines prior media, the new form itself must develop from the appropriative strategy—in short, as a form remediates, it is also remediated. 2 In the early age of print, this double logic resulted in an intense symbiotic relationship between the medieval and the typographic. Early printers depended heavily on both medieval scribal conventions and manuscript content for their early commercial products, even as the spread of printing in turn inspired the birth and spirited growth of first antiquarianism and then formal medieval studies.3

§3.  In the past two decades, Elizabeth Eisenstein's groundbreaking work, along with the host of research and commentary that followed in its wake, has firmly established the revolutionary role the printing press played in the profound social, intellectual, scientific, economic, political, and theological shifts that defined the emergence of modern Western culture.4 Even if, as some critics reasonably contend, print culture cannot be the source of all such social and intellectual change, the technology has had considerable impact on the growth and development of coeval revolutions—perspective, market economics, Newtonian space.5 Print happened because information in late medieval culture had reached a point of critical mass: contemporary delivery systems were simply not able to serve society's growing needs. In other words, "information overload did not so much originate as culminate with printing."6 In the first fifty years of the printing press, somewhere between eight and twenty million books were produced—more than the total of a full millennium of scribal production.7 In turn, print created even more information, and allowed for the proliferation of advertising, maps, scientific charts, perspective theory, art, architecture, fashion, and, most important for this study, scholarship, in a way impossible before.

§4.  The mass production and dissemination of such information had a pullulating effect on ideas of language and learning in early modern Europe. As the early-sixteenth-century Anglo-Saxon scholar John Foxe observes in his Actes and Monuments:

as printyng of bookes ministred matter of readyng: so readyng brought learnyng: learnyng shewed light, by the brightnes wherof blind ignoraunce was suppressed, errour detected, and finally, Gods glory, with the truth of hys worde, aduaunced.8

Foxe places print at the head of the ontological trail, not as a platonically corrupt form of God's word, but as an error-detecting (and, by implication, correcting) gateway to that Word, banishing lower, more ignorant forms. Foxe's assessment of print also dramatically remediates the long-standing medieval and Neoplatonic belief in Augustinian sign theory, where writing moves further from the perfection of divine Verbum. For Foxe, the new medium of print instead moves closer to such perfection, and becomes the basis, not the representation, of the reality of "Gods worde" and, by extension, the created world. [→93]

§5.  In Foxe's world, the new dominance of print "imposed a structure and organization on a 'natural' language system, and educated the eye so that it could better compare and organize ideas."9 The restructuring effect of print coincided with the cultural ascendancy of its major attributes throughout Europe: homogenization, repeatability, quantification, mensuration, concatenation, and linearity. As Walter Ong has demonstrated, writing restructures consciousness, and the printing revolution amplified this process exponentially.10 Ong also reminds us that both writing and printing are technologies that gradually have become integrated into modern life to the point that they appear to function organically in their representational roles, as "intelligence is relentlessly reflexive, so that even the external tools that it uses to implement its working become 'internalized,' that is, part of its own reflexive process."11

§6.  Foxe's quotation further reminds us that early modern society often viewed print as a more accurate and precise mechanism to reproduce reality. Along with the word, the typographic image—though eventually subsumed under what Michael Camille calls the "philological iconoclasm" of print culture—also played a key role, ironically, in this reality of print.12 The uniform repeatability of printed images, in conjunction with the rise of single-point perspective, had incalculable effects upon science and scholarship, but also signaled a wholesale shift in the way the world was viewed.13 [→279] As Eisenstein has shown, medieval illustrations (and early woodcuts copied from them) illustrated text, but sixteenth-century printed images began to be thought to illustrate nature. That is, in the viewer's eyes the images approached reality, which led to the assumption that the printed version was a faithful copy of the real, as opposed to the artificed representation of it.14 Or, as McLuhan declares, if "the entire Middle Ages had regarded Nature as a Book to be scanned for the vestigia dei," the typographic man "took the lesson of print to be that we could now literally get Nature out in a new and improved edition."15

§7.  In other words, the representational function of print, coupled with the massive scale of its mass production, its cognitive interiorization, and the early modern ideology that man can create as well as contemplate the world, ultimately resulted in the production of reality.16 In "editions" of reality the natural world is remediated by the all-pervasive presence of print technology: "what is 'natural' is what is manufactured; what is 'real' is what is artificial."17 Thus, in Bolter and Grusin's terms, one of the primary effects of technological remediation is a movement toward "transparent immediacy," where composite cultural expressions in print integrate representations of reality, and simultaneously perform cultural work that renders the remediation inseparable from the reality represented.18 [→83]

2. Anglo-Saxonism: History and Effect

§8.  The earliest modern scholars of Anglo-Saxon England promoted such transparency; the printed editions they produced in turn produced and then remediated the reality of the Anglo-Saxon period, and their own Elizabethan age. Print's remediation of the medieval happened in tandem with the invention of the printing press, not only in the pseudepigraphous incunabula's formal emulation of medieval manuscripts, but in the content of the printed product as well. In the first two centuries of print production, in the estimate of one study, more than 90 percent of the printed material was medieval in origin or content.19

§9.  Anglo-Saxon material, however, did not enjoy such immediate attention. Though Bede's Historia was one of the first historical works to appear in print, in 1475, few other Anglo-Latin texts and no Old English texts were printed in the century after Gutenberg, as almost no Anglo-Saxon material was known to late medieval readers.20 But in the rise of antiquarianism-cum-scholarship that rapidly followed the standardized and widespread dissemination of medieval material, John Leland, Robert Talbot, and Robert Recorde, and then John Foxe, Matthew Parker, Laurence Nowell, John Joscelyn, and the rest of the mid-sixteenth-century "Parker circle" focused on collecting and then printing editions and commentaries of Anglo-Saxon texts.21 As Allen Frantzen, Richard Clement, Peter Lucas, and others have shown, the printed publications of Matthew Parker and his contemporaries were shaped by political and theological bias and desire, most specifically with regard to proving a historical basis for many of the practices of the nascent Anglican Church. To support their claims, early Anglo-Saxon antiquarians argued that print enabled the transparent recovery and restoration of a "unified and integral" version of the Anglo-Saxon past in harmonious continuity with the Elizabethan present—a historical past through which their labors, in John Foxe's words, became "full and perfect," and "a Pristine state of olde conformitie."22 Similarly, William L'Isle in the preface to his 1623 edition of Ælfric's Saxon Treatise Concerning the Old and New Testament pointed to the importance of studying Old English, so that

we may be able to declare vnto all men, whom it concernes, the true meaning of their titles, charters, priuiledges, territories and precincts, comparing with the nature of each thing, the name thereof so fitted, as the one to this day plainly points out the other.23

§10.  In their literary and political efforts, L'Isle, Foxe, Parker, and others took full advantage of print technology to realize what they took to be an "ostensibly transparent contact with the past."24 The invention of Anglo-Saxon type fonts that emulated Old English script furthered the faith that technology brought an immediacy to the past's representation; in 1574 Parker proclaimed that reading printed works such as his edition of Asser's Life of Alfred (with his specially designed typeface) would "restore for you the memory of the ancient language, our former mother tongue."25 But the material effect of print also subtly manipulated its presentation of Anglo-Saxon expression, as early modern typography's ability to subliminally authenticate an ancient text gradually became replaced by the authority of the distinctively modern-looking edition.26

§11.  While the earliest printed editions of Anglo-Saxon texts focused on the authorizing visual impact of the manuscripts they (re)produced, the tools developed to do so were soon applied to different ends. Because of their perceived power to confer authenticity, within eight years of their creation the Old English fonts designed by Parker were being employed ahistorically to print Latin texts.27 Even the particulars of font size and layout came to subjectively dictate meaning: Parker would use different point sizes in accordance with his conception of the authority of his texts, while the use of such devices as italics, pointing, and alternating fonts all orchestrated a specific mode of interpretation.28 Indeed, as Peter Lucas has shown, the very ownership of Anglo-Saxon types and matrices itself became highly politicized, as access to the historical and custom typefaces in the sixteenth century was tightly controlled, and led, in at least one instance, to deceptive schemes to borrow a set of types in order to illegally recast them.29

§12.  Ultimately, even as it worked to preserve, recover, and restore the past, the political and practical realities of early Anglo-Saxonist printing produced an antiquity as artificial as it was real, and anticipated the much more severe manipulation of text and layout to come in later modern scholarship.30 The efforts of these sixteenth-century pioneers, however, differ from later scholarly work in their liminal connections back to medieval textualities. Leland, Talbot, Recorde, among the earliest of Old English antiquarians, did not have their work printed at all, but rather only transcribed texts, thereby continuing the compilatio of manuscript culture. In their work, the Parker circle liberally annotated the manuscripts they studied and prepared for print, and freely collated variants, using bits and pieces of one Anglo-Saxon text to supplement and "complete" another.31 William L'Isle took this practice even further, deliberately manipulating passages of Middle English texts to appear like Old English, in order to print fuller versions in the older language.32 Incomplete texts also could be considered scrap—Matthew Parker destroyed a fragment of one unique Old English homily, using it as binding because he did not have the complete text.33

§13.  Such methodologies jar the sensibility of modern medievalists, who now painstakingly work to recover single letters of Old English from damaged texts. One can almost feel the horror in V. H. Galbraith's mid-twentieth-century account of Parker's treatment of one medieval manuscript:

[Parker] defaced the manuscript by writing over the margins, crossing out words in ink, inserting headings, enclosing passages in brackets, interlining passages for insertion, keying up the manuscript to pages of the printed version—in a word, treating it like copy for a printer.34

Parker was treating the manuscript like copy for a printer, and his actions in part reflect the belief that the medium more accurately articulated the textual reality only partially realized in medieval manuscripts. But much of Parker's alterations to the manuscript—marginalia, deletions, insertions, interlineations—also reflect standard practices of medieval scriptoria, where, without the economic facility of print, the written products were treated as ongoing, collaborative documents. [→333] Parker and his contemporaries functioned as closely to their Anglo-Saxon scribal predecessors as to twentieth-century literary critics, if not closer. Today's scholars (much like Galbraith) operate in a world almost wholly typographic in orientation. Manuscripts are no longer physically revised, of course—that would be academic apostasy. But rewriting and manipulation still occur through the essential remediation of printed editions and scholarship. Parker and his circle, printing in what could be called "the late age of manuscript," did much the same, of course, but with a material practice much closer to the dynamics of medieval scribal culture.35 [→3]

§14.  Edward Christie maintains that if in "Anglo-Saxon writing the letter saves the past from oblivion . . . in the Early Modern typographical remediation of Old English documents, the letter is represented as a material encryption of the past."36 The divide of this double logic of the past's preservation and encryption only continued as aspects of modern scholarship developed in accord with print culture's growing emphasis on science, systemization, indexing, and linguistic analysis. In the seventeenth century, the establishment of university studies of Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge and Oxford coincided with the printing of the first major editions of Old English texts.37 The end of this century and the beginning of the next saw the production of the first "great tools" for Anglo-Saxon study: publications like William Somner's Dictionarium Saxonico-Latino-Anglicum (1659, with an edition of Ælfric's Grammar) and George Hickes's Thesaurus (1705, with Humphrey Wanley's catalogue of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts).38 These tools in turn set the stage for the development of the New Philology (now Old Philology) in the nineteenth century, solidifying the belief that the rational precision of modern scholarship, fueled by Herculean publications of editions, indices, concordances, dictionaries, and the like could realize a more complete picture of Anglo-Saxon language, literature, and culture than ever before possible. 39

§15.  While retaining a summa-like faith in the historical transparency of their work, successive generations of Anglo-Saxonists produced printed treatments that gradually leached away more and more medieval aspects of the expressions they represented. Innovations in typography "introduced a precise and ordered structure where previously, with manuscripts, flexibility and sinuous variation had been a necessity," abrading the basic assumptions of what constituted a medieval text.40 As print became more standardized and precise, medieval script, layout, and ornamentation became more difficult to reproduce.41 By the time roman type was adopted as the standard for printing in the eighteenth century, the presentation of medieval texts had grown quite distanced from the form of original material it sought to more accurately reproduce.42

§16.  Notwithstanding, the widespread access to printed editions led to a sense of critical empowerment. In his analysis of George Hickes's stylistic examinations of Old English poetry—arguably one the earliest examples of modern Anglo-Saxon literary criticism—Seth Lerer articulates the new power of print scholarship:

It is as if, perhaps, Hickes is flipping through his books: here a bit from Rawlison's edition of Boethius, there a page from Thwaites's Judith, and now and then a selection from Junius's Caedmonian biblical poetry.43

§17.  What Lerer describes is possible, of course, only with print; it is a process worlds away from Parker's transitional stage of Anglo-Saxon study, but distinctly familiar to a modern scholar. Hickes, to be sure, did massive manuscript study as well, without which his accomplishment would have been impossible. But his analysis differs from medieval accretion—the conceptual scale of the overview and analysis presented depends in many ways not on manuscript study but on the sheer number of resources made more accessible by print.44 Lerer's depiction of Hickes's scholarly process also describes the movement from the baldly political agenda of the earliest Anglo-Saxonists to a critical, academic agenda. Parker worked to put manuscripts in print. Hickes worked from manuscripts in print, and with Humphrey Wanley created in his Thesaurus a print resource for Anglo-Saxon study unrivaled until the mid-twentieth-century catalogues of N. R. Ker.45

§18.  After critical empowerment, however, comes critical entitlement, and by the nineteenth century Anglo-Saxonists began to take for granted that the breadth and depth of the data and learning now at their disposal, along with the technology to reproduce it, enabled modern academics to produce a medieval text superior to a medieval redaction. J. M. Kemble, in an oft-quoted passage from the introduction to his 1833 edition of Beowulf, proclaims:

A modern edition, made by a person really conversant with the language he illustrates, will in all probability be much more like the original than the manuscript copy, which, even in the earliest times, was made by an ignorant or indolent transciber.46

Kemble's declaration marks a tectonic shift in the critical view of modern print versus medieval manuscript. For Parker and company, manuscripts served as the immediate source of the medieval text to be assembled and presented. Three centuries later, the modern scholar had supplanted medieval scribe as producer of the text. Certainly modern attitudes have more recently tempered Kemble's bias, but its spirit still remains in much of the scholarly work of the past century.47

§19.  Printed editions of medieval material now serve as the basis for the majority of scholarship produced; more than half of the accepted emendations to the text of Beowulf, for instance, derive from the work of editors who never saw the manuscript.48 Such typographic dominance sets the stage for the next phase in the remediation of the medieval by the modern. Fred C. Robinson has theorized that "the development of printing with movable type brought into being the modern literary concept of 'the text,' " while Jerome McGann has argued that "when we use books to study books, or hard-copy texts to analyse other hard-copy texts, the scale of the tools seriously limits the possible results."49 The contradiction found between these two statements—the technology that enables literary study also disables it—summarizes the current critical (in both senses) dilemma of much of contemporary Anglo-Saxon scholarship. In the past century, the dynamic of print scholarship has continued the remediating paradox begun in the sixteenth century. Printed editions and the kind of literary criticism they facilitate have allowed the continued growth of Anglo-Saxon studies, and preserved and disseminated practically the entire corpus of Anglo-Saxon artistic, historical, legal, and theological expression to successive generations of scholars and students. At the same time, the limitations of print culture have created rather bulky and imprecise simulacra of actual medieval discourse.50 But print's pervasiveness of convenience and (at times) necessity, coupled with its inherited (and now interiorized) ideology of precision, accuracy, and epistemological superiority, has in turn created a discourse accepted as more real than artificed, maintaining the centuries-old (but increasingly more fragile) illusion of transparent immediacy to the Anglo-Saxon past.

§20.  In Jean Baudrillard's terminology, the dominance of print in representation of early medieval discourse now approaches the hyperreal, where the sign of the real approaches the real itself, where the copy precedes the original and ultimately obscures it, and where reality is not reproduced but in fact produced by the signifying medium.51 [→200] Today, the bulk of study and scholarship of Anglo-Saxon England still occurs through print; a priori, print produces for most modern readers the reality of Anglo-Saxon England. Inevitably, print becomes the foundation of the study of manuscript itself; Kevin Kiernan, to cite one particularly cogent example, has demonstrated how the printed edition of a twelfth-century manuscript of Boethius's Consolatio ended up serving as the basis for readings of a tenth-century manuscript that substantially differed in its formal structure.52

§21.  Vannevar Bush, in his prescient 1945 essay "As We May Think," understood that modern scholarship needed to move beyond print: "Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose."53 As Anglo-Saxon studies progressed during the four-hundred-odd years since Matthew Parker, layer upon layer of academic discourse has accreted, leaving the most recent generation of scholars to stretch the referential capacity of the printed page to the point of unwieldiness. A footnote from Lerer concerning his presentation of Hickes's quotations of the Old English Exodus reveals the complicated status of early modern and contemporary treatments of such texts, as well as the multiplying layers of editorial traditions that must now be navigated:

Hickes prints Old English in half lines in a single column, each line beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period (or a colon). For purposes of space, I have realigned these half lines into full lines corresponding to the lineation of modern editions. But I have kept Hickes's spellings, even when they differ from modern editions (on Hickes's, or his printer's, lapses of transcription, see the appendix). The standard, modern text of Exodus (and other Old English poems) can be found in George Philip Krapp and Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie, eds., The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, 6 vols. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931-53), vol. 1, pp. 103-4, lines 447-51. Hereafter, where available, references to this modern edition will be given by volume, page, and line numbers in brackets, following the Thesaurus page reference. All translations from the Old English are my own.54

Understandably, the majority of those reading Lerer's essay are unlikely to check actual sources referenced: Hickes, Lerer's appendix, and Krapp and Dobbie. The printed text of Exodus alluded to here, however, is not the original Old English, nor is it Hickes's, or Krapp and Dobbie's. Lerer, has, in effect, created a new, multivalent text out of all of these, one that collapses a now dense diachronic textual genealogy into a momentary network, frozen on the page. This surrogate is constructed out of the necessities and limitations of printing conventions, the homogenizing need for standardization of type and citation reference, and authenticated (and accepted as "real") by the reader's own interiorized notion of the primacy of print. Lerer's footnote also emphasizes the precision and accuracy of more modern textualities by indicating the flawed nature of Hickes's own early modern edition, though these elements are of spatial necessity relegated to an appendix, itself literally at a distance from the corresponding text. All of this considerable apparatus exists in order to accurately reproduce four lines of Old English poetry. Notably, no reference to the immediate manuscript context of the Old English poetry is provided—the printed edition "naturally" suffices. Or, in Neil Kleinman's words, the technology of print has "imposed a structure and organization on a 'natural' language system, and educated the eye so that it could better compare and organize ideas . . . an emphasis on form over content: The structure (i.e., the design) of information is exaggerated while content becomes secondary."55

§22.  Lerer's footnote provides evidence for McLuhan's claim that print is rapidly moving from a "hot" medium, where the limit of routinization and determinism is established, to a "supercool" medium, where this limit is passed, "bombarding readers with such a plethora of codings that conventional interpretation collapses."56 As early as the mid-1920s, Walter Benjamin already considered that the printed book had passed its scholarly prime, writing;

the book is already, as the present mode of scholarly production demonstrates, an outdated mediation between two different filing systems. For everything that matters is to be found in the card box of the researcher who wrote it, and the scholar studying it assimilates it into his own card index.57

The point-to-point mediations between scholarly filing systems are, in Deleuzian terms, striated meaning, and stand in sharp contrast to the smoother space of medieval meaning. [→301] The current, systematic complexity of print scholarship's elaborate referential systems has also become the scion of Benjamin's dissatisfaction. Designed to support the hyperreality of print more than anything else, notes such as Lerer's indicate that we do indeed live in the late age of print, and that we are more rapidly approaching the "supercool" end of typographic conventions. In Bolter and Grusin's terms, scholars can no longer operate under even the presumptive illusion of transparent immediacy. Instead, print scholarship has arrived at the tipping point of hypermediacy, whose logic "acknowledges multiple acts of representation and makes them visible," as the interface of representation becomes foregrounded, and the content represented recedes to the background.58

§23.  In the past few decades, the problems with the hypermediacy of print scholarship in medieval studies have become more and more apparent, as a number of scholars have increasingly critiqued the dominant mode of their own scholarship, acknowledging that meaning occurs not only through the linguistic code of words but also through the "bibliographic code" of layout, illustration, type, and other formal elements of print.59 Some of the earliest qualms expressed concerned the intrusive, and possibly distorting, effect of modern punctuation on the editing of Old English texts. To most readers of modern English, the operation of the complex system of punctuation now employed in writing has largely disappeared—we rely on capitalization, commas, semicolons, periods, and the like in the subconscious mode; only rarely, when puzzling out a particularly difficult, usually hypotactic, sentence, do we consciously consider the presence of punctuation.

§24.  Medieval applications of punctus, punctus elevatus, punctus versus, and their brethren rarely align with modern notions of punctuation, which arose in part from typographic necessity in the Renaissance when early modern humanists needed to systematize the printed editions of ancient and medieval texts for scholars; such systemization then gradually developed over three hundred years of Old English editing until the medieval text now enters fully dressed in modern grammar and punctuation.60 In the late age of print, however, modern methods of punctuation have "arrived at near perfection paradoxically just at the time when these editorial methods have become obsolete."61 In printed editions of Old English literature, as critics first argued in the 1970s and 1980s, the prescriptive punctuation now employed often fundamentally misrepresents the grammar, syntax, and meaning of the medieval material so treated.62 Bruce Mitchell, for instance, condemns the continued use of standard systems of modern punctuation by students and scholars, contending it betrays much of the medieval sense of Old English: "We are in a sense being forced into unnecessary dogmatism by our use of modern grammatical punctuation, which produces Modern English sentences instead of Old English verse paragraphs, verse paragraphs which . . . defy strict grammatical analysis."63 However, Mitchell's ultimate solution, to add even more characters of punctuation such as arrows, double commas, parentheses, and other symbols to indicate the cruces and subtleties of Old English literature that standard typographic conventions cannot, in essence amplifies the hypermediacy of Old English editing even as it attempts to more precisely represent its subject, and further highlights the "super cool" dilemma of modern print in relation to Anglo-Saxon studies.64

§25.  Such debates over the difficulties of editing Old English, usefully distilled by Paul Szarmach into issues of nonintervention versus conjectural emendation, rage on today, exacerbated by the increasingly pronounced limitations of print.65 Modern punctuation and standardized spellings continue to make Old English literature more readily available to the modern reader, but such practices and their differentials of quality also continue to increase the gap between the representing and represented media. Meanwhile, the steady evolution of the technology of printing has moved the very iteration of print away from its original form and meaning. As one printer who worked through most of the twentieth century noted, late-twentieth-century technological advances in publishing no longer produced a page of type, but rather "a picture of a page of type"—moving the typographic technology even further from the bodily labor of the scribal practice it remediates.66 The digital advances in word processing and publication increase the gap even further.

§26.  During this time of technological change, Anglo-Saxonists and other medievalists have also begun to return to the manuscript, and to consider more rigorously the isolating and limiting effect that the printed edition has upon the material it ostensibly reproduces. Fred Robinson, for instance, has argued that modern Anglo-Saxon literary criticism ignores the manuscript context of its subject, and that "if a text is detached from its codicological environment (as texts normally are in our modern editions), we risk losing that part of its meaning."67 Likewise, Michael Camille's formulation of "philological iconoclasm" makes the case that the logocentric exigencies of print "erases not only the marks of pictorial making from the [medieval] page but also any signs of material labor that are not pertinent to disembodied textual meaning."68 Further, the ready utility of the printed edition ensures that, paradoxically, the original material and paleographic form of the medieval text studied often now comes last in line in the critical and educational process, if it is consulted at all.69 Robinson, in the end, concludes that even the increasing presence of photographic facsimiles, arguably a remedy to the remediation of printed editions, inserts yet another level of representation between scholar and subject, and "can lead us to lose touch with the physical reality upon which our field is largely founded."70 Most recently, metacriticism of medieval studies has moved past practical considerations and into the realm of the theoretical. In his call for the end of the critical edition, Murray McGillivray reestablishes the primacy of the medieval text, contending that the process of the modern critical edition inevitably must reject some manuscript readings and witnesses—as "to fail to reject any manuscript reading would be to be uncritical"—and therefore must efface some aspects of the reality of medieval textuality in the modern representation.71

§27.  Even the dual bulwarks of modern medievalism, the strategies of best-text and base-manuscript stemmatics, ultimately arose from limitations of print.72 From the beginning, the production of printed editions has been governed by the desire to present a single, primary and unified text; arguably, such a desire developed because it was difficult, more or less, to configure a critical edition otherwise in print.73 The reality of medieval manuscript culture is that rarely, if ever, did a uniform, authoritative version of a text exist; even the Bible, the ultimate Word, remained irregular and unstable throughout most of the Middle Ages.74 However, as McGillivray indicates, the desires of both stemmatic and "best-text" studies create an ontological crisis that limits access to the medieval by positing an original, ideal text, an unreal version that in turn rationalizes the technical mandate of centering some text while marginalizing other text to the edge, gutter, or appendix. But in the eyes of recent critics, printing less is not more; less is actually less. The modern printed edition is a perfect paradigm of remediation and the hyperreal, a conflation of medieval manuscript variants in a "best text" that replaces both the technological medium and the textuality of the medieval with that of the modern.

§28.  In the past two decades, the culmination of such self-examination among Anglo-Saxonists has led to a growing understanding that centuries of printed redactions of medieval discourse have, in the end, produced material with distinctly un-medieval qualities. Editorial methods of culling medieval texts approach the works in ways no medieval reader would; the vast scale of proliferation and reception made possible by print produces a textual mentality no Anglo-Saxon scribe, author, or reader would ever experience.75 [→321] In all criticism, all that remains is the degree to which the modern is permitted to remediate its cultural predecessor. At best, our work can still seek a clarified vision of the medieval through the filter of modern media and thought; in the worst cases, we promote "a speculative reconstruction [that] has the effect of obscuring the medieval texts themselves."76 Transparency, the eidos of all scholarship, cannot be assumed to spring automatically from technological innovation, and the opacity of our own media is what the current generation of Anglo-Saxonists must acknowledge and obviate. Otherwise we void the notion that material expressions from the past have escaped the destruction of time, as the technological modes of scholarship deflect or distort aspects of the cultural work it seeks to preserve and replicate.

3. Level Four Information and Anglo-Saxon Studies

§29.  The printing press heralded the movement into the third level of civilization and information management (the first two being the development of language and then the development of writing).77 In the past few decades, modern society has entered into a fourth level of information management, occasioned by the explosion of digital technology, and is in the process of undergoing similar cultural transformations.78 As the print culture influenced the rise and subsequent character of Anglo-Saxon studies, so will this new culture of technology "thoroughly rewrite the writing space" and fundamentally change not only the tools by which we study the Anglo-Saxon period but the very epistemology of such studies.79

§30.  The advent of New Media then, places the discipline on the threshold of a new stage of academic apperception. The fluidity of digital technology promises fresh modes of representation and study that can provide very real alternatives to the medium of print, and perhaps recover aspects of the Anglo-Saxon world that have remained unaccounted for in print.80 Of course, such technological thresholds are where the double logic of remediation functions most forcefully. Even as digital media begin to effect all sorts of discursive change, these media and the initiatives they engender likewise are influenced by the prior character of print in their development. Unfortunately, much digital work in academic scholarship has yet to grasp that new media should not simply extend the power of print.81 [→324] Indeed, so many of the electronic initiatives and their metacriticism in medieval studies have focused on the very aspects that print privileged—standardization, logocentrism, linear analysis—that Peter Robinson has recently argued that "almost without exception, no scholarly electronic edition has presented material . . . in a manner significantly different from that which could have been managed in print."82 But this is no longer because there is no other way to study the past. In his critique Robinson insists: "For long, we have been used to seeing data in list form: lists of variants, lists of manuscripts: essentially, in a single linear dimension," and calls for editing of medieval manuscripts to take place "in a third digital dimension."83

§31.  Robinson's spatial metaphor for the expansion of critical paradigms recalls the earlier discussion of Seth Lerer and George Hickes, and that the printed form of medieval scholarship has compressed and/or elided layers of interpretation that have accrued through both the medieval and modern periods.84 The representational flexibility of digital media, freed from the physical limitations of the page and able now to "link up" information in virtually limitless and simultaneous ways, in tandem with its ever developing modes of encoding, processing, and producing all kinds of data, means that additional digital dimensions need not be limited to a third.

§32.  In Anglo-Saxon studies, where practical applications of electronic media have flourished, most critical commentary on New Media has remained restrained either to descriptions of these applications and their practical utility or to discussions of the impact of technology on editorial method.85 Such work, while valuable, may also work to, as Nicholas Howe puts it, "reassert traditional working practices against new theoretical developments."86 But alongside the practical applications of digital technology, emergent theories have begun to document and explain how New Media now creates textualities across a range of media that operate in ways unimaginable a few decades ago. These new alternatives to print also suggest a series of homologies between the post-print and the pre-print. Early New Media commentators were quick to point out that digital media and medieval discourse have in common a number of traits that print does not share. McLuhan contrasted the cultural functions of "medieval plurality and modern homogeneity," remarking that on the cusp of the computer age "we live on the frontier between five centuries of mechanism and the new electronics, between the homogeneous and the simultaneous"; Walter Ong deemed post-typographic electronic expression a "secondary orality" that in many ways harkens back to premodern models of communication, while Jay David Bolter more explicitly claimed that, in contrast to the printed book, "only in the medieval codex were words and pictures as unified as they are on the computer screen.87 [→104] More recently, an increasing number of critics have refined such functional analogies, further developing how pre- and post-print worlds connect through analogies of their respective operation.88

§33.  Importantly, before moving on to the particular discussions of New Media theory and early medieval expression in the following chapters, it must be stressed that digital media are not silver bullets and do not offer any sure way to precisely and accurately recover the reality of medieval expression any more than the technology of print does. The digital is anything but "real" in its formulation of medieval texts and objects. The virtuality of the screen, for instance, can move the post-print viewer even further away from the bodily involvement and the (in some ways) sensory aspects of medieval manuscripts.89 If anything, the "virtual" quality of the digital is doubly so; as Edward Christie maintains in his analysis of the Electronic Beowulf, the compelling visual transparency with which New Media can present an Anglo-Saxon artifact must not be confused or conflated with historical transparency. Digital technology creates an even more potent version of hyperreality than print, and it becomes easy to convince oneself that an exquisitely rendered digital edition can be "more authentic than the original."90 To do so is to fall in behind a long line of Anglo-Saxonists who believed that modern technical innovation had the capability to "out-medieval" the medieval source.

§34.  But given that print has conditioned the past half millennium of scholarship, the moment is ripe to explore the fresh critical perspectives New Media theory may yield in regard to Anglo-Saxon texts and objects from the period. Until now, what little theoretical consideration of the medieval-digital nexus there has been has dealt with later medieval discourse. As an early stage of medieval culture, the Anglo-Saxon period itself embodied a time of great cultural development and transformation. Likewise, scholars have come to realize that long past 1066, England experienced what could be termed "the late age of Anglo-Saxon," as the transition to an Anglo-Norman culture was not sudden, but quite gradual.91 Throughout the discussions found in the rest of Virtually Anglo-Saxon, the experimental nature of the pre-print texts and multimedia from Anglo-Saxon England teaches us that we still have much to learn about the intersection of technology and culture, and how each helps produce the other.


1.   Bolter and Grusin, Remediation, 273.  [Back]

2.   Bolter and Grusin, Remediation, 53-62.  [Back]

3.   See, for instance, Clanchy, "Looking Back," and Blake, "Manuscript to Print."  [Back]

4.   Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution). See Robertson, The New Renaissance, for a concise distillation of Eisenstein's arguments. See, to cite just a few of the studies that followed, Chartier, The Cultural Uses of Print, Chartier, The Culture of Print, Steinberg and Trevitt. Five Hundred Years of Printing, McKitterick, Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order, Kleinman, "The Gutenberg Promise," Bland, "The Appearance of the Text," and Clegg, "The History of the Book." For earlier important treatments, see Febvre and Martin, The Coming of the Book, and McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy.  [Back]

5.   For arguments attenuating the "revolutionary" aspects of print culture, see Clanchy, "Looking Back," and Voights, "Scientific and Medical Books."  [Back]

6.   Hobart and Schiffman, Information Ages, 90  [Back]

7.   Hobart and Schiffman, Information Ages, 101-102.  [Back]

8.   Foxe, Actes and Monuments, 2D5v; ctd. in Robinson, "Dark Speech," 1063.  [Back]

9.   Kleinman, "The Gutenberg Promise," 81. Cf. McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy; Deibert, Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia, 45-110; Crosby, The Measure of Reality; Ong, Orality and Literacy, 117-138; Bland, "The Appearance of the Text," 126; and Landow, Hypertext 2.0, 49-89.  [Back]

10.   Ong, Orality and Literacy, 78-138.  [Back]

11.   Ong, Orality and Literacy, 81.  [Back]

12.   Camille, Michael. "Philological Iconoclasm," 371-401. See also Camille's "Sensations of the Page," 33-53.  [Back]

13.   See Ivins, Prints and Visual Communication, for his groundbreaking survey of how the printed image affected learning, knowledge and thought.  [Back]

14.   Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution, 192 ff.  [Back]

15.   McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy, 185.  [Back]

16.   Kleinman, "The Gutenberg Promise," 66 ff.  [Back]

17.   Kleinman, "The Gutenberg Promise," 85.  [Back]

18.   Bolter and Grusin, Remediation 20-31.  [Back]

19.   Febvre and Martin, The Coming of the Book, 29. Cf. Clanchy, "Looking Back," 8: "the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw more of the Middle Ages than had ever been available to anyone in the Middle Ages." For a discussion of the text selection of early printers, see Goldschmidt, Medieval Texts. For other discussions, see Blake, Manuscript to Print," and Crick, "The Art of the Unprinted."  [Back]

20.   Goldschmidt, Medieval Texts, 74.  [Back]

21.   For an introduction to the first Anglo-Saxon scholars, see Graham, "Anglo-Saxon Studies: Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries." For more specific studies, see the various essays collected in Graham, The Recovery of Old English; Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 35-50; Clement, "The Beginnings of Printing in Anglo-Saxon"; Lucas, "From Politics to Practicalities"; and Robinson, "Dark Speech."  [Back]

22.   Robinson, "Dark Speech," 1080 and 1064. See also Christie, "The Image of the Letter," 137-140; Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 39-40; Lucas, "A Testimonye of Verye Ancient Tyme," 163-65; Lucas, "From Politics to Practicalities," 28-29; Lutz, "The Study of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," 1-6; and Clement, "The Beginnings of Printing in Anglo-Saxon," 206-208.  [Back]

23.   Qtd. in Pulsiano, "William L'isle," 182.  [Back]

24.   Christie, "The Image of the Letter," 138. For a similar argument concerning the work of the eighteenth-century Anglo-Saxonist Elizabeth Elbstob, see Sutherland, "Editing for a New Century," 228.  [Back]

25.   "Quorum sane lectio & veteris tibi lingu{ae}, ac quondam domestic{ae} memoriam renouabit"; ctd. and trans. in Lucas, "A Testimonye of Verye Ancient Tyme," 28 and n. 2.  [Back]

26.   Clement, "The Beginnings of Printing in Anglo-Saxon," 206.  [Back]

27.   Clement, "The Beginnings of Printing in Anglo-Saxon," 207-208; cf. Bland, "The Appearance of the Text," 100 ff.  [Back]

28.   See Bland, "The Appearance of the Text," for a detailed discussion of such strategies. Cf. Lucas, "From Politics to Practicalities," 34-42, and Kleinman, "The Gutenberg Promise," 81-82.  [Back]

29.   Lucas, "From Politics to Practicalities," 37-38.  [Back]

30.   Cf. McGillivray, "Towards a Post-Critical Edition," 180-181.  [Back]

31.   Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 45; Graham, "Anglo-Saxon Studies," 421-425; and Robinson, "Dark Speech," 1062-1064 and 1075ff.  [Back]

32.   Lee, "Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms Laud Misc 381."  [Back]

33.   Graham, "Anglo-Saxon Studies," 421.  [Back]

34.   Galbraith, The St. Alban's Chronicle, xi. See also Robinson, "Dark Speech," 1077 and n. 74. Robinson also notes, "The seemingly haphazard inclusiveness of the Parkerian editions, the willingness to fill all textual gaps with material pirated from other texts and even other chroniclers, has confused or infuriated those [modern] editors who have run up against Parker's assertion . . .that he has places his manuscript exemplars in Corpus Christie to be seen by anyone who wants proof that nothing has been added or removed from the original" (1079).  [Back]

35.   Cf. Crick, "The Art of the Unprinted," who studies the "script-print interface" and examines the continuation of scribal practices in antiquarian's work into the seventeenth century, as well as Blake, "Manuscript to Print," 411-418, and Chartier, The Culture of Print, 2-3. For a particular case study of the scribal practices of one early Anglo-Saxonist, see Graham, "John Joscelyn."  [Back]

36.   Christie, "The Image of the Letter," at 129.  [Back]

37.   Clement, "The Beginnings of Printing in Anglo-Saxon," 193-195; Lutz, "The Study of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle"; and Graham, "Anglo-Saxon Studies," 423 ff.  [Back]

38.   Lowe, "William Somner," 281-300; Lerer, "The Anglo-Saxon Pindar"; Lutz, "The Study of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," 40-72; Graham, "Anglo-Saxon Studies," 426 ff., Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 50-57.  [Back]

39.   See Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 50-95 for a sustained study of the origin and then far-reaching influence of Germanic philology and then the later philological studies in modern Anglo-Saxon studies.  [Back]

40.   Bland, "The Appearance of the Text," 126 and Plumer, "The Construction of Structure," 244. Cf. Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 45-46, and Christie, "The Image of the Letter," 136-37, for respective discussions of the early forces towards standardization and regularity of Old English in movable type, and Rider, "Shaping Information," 43 ff. for a more general discussion of the such standardization in print technology.  [Back]

41.   Gibson, "Literacy, Paradigm, and Paradox," 6.  [Back]

42.   See Bland, "The Appearance of the Text," esp. 101, 117, 126 For an analogous discussion of the modern typography of Middle English, see Edwards, "Representing the Middle English Manuscript."  [Back]

43.   Lerer, "The Anglo-Saxon Pindar," 37.  [Back]

44.   For a similar case, see Kees Dekker's catalogue of printed sources used by Francis Junius for his Old English Dictionary, "That Most Elaborate One of Fr. Junius," 323-336.  [Back]

45.   Lerer "The Anglo-Saxon Pindar," 29, 59-61; Graham, "Anglo-Saxon Studies," 429.  [Back]

46.   Kemble, xxiv; qtd. in Prescott, "The Electronic Beowulf and Digital Restoration," 185 and in Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 63.  [Back]

47.   See Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 57-58 for similar, more recent examples of Kemble's sentiment.  [Back]

48.   Franzten, Desire for Origins, 197-198.  [Back]

49.   Robinson, The Editing of Old English, 37; McGann, "The Rationale of Hypertext," 20.  [Back]

50.   Cf. Robinson, The Editing of Old English, 3-24; and Kiernan, "Alfred the Great's Burnt Boethius," 20-21. Kiernan's comments are particularly pointed: "Although they do provide punctuation, glossaries, explanatory notes, and the like, the existing modern editions are remarkably unhelpful guides to reading this particular manuscript."  [Back]

51.   Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation.  [Back]

52.   Kiernan, "Alfred the Great's Burnt Boethius," 20ff.  [Back]

53.   Bush, "As We May Think," 101.  [Back]

54.   Lerer, "The Anglo-Saxon Pindar," 38, n. 34.  [Back]

55.   Kleinman, "The Gutenberg Promise," 81, emphasis added.  [Back]

56.   Discussed in Moulthrop, "You Say You Want a Revolution," 93. For McLuhan's discussion of hot and cool media, see Understanding Media.  [Back]

57.   Benjamin, Reflections, 78.  [Back]

58.   Bolter and Grusin, Remediation, 33-34.  [Back]

59.   The terminology is Jerome McGann's; see his "What is Critical Editing?"  [Back]

60.   On medieval and early modern punctuation, see Parkes, Pause and Effect. See Plumer's contrasting of the considerably different forms of the first three lines of Beowulf from Frederick Klaeber's nineteenth-century edition and Laurence Nowell's sixteenth-century transcription for a brief but cogent example of such "shock of the new" ("The Construction of Structure," 244-245), and then her careful charting of the evolving editorial drift of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scholarship towards such modern conventions, with especial attention paid to lineation and capitalization (245 ff.).  [Back]

61.   L.P. Harvey, qtd. in Mitchell, "The Dangers of Disguise," 387.  [Back]

62.   Mitchell "The Dangers of Disguise"; Stanley, "Some Observations on the A3 Lines in Beowulf"; and Godden, "Old English."  [Back]

63.   Mitchell, "The Dangers of Disguise," 399.  [Back]

64.   Mitchell, "The Dangers of Disguise," 402-412.  [Back]

65.   Szarmach and Scragg, The Editing of Old English, 3. Szarmach takes the notion of conjectural emendation from Michael Lapidge ("On the Emendation of Texts," 53-67 of the same volume), who does not apply it to editorial punctuation, but rather to the necessary correction of scribal error ("medieval scribes were human and therefore fallible, and the texts which they transmitted could, when in obvious error and probably on other occasions also, scarcely represent what the author had written" (53-54). Putting aside the weary debate of authorial intention, I would like to suggest that such practices as modern punctuation may also be classified as "conjectural emendation," as they too often count as best guesses with regards to syntax and grammar (cf. Scragg's comments, 300-301). For the continuation of such debates surrounding the editing of Old English in the 1980's and 90's, see the wide range of essays included in Szarmach and Scragg, The Editing of Old English, especially Lees, "Whose Text Is It Anyway"; Doane, "Editing Old English Oral/Written Texts"; and Scragg, "Postscript: Quo Vadis, Editio?"  [Back]

66.   Robinson, The Editing of Old English, 42. See Robinson, 7-8 for a discussion of the bodily labor involved in Old English technology of writing; see also Ong, Orality and Literacy, 94-96.  [Back]

67.   Robinson, The Editing of Old English, 3. See also O'Brien O'Keefe, "Editing and the Material Text."  [Back]

68.   Camille, "Sensations of the Page," 44. See also Nichols, "Philology and Its Discontents," and Nichols, "Philology in a Manuscript Culture" for similar materialist concerns in what has been termed the "New Philology."  [Back]

69.   Indeed, in my reading of The Dream of the Rood presented later in Virtually Anglo-Saxon, as well as in the readings of many of the critics I cite there, no need was felt to consult the Vercelli Book or facsimiles thereof. See also Rumble "Paleography and the Editing of Old English Texts," 39-43.  [Back]

70.   Robinson, The Editing of Old English, 25.  [Back]

71.   McGillivray, "Towards a Post-Critical Edition," 175.  [Back]

72.   Cf. Frantzen, Desire for Origins, 66-68; see also Patterson, Negotiating the Past, 77-113, for a detailed discussion of how different schools of textual editing of medieval texts all, in the end, contribute to a distinctively modern and subjective construction of the medieval expression.  [Back]

73.   Parallel editions in print remain an option, of course, but print still severely limits such efforts. Two parallel texts are one thing; a dozen or more is another. Cf. McGillivray, "Towards a Post-Critical Edition, 184 and n. 18.  [Back]

74.   Robinson, The Editing of Old English, 41.  [Back]

75.   Cf. Robinson, The Editing of Old English, 38: "To expect a medieval copyist (or head of a scriptorium) to submit himself mindlessly to his exemplar and refrain from introducing anything of himself into his performance would have seemed as unreasonable as to expect that a minstrel should suppress his creative talents when giving an oral rendition of a ballad or romance"; and Pasternack, The Textuality of Old English Poetry, 27: "Because of the natures of books and libraries in Anglo-Saxon England, readers would not have compared versions as we might today. . . .the whole mentality of using vernacular and reading verse calls for each text to be taken as its own expression."  [Back]

76.   McGillivray, "Towards a Post-Critical Edition," 181.  [Back]

77.   Robertson, The New Renaissance, 19-22.  [Back]

78.   Robertson, The New Renaissance, 22-24.  [Back]

79.   Bolter, Writing Space, 40. Cf. Provenzo, Beyond the Gutenberg Galaxy, 260-261; Brody, "The Medium Is the Memory," 146; and Robertson, The New Renaissance, 112-113.  [Back]

80.   For introductions to the fluidity and variability of digital media, see Manovich, The Language of New Media, 36-48, and Landow, Hypertext 2.0, 33-48.  [Back]

81.   Cf. Ong, Orality and Literacy, 135; Duggan, "Some Unrevolutionary Aspects of Computer Editing"; McKitterick, Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order, 9 and 21.  [Back]

82.   Robinson, "Where We Are with Electronic Scholarly Editions," par. 5. See Johnson, "Digitizing the Middle Ages," for a representative (if understandable) call for standardization.  [Back]

83.   Robinson, Where We Are with Electronic Scholarly Editions," par. 21.  [Back]

84.   Cf. McGann, "The Rationale for Hypertext," 21-22.  [Back]

85.   For representative discussions, see Conner "Beyond ASPR"; and Deegan and Robinson, "The Electronic Edition."  [Back]

86.   Howe, "The New Millennium," 502.  [Back]

87.   McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy, 41; Ong, Orality and Literacy, 135-138; Bolter, Writing Space, 72-74; cf. Provenzo, 51-59.  [Back]

88.   See, among a number of others: McGillivray, "Towards a Post-Critical Edition"; Sperberg-McQueen, "Text in the Electronic Age"; Feinstein, "Hypertextuality and Chaucer"; Machan, "Chaucer's Poetry, Versioning, and Hypertext"; Brown and Valentine, "Networking in Medieval and Postmodern Cultures,"; and Driver, "Medieval Manuscript and Electronic Media"; Dickey, "Poem Descending a Staircase," 148-149; Grusin and Bolter, Remediation, 12.  [Back]

89.   Camille, "Sensations of the Page," 37-38, 45ff. Cf. Robinson, The Editing of Old English, 7-8.  [Back]

90.   Christie, 146; see "The Image of the Letter," 142 ff.  [Back]

91.   For rehearsals of this thesis, see the essays collected in Treharne and Swan, Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century.  [Back]


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