By Jerome McGann
A manifesto for the arts within the electronic age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the background of texts, including the tools through which they're preserved and made to be had for interpretation, are the overriding matters of humanist research within the twenty-first century. idea and philosophy, that have grounded the arts for many years, now not suffice as an highbrow framework. Jerome McGann proposes we glance as an alternative to philology--a self-discipline which has been out of style for plenty of many years yet which types the worries of electronic humanities with astounding fidelity.
For centuries, books were the right way to protect and transmit wisdom. yet as libraries and museums digitize their data and readers abandon paperbacks for pill desktops, electronic media are changing books because the repository of cultural reminiscence. whereas either the challenge of the arts and its conventional modes of scholarship and important examine are an analogous, the electronic setting is using disciplines to paintings with new instruments that require significant, and sometimes very tough, institutional alterations. Now greater than ever, students have to get better the idea and approach to philological research if the arts are to fulfill their perennial commitments. Textual and editorial scholarship, frequently marginalized as a narrowly technical area, can be made a concern of humanists' attention.
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Additional resources for A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction
We create machineries to help us remember—the arts, or rather the artifactures, of memory. Libraries, museums, digital environments. Families. Nations. Ceremonies. No question but these machines are unreliable and often destructive. And they get out of hand, some dangerously out of hand. The story of the Tower of Babel and the myth of Faust are ways of reflecting on memory machines that have gone out of control. Both are philological reflections, the one from a theological view of the world, the other from a philosophical and scientific one.
That history has much to teach us now. Our Textual Condition has forged an extensive record of its own making—which is to say, a process of critical reflection in manuscript and print that is itself part of the character, shape, and meaning of the history. Whether we work with bibliographical or with digital technology, scholars want an optimal access to and understanding of our documentary materials. In this respect we can see, at our historical moment, the relevance of philology and its textual critical foundation.
II Research aiming to produce “not the known, but the unknown”; and a program of such research, institutionally located. That is what Lyotard wanted. He was thinking critically about minds like August Boeckh’s, of course, but also of Marx and Feuerbach. That’s why his book proposed not simply to understand the world of knowledge production, but to change it. His projected polytechnic institute would transform the works 38 from history to method and days of the Paris VIII philosophy faculty into an exemplary, and most of all an institutional, Novum Organum Scientiarum.