Text Comparison and Digital Creativity
Edited by Wido van Peursen, Leiden University, Ernst D. Thoutenhoofd, Groningen University, and Adriaan van der Weel, Leiden University
In fourteen thoughtful essays this book reports and reflects on the many changes that a digital workflow brings to the world of original texts and textual scholarship, and the effect on scholarly communication practices. The spread of digital technology across philology, linguistics and literary studies suggests that text scholarship is taking on a more laboratory-like image. The ability to sort, quantify, reproduce and report text through computation would seem to facilitate the exploration of text as another type of quantitative scientific data. However, developing this potential also highlights text analysis and text interpretation as two increasingly separated sub-tasks in the study of texts. The implied dual nature of interpretation as the traditional, valued mode of scholarly text comparison, combined with an increasingly widespread reliance on digital text analysis as scientific mode of inquiry raises the question as to whether the reflexive concepts that are central to interpretation – individualism, subjectivity – are affected by the anonymised, normative assumptions implied by formal categorisations of text as digital data.