Electronic Editions and the Needs of Readers

in Critical Survey
Author: John Lavagnino1
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Although very few electronic editions with any scholarly pretensions exist today, there is already a dominant idea of what an electronic edition ought to be. The idea is that an electronic edition ought to be an archive. It should offer diplomatic transcriptions of documents, and facsimiles of those documents. And it should avoid many of the things that scholarly editions have traditionally done, particularly the creation of critically-edited texts by means of editorial emendation. On this view, what readers need is access to original sources – to as many of them as possible, and avoiding as much as possible the shaping and selection that editors have traditionally engaged in. Although a lot of archives in the world were created and shaped to make specific points, this kind of archive-edition is not conceived of as doing that: it is instead imagined as a neutral witness.


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