Where We Wish to Be
This project wants to have its cake and eat it too. In the long term it wishes to be able to present on this digital platform all the extant witnesses of Askew’s texts as presented by John Bale, including the censored ones. It would like to augment the presentation of the facsimiles (and their literatim transcriptions) with collation data of all extant copies. The Resources pages of the website do the work of the critical edition, providing commentary, bibliographies, chronologies and other data, especially compiling the biblical citations used in the texts, for user analysis, perhaps in small-scale topic-modelling projects. Answering question 3 in The Digital Scholarly Edition in the affirmative, there will also be a modern-spelling critical edition of the texts to provide an extra dimension to the diplomatic edition. The answer to question 4 is, however, problematic still. As the Home page outlines it, a simple attempt has been made to start the process. The PDF edition of the First Examinacyon does hope to avoid relegation to the ‘dank cellar of electronic texts:’ it is not of unknown provenance, it does not contain unknown corruptions, and it does not represent unidentified or misidentified versions.<fn>Shillingsburg, Gutenberg op. cit. Ch. 6 ‘The dank cellar of electronic texts.’ The points about unreliable electronic texts occur on p. 139.</fn> It also contains its own editorial note explaining methodology. When all transcriptions are complete, collation of witnesses will be done by Prabhed, a software developed by the School of Cultural Texts and Records, Jadavpur University, for Bichitra: Online Tagore Variorum (of which more below, or see the entry under ‘r’ and ‘t’ in the catalogue of digital scholarly editions mentioned in About). The version of Askew’s examinations printed in Foxe’s book, since it is represented comprehensively enough in The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online, will not be represented here, at least to begin with. However, when all the other objectives of the project are achieved, it might be interesting to be able to visually collate Foxe’s account with Bale’s. For the text of the Examinations in the 1563 edition in The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online website see here.
The challenges in this kind of project are several. Securing adequate institutional support, permissions for the reproduction of images, developing tools for presentation and analysis, all require time and labour. However, unlike in print editions, this edition will achieve its final goals only through the active engagement and participation of interested scholars which, in turn, can only be achieved through publication. Indeed, collaboration and tool development can very well lead to the shifting of the vision of the website that is outlined in The Digital Schoarly Edition above.<fn>See Elena Pierazzo, “A Rationale of Digital Documentary Editions,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 26, no. 4 (2011) 463–77, p. 475.</fn> As in any new venture, one can never be certain how the shape of the beast might shift with the inflow of new data, tools and perspectives.