I’ve made coy references to my own pursuit of a digital project on this blog but now I’d like to share the details of my proposal as I look forward to beginning the hard work of figuring out how my ideas can become reality, albeit a digital one. (My apologies for the alliterative title but part of me is keen to actually use it once the website starts taking shape!)
As those of you who have read my blog and sat in class with me will already be aware, several key questions have arisen for me over the past weeks. How can we use digital tools to represent the multiplicity of material instantiations of what we know as a “text”? What visual and textual analysis tools are appropriate? How can scholars re-imagine the relationships between these instantiations beyond a progressive narrative of revision or a regressive narrative of originality? My intention is to pilot a new approach—what I am provisionally calling Poetic Palimpsests—by using a specific trio of poems by the little known British poet, John Temple, for whom relevant papers for one of his books are held in the Dodd Center.
Having digitized the multiplicity of instantiations of these three poems (with many thanks to the Dodd Center staff!), I wish to provide users of my digital project with the tools to manipulate these images and the associated text transcriptions in different ways, including juxtaposition and superimposition. I anticipate new understandings of the relationship between author and editor, as well as the various individuals and forces at work during the printing process, will be possible through this fluid text approach. For example, are galley proofs merely corrected by a poet or are they taken as an opportunity to further revise? How does publication in book and magazine format differ? I anticipate that I will be able to play with the materials as the archivist and suggest some initial conclusions in an introductory section of the resource while also inviting others to take these investigations further.
To give you a flavor of what I mean by “the multiplicity of material instantiations”, all three poems I have chosen are represented in authorial and press typescripts, corrected galley proofs and two published texts. There are also the typescript and published versions of one poem that appeared in a magazine, and typescripts sent by Jeremy Prynne to Andrew Crozier of the other two poems. Annotations abound.
I look forward to updating you all on my progress soon and hearing any suggestions for developing the project.