Textuality and Knowledge


By (author) Peter Shillingsburg

Hardback - £91.95

Publication date:

09 June 2017

Length of book:

240 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271078502

In literary investigation all evidence is textual, dependent on preservation in material copies. Copies, however, are vulnerable to inadvertent and purposeful change. In this volume, Peter Shillingsburg explores the implications of this central concept of textual scholarship.

Through thirteen essays, Shillingsburg argues that literary study depends on documents, the preservation of works, and textual replication, and he traces how this proposition affects understanding. He explains the consequences of textual knowledge (and ignorance) in teaching, reading, and research—and in the generous impulses behind the digitization of cultural documents. He also examines the ways in which facile assumptions about a text can lead one astray, discusses how differing international and cultural understandings of the importance of documents and their preservation shape both knowledge about and replication of works, and assesses the dissemination of information in the context of ethics and social justice. In bringing these wide-ranging pieces together, Shillingsburg reveals how and why meaning changes with each successive rendering of a work, the value in viewing each subsequent copy of a text as an original entity, and the relationship between textuality and knowledge.

Featuring case studies throughout, this erudite collection distills decades of Shillingsburg’s thought on literary history and criticism and appraises the place of textual studies and scholarly editing today.

“There are big issues at stake in this restless symposium of a book, for it is brave and honest. Every research library serving the humanities needs to order a copy of it, and textual scholars will want to do so as well.”

—Paul Eggert, Textual Cultures