Making words, marking words

I am giving a class in which – contrarily to the classes I have given so far – I am the one doing most of the talking. The topic is vast: “Writers and their publishers”,  and I have 13 sessions of 90 minutes to go through it. It is separated in three periods: turn of the 18th to the 19th, 19th, and 20th/21st century. I am having some trouble finishing the chapter on the time around 1800 for several reasons. First, it is the period I know best. Then I want to pin all the important knots that we will roll out in the following sessions. And finally, it is always difficult to give an overview of historical phenomena without examples, and not to get lost into your examples.

Books have piled up on my desk at home, I am transporting them to my office, at least 4 every day, and then back home at the end of my work day, where they pile up again with the other ones. And there are books that I have to consult in the library: all those that deal with the history of books are reading room-only. Continue reading “Making words, marking words”

On text genesis, hot water and historical depth

While preparing my presentation for next Wednesday (which I announced under the emphatic title “The digital methods facing the challenge of text genesis”), I had to realize once more how difficult it is to think about text genesis in German the same way that I do in French or even in English. Even to me, it seems weird that the language in which I think seem to modify the questions themselves as well as their relevance. When I read definitions and analyzes written by the grey-haired popes of the discipline (as I did this morning), it all seems simple. This tradition and that tradition, textual criticism, philology, bibliography. They have been through it in the 70s already, it has all cooled down since. As for me, I was born in the 70s and I still find the water quite hot. Still, how can I pretend to any depth when I have no history? Continue reading “On text genesis, hot water and historical depth”