Introduction

The Centre for Manuscript Genetics (CMG, spokesperson: Dirk Van Hulle) is part of the UAntwerp Literature Department's research group ACDC (Antwerp Centre for Digital humanities and literary Research). Its research focus is the study of modern manuscripts and writing processes, especially comparative genetic criticism, digital scholarly editing and the analysis of manuscripts by authors such as Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, Charles Darwin, Willem Elsschot. The Centre’s aim is to play an intermediary role between the various editorial traditions in Europe and is actively involved in the European Society for Textual Scholarship (ESTS).

The CMG also hosts the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (directed by Dirk Van Hulle and Mark Nixon). The first module, an electronic edition of Samuel Beckett's Stirrings Still / Soubresauts and Comment dire / what is the word (edited by Dirk Van Hulle and Vincent Neyt) was launched in June 2011 during the interantional conference "Samuel Beckett out of the Archive," at the University of York, together with the first corresponding volume: Samuel Beckett's Stirrings Still / Soubresauts and Comment dire / what is the word (Brussels: University Press of Antwerp, 2011). 

The European Research Council recently awarded an ERC Starting Grant to Dirk Van Hulle, to further develop the Centre for Manuscript Genetics. The project (2013-2017) is called Creative Undoing and Textual Scholarship (CUTS): A Rapprochement between Genetic Criticism and Scholarly Editing. Its research hypothesis is that a rapprochement between the disciplines of scholarly editing and genetic criticism would be mutually beneficial. The project endeavours to innovate scholarly editing with the combined forces of these two disciplines. Since genetic criticism has objected to the subservient role of manuscript research in textual criticism, the project suggests a reversal of roles: instead of employing manuscript research with a view to making an edition, an electronic edition can be designed in such a way that it becomes a tool for manuscript research and genetic criticism. The research hypothesis is that such a rapprochement can be achieved by means of an approach to textual variants that values creative undoing (ways of de-composing a text as an integral part of composition and literary invention) more than has hitherto been the case in textual scholarship. This change of outlook will be tested by means of a digital edition and genetic analysis of six major works by the Irish author Samuel Beckett: three novels (Molloy; Malone meurt / Malone Dies; L’Innommable / The Unnamable) and three plays (En attendant Godot / Waiting for Godot; Fin de partie / Endgame; Krapp’s Last Tape / La dernière bande), as part of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project.