Creative Undoing and Textual Scholarship: A Rapprochement Between Genetic Criticism and Scholarly Editing (CUTS)

In the past few decades, the disciplines of textual scholarship and genetic criticism have insisted on their respective differences. Nonetheless, a rapprochement would be mutually beneficial.

The proposed research 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 proposed research 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 the marginalia, notes and manuscripts of an author whose work is paradigmatic for genetic criticism: Samuel Beckett. His manuscripts will serve as a case study to determine the functions of creative undoing in the process of literary invention and its theoretical and practical implications for electronic scholarly editing and the genetic analysis of modern manuscripts. Extrapolating from this case study, the results are employed to tackle a topical issue in European textual scholarship.

The envisaged rapprochement between the disciplines of genetic criticism and textual scholarship is the core of this proposals endeavour to advance the state of the art in these disciplines by giving shape to a new orientation within scholarly editing