Digital Scholarly Editing for the Genetic Orientation. The Making of a Genetic Edition of Samuel Beckett's Works

Date: 11 December 2015

Venue: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus, Hof van Liere, Frederik de Tassiszaal - Prinsstraat 13 - 2000 Antwerpen

Time: 3:00 PM - 5:30 PM

PhD candidate: Wout Dillen

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Dirk Van Hulle

Short description: Doctoraatsverdediging Wout Dillen - Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte, Departement Letterkunde


As part of the ERC project ‘Creative Undoing and Textual Scholarship (CUTS): A Rapprochement between Genetic Criticism and Scholarly Editing’, the goal of this dissertation is to help build a bridge between textual scholarship and genetic criticism. As the first chapter of this dissertation explains, the foundations of that bridge were already there. Although they all started out by insisting on their individual differences, the many approaches to the criticism and genesis of texts have in the last decades gradually started to focus more on their similarities, as the rise of pluralistic models for text demonstrates. As a result, we have witnessed a growing mutual understanding of and sympathy for the diverging theories and practices different traditions of scholarly editing have to offer.

But although we are moving in the right direction, that does not mean we are there just yet. There still exists a noticeable tension between textual scholarship and genetic criticism that needs to be resolved before the rapprochement between the two can be complete. On the one hand, genetic critics often disapprove of the methods of textual scholars because of the subservient role they assign to manuscript research in their criticism. On the other hand, textual scholars may back away from genetic criticism because it obstinately refuses to commit to a specific reading of the work in the form of a critically edited text. This dissertation aims to demonstrate that the joint theories and practices of textual scholarship and genetic criticism can be usefully employed to create a (Digital) Scholarly Edition for the genetic orientation, which can in turn inform new, critical editions pertaining to a wide range of different orientations to text. 

The first part of this dissertation focuses on the theoretical aspect of this problem, by assessing how the digital medium as a publication format for scholarly editions has instigated a reassessment of the theory and practice of Textual Criticism in general, and Genetic Criticism in particular. The second part of the dissertation tackles the problem’s practical side, using the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project ( — developed at the University of Antwerp's Centre for Manuscript Genetics) as a case study.

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