Textual Theory and the Arts
This seminar is one the four core courses developed by the campus-wide Textual Studies Program. Course credit will count toward the Textual Studies Ph. D. track in all participating departments and may count toward the Critical Theory concentration in Comparative Literature. This course is open to all graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Students completing this course will develop basic skills of literary scholarship (the use of literary archives; aspects of physical bibliography and the printing and production of books; scholarly editing; manuscript-based textual criticism) which will be of help for other courses.
The goal of this course is to challenge the assumption that textual theory and practice occupy a domain separate from literary theory and criticism, and from other disciplines such as art history, architecture, music or film studies. Confronting this territorial fallacy, the course will show that developments in contemporary theory have influenced, and at times radically altered, the direction of textual studies; and conversely, that textual scholars have often anticipated and conceptualized the speculations of theorists in intellectually provocative ways. The first part of the course will familiarize students with major theories of textual criticism and editorial traditions that address the concepts of authorship and authorial intention; the distinction between document, text, work and the physical book; "ideal" texts and transcendental hermeneutics; the relationship of biographical and sociological contexts to texts, and of creators to producers of literature; and the functions of readerships. It will also document contemporary controversies in textual editing (such as the challenge posed by Jerome McGann to established canons of editing), as well as debates about the editing of particular texts in Renaissance (especially Shakespeare), romantic (especially Keats and Mary Shelley) and modern literature (especially Joyce's Ulysses). Students completing this course will learn to scrutinize the texts they are using and develop awareness of the editorial and cultural ideologies that inform them. Assignments include brief response papers to selected readings and a final essay on one of the following subjects: a particular topic in textual theory; a critical edition reading text (with editorial rationale) of a poem or short story; a review of an exisiting edition and of controversies surrounding it; the textual history, transmission and alteration of a given literary or artistic work.
The second part of the course will explore the relevance of textual theory to the study of art and film adaptations of literary works, focusing on Mary Shelley‟s Frankenstein. The course will involve the participation of librarians, visiting faculty, and two distinguished external visitors who will spend a week in Seattle, offering two specialized seminars and a public lecture. They are: Professor Marta Werner, recipient of the distinguished Fredson Bowers prize in textual editing and author of books, electronic archives and editions on Emily Dickinson, Hannah Weiner, Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne; and Michelangelo Zaccarello, Professor of Italian Philology at the University of Verona, recipient of the 2011 Editor‟s Prize awarded by the Society of Textual Scholarship and author of numerous books and articles on Dante‟s Comedy, early Italian texts, and Renaissance authors such as Torquato Tasso and Luigi Pulci.