Committee on Scholarly Editions

Annual Report to the Executive Council

of the Modern Language Association

September 15, 2003

 

 

Background:

            The Committee on Scholarly Editions (CSE) is a standing committee of the MLA, created in September 1976 to replace the advisory board of the Center for Editions of American Authors (CEAA). As the change in name implied, the CSE was charged with fostering high standards not just for scholarly editing of American authors, but for scholarly editing of any author in any language or historical period embraced by the MLA. From the start, but especially under its three previous chairs (Jo Ann Boydston, 1988 - 1992, Gary A. Stringer, 1992 - 1996, and Robert Hirst, 1996 - 2001) the committee has steadily but cautiously enlarged the range of editions (and periods and languages) for which it was willing and able to provide professional advice. In the recent past the committee has dealt with editions in English ranging from The Anatomie of Abuses, multiple volumes of the works of George Santayana, Willa Cather's Alexander's Bridge, the Cornell edition of the works of William Wordsworth, the complete letters of Henry James, and Thomas Carlyle's Past and Present. . It has also reviewed editions of works in romance languages, including a number of works by Luis Vélez de Guevara. Most recently, the Committee has substantially revised its guidelines and its guiding questions for vettors, to take electronic scholarly editions into account, and it has instituted new procedures to ensure continuity of process across the limited terms of Committee members and chairs.

Current Membership:

            The committee normally has nine members: at present, one of those seats is empty, because of the resignation of Jack Zipes, appointed last year by the Executive Council. The current members of the committee are:

            Carol Bemis, W.W. Norton (2003-2007)

Nancy Joe Dyer, Texas A&M University (2002-2006)

Morris Eaves, University of Rochester (2001-2005)

Margaret Ezell, Texas A&M University (2001-2005) - co-chair

Robert Hirst, University of California, Berkeley (2000-2004)

Don Reiman, University of Delaware (2002-2006)

Paul Szarmach, Western Michigan University (2003-2007)

John Unsworth, University of Virginia (2000-2004) - co-chair

[vacant position] (2002-2006)

MLA liaison: David Nicholls

MLA staff assistant: Sonia Kane

 

A separate document is attached, with nominations for the vacant slot. We hope the Executive Council will consider these at its next opportunity.

 

Activities of the Committee:

            From January of 2002 until June of 2003, Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe and John Unsworth served as co-chairs of the Committee on Scholarly Editions, following the five-year term of Bob Hirst. In June of 2003, Professor O'Brien O'Keeffe rotated off the Committee, having served with distinction. The Committee wishes to thank her for her service, and we commend her to the Executive Council. Also in June, following a new procedure approved last year by the Executive Council, the Committee appointed Margaret Ezell as incoming co-chair. Professor Ezell, who is in her third year on the committee, will serve one year as chair-in-training and then, when the current chair (John Unsworth) rotates off the Committee in 2004, she will take over as chair, and a new incoming co-chair will be selected. This new procedure is intended to ensure continuity in the Committee's work and provide chairs with a period of training and acclimation.

            In September of 2002, the CSE began to use a new review database currently hosted at the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. This database, which is web-accessible, has reduced mailing costs for the MLA (since it presents reviews and supporting materials online, and allows Committee members to vote online as well) and it provides the co-chairs, who act as review managers, with some convenient tools for finding potential reviewers, tracking reviews in progress and the like. It has not always been easy for Committee members to use, however, and the voting procedure is cumbersome and error-prone. Unsworth, who originally designed the database, has since moved from the University of Virginia to the University of Illinois, and so the database needs to move to the MLA's own server some time soon: that will provide an opportunity to reconsider the database's function and to make some improvements to it. During its 2003 meeting, the Committee agreed that it would be best to limit the function of the database to record-keeping for the chairs, relieving committee members of having to use it for voting. For the time being all internal Committee documents are linked to Unsworth's web page at Virginia (http://www.iath.virginia.edu/~jmu2m/cse/). At that same site, Unsworth has also maintains an email list for Committee communications, archived for web browsing, but starting in September 2003, the email list will move to MLA's server; in November, the Committee's working (private) web site will follow, and by March we hope to have the more modest record-keeping database established on the MLA server as well.

            Also in 2003, work has continued on the Mellon-funded essay collection that is being co-sponsored by the Committee on Scholarly Editions and the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium, host of the most widely used standard for electronic editions of literary texts. The volume is being co-edited by Lou Burnard (TEI), Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe (CSE), and John Unsworth (CSE and TEI). The MLA publications committee has approved the prospectus, and the manuscript is now scheduled for completion in October of 2003, with publication coming about a year later. The volume (called Electronic Textual Editing) will include the CSE's revised guidelines for scholarly editions, a revision designed to accommodate electronic editions. This revision has been under way, in one form or another, since 1995, and that process was recapitulated in some detail in last year's annual report. At last December's MLA convention, the CSE hosted two sessions on the revised guidelines, and in the spring newsletter solicited comments from MLA members. A copy of the current state of the draft guidelines is attached: note that in addition to revising the guidelines, the Committee has added a glossary of terms (written by Bob Hirst) and an annotated bibliography of key works in textual editing (compiled by Dirk van Hulle at the request of the volume's editors). We hope that the revision and these additions will make the practice of textual editing more accessible to newcomers, more explicit for vettors,

            In December of 2003, the CSE will sponsor two sessions at the MLA's annual convention. The first of these will be a roundtable discussion on "The Changing Face of Scholarly Editions." Professor Ezell will chair the session, and participants will include Linda Bree (Cambridge University Press), Gary Stringer (Univ. of Southern Mississippi), Evelyn B. Tribble (Univ. of Otago), and James Barry Fitzmaurice (Northern Arizona University). The session will be held on Saturday, December 27th, from 8:45-10 a.m.. The second session, to be held from 3:30-4:45 pm on December 28, will address "The Physique of the Text" and will be chaired by Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe (Notre Dame), with panelists Randall Lous Anderson (Blue Earth, MN), Melanie Claire Hawthorne (Texas A&M), and Cynthia Wall (University of Virginia).

            During the year from September 2002 to September 2003, the Committee has overseen six completed reviews of scholarly editions and initiated reviews of another seven editions.


Editions Approved:

 

1          Author:                       Willa Cather

            Title:                           One of Ours

            Editors of this title:     Susan Rosowski

            CSE Inspector:            Elizabeth Witherell

            Review Manager:        John Unsworth

            Status:                         Approved, Nov 24, 2002

 

2          Author:                       George Santayana

            Title:                           Letters, Book 4 (part of Vol. 5 of Collected Works)

            Editors of this title:     Marianne Wokeck

            CSE Inspector:            David J. Nordloh

            Review Manager:        Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe   

            Status:                         Approved, Jan 14, 2003

 

3          Author:                       William James

            Title:                           The Correspondence of William James, Vol. 11

            Editors of this title:     Elizabeth Berkeley

            CSE Inspector:            Greg Zacharias

            Review Manager:        John Unsworth

            Status:                         Approved, Feb. 4, 2003

 

4          Author:                       Luis Velez de Guevara

            Title:                           El espejo del mundo

            Editors of this title:     George Peale

            CSE Inspector:            Robert Fiore

            Review Manager:        Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe   

            Status:                         Approved Feb 19, 2003

 

5          Author:                       William Wordsworth 

            Title:                           The Cornell Wordsworth, Vol. 20

            Editors of this title:     Stephen Parrish

            CSE Inspector:            Theresa Kelley

            Review Manager:        Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe

            Status:                         Approved, April 25, 2003

 

6          Author:                       George Santayana

            Title:                           Letters Book 5 (part of Vol. 5 of Collected Works)

            Editors of this title:     Marianne Wokeck

            CSE Inspector:            Robert Hirst

            Review Manager:        John Unsworth

            Status:                         Approved, May 1, 2003

 

 

7          Author:                       Thomas Carlyle

            Title:                           Past and Present

            Editors of this title:     Chris VandenBossche

            CSE Inspector:            Dale Kramer

            Review Manager:        John Unsworth

            Status:                         Approved, September 1, 2003

 

8          Author:                       Luis Velez de Guevara

            Title:                           El Aguila del Agua

            Editors of this title:     George Peale

            CSE Inspector:            Margaret Greer

            Review Manager:        Margaret Ezell

            Status:                         Approved, September 1, 2003

 

 

Reviews in Progress:

 

1          Author:                       Willa Cather

            Title:                           Alexander's Bridge

            Editors of this title:     Susan Rosowski

            CSE Inspector:            Richard Bucci

            Review Manager:        John Unsworth

            Status:                         In progress (voting)

 

2          Author:                       Luis Velez de Guevara

            Title:                           El cerco del Penon de Velez

            Editors of this title:     George Peale

            CSE Inspector:            Edward Friedman

            Review Manager:        Margaret Ezell

            Status:                         In progress (voting)

 

3          Author:                       Daniel Defoe

            Title:                           The Works of Daniel Defoe, Vols. 1-3

            Editors of this title:     John Peters

            CSE Inspector:            J. Paul Hunter

            Review Manager:        John Unsworth

            Status:                         In progress

 

4          Author:                       George Santayana

            Title:                           Letters Books 6-8 (part of Vol. 5 of Collected Works)

            Editors of this title:     Marianne Wokeck

            CSE Inspector:            not yet assigned

            Review Manager:        Margaret Ezell

            Status:                         In progress

 

5          Author:                       Henry James

            Title:                           The Complete Letters, Vol 1 (parts 1 and 2)

            Editors of this title:     Greg Zacharias

            CSE Inspector:            David Chesnutt

            Review Manager:        John Unsworth

            Status:                         In progress