Cover: A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction, from Harvard University PressCover: A New Republic of Letters in HARDCOVER

A New Republic of Letters

Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction

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Product Details


$49.50 • £39.95 • €44.50

ISBN 9780674728691

Publication Date: 03/17/2014


256 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

7 halftones


So far as such a term has traction and is not rejected by the author himself, this is a ‘digital humanities’ book from an eminent figure at the forefront of digitization movements. The work, however, nonetheless (but unsurprisingly) espouses a return to a consideration of materiality; it juxtaposes romantic poetry with XML markup; it aligns histories of the material book with Nietzsche; it notes that in the world of digitization, the book and the codex remain… McGann’s book should become crucial reading for anyone who wishes to see what our electronic future needs to look like, if we are to have a past.—Martin Paul Eve, Alexandria

McGann critiques encoded writing and digital humanities and asks how electronic formats can handle diverse literature from a scholarly point of view. His style reveals a well-read thinker who examines the act of the reader on the page with asides and constant allusions to other writers such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Marianne Moore, and Friedrich Nietzsche. He approaches his thesis from the angle of philology, which he asserts remains the best position because it offers perspectives on human production and socially constructed artifacts of all types and allows for a culturally relativistic attitude of those objects. He fully acknowledges that research libraries and archives, globally, are reformatting their collections into digital and suggests that our limited electronic tools open new doors for the humanities because there are no coded structures that represent a work’s historical ‘facticities.’… This book is for readers specifically attuned to the digital ‘crisis’ affecting humanities departments and related theoretical debates.—Jesse A. Lambertson, Library Journal (starred review)

This is an awe-inspiring work, courageous, ambitious, startling, and full of learning, wit, and even fun. It will surely be regarded as the major realization of the several strands of McGann’s distinguished career, and will be the single most significant contribution to the literature of memory and the archive in the early twenty-first century.—David Greetham, author of The Pleasures of Contamination: Evidence, Text, and Voice in Textual Studies

In a very plain sense, this is the book McGann has been writing his entire career; a book whose force of vision and depth of learned commitment make many so-called debates in digital humanities seem small by reconnecting both our momentary enthusiasms and our presentist anxieties with at least two centuries of programmatic continuity—philology, yes, but also poetry.—Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland

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