“Textual criticism,” wrote A. E. Housman, “is an aristocratic affair.” The argument presented by a scholarly edition can usually be usually be characterised as the vision of a lone editor or a very small group of editors. But is it possible or even desirable for an edition to present multiple—perhaps competing—arguments? The emerging model of the digital social edition promises to enable the presentation of differing interpretations and arguments—the varying perspectives of members of an editorial community—prompting us to reconsider some of our fundamental ideas about the form and function of scholarly editions. This talk will reflect on the practical and theoretical issues of applying digital tools and methods—including crowdsourcing and versioning—to the task of scholarly editing, with particular reference to Ossian Online, a new digital resource for James Macpherson’s Ossian poems (1760-73).
School of English, Drama, and Film Faculty Research Seminar, University College Dublin