A Hypertext History of the Transmission of Coleridge's "Christabel," 1800-1816[Notice]

  • Chris Koenig-Woodyard

…plus d’informations

  • Chris Koenig-Woodyard
    St Edmund Hall, Oxford

"What will the critic and theorist of literature do about hypertext?" asks George Landow in Hyper/Text/Theory. The answer that Landow offers to his own question--"Write in hypertext itself"--reads as both an abbreviated decree and entreaty. What the literary scholar will do about hypertext is to do hypertext, is to embrace and apply the medium of hypertext--in its simplest computer form, a system of electronic links and nodes (or units of text)--to their critical and interpretive activities. (Or, as Derrida would have it, lovers will now find themselves writing on-line hypermedia letters, with a requisite rendezvous in a MUD--a Multi-User Dungeon.) Rising to the occasion of Landow's call to "write in hypertext itself," however, is a task of formidable theoretical and practical complexity. The difficulties of achieving this task is a governing concern among the panellists of the 1996 MLA panel "The Canon and the Web: Reconfiguring Romanticism in the Information Age," and the 1996 NASSR Bruce Graver-led round-table discussion "Electronic Texts and Textuality. A theme often identified by panellists of both sessions is that the application of hypertext to literary studies necessitates a re-conception of the editorial and critical activities of literary scholars. Their reports of working with hypermedia and hypertext literary projects reveal a new scholarship--an electronic scholarship with a bibliographic concern that centres on textual variation, on how multiple witnesses of a literary work can be presented in an electronic environment. It is in the framework of several of these panellists' comments on treating a multi-versioned literary work that the groundwork can be laid for a discussion of how the application of hypertext technology (re)shapes scholarly activities--particularly the study of the transmission of a literary work. A hypertext history of the transmission of Samuel Coleridge's "Christabel" (1816) from 1800 to 1816 serves as a model with which to explore the theoretical and practical issues at stake in working with a multi-versioned literary work in hypertext form. Internal navigation of this article is governed by the following series of button links, a version of which is located in every node The "Contents" link leads to a table of contents, listing all of the major nodes in this hypertext. The "Tree" and "Chronology" links lead, respectively, to a "Transmission Tree"--a spider-web overview of the nodes that comprise the transmission history of "Christabel," 1800-1816--and to a chronological list of the events referred in the transmission history. A rationale for the "Transmission Tree" is incorporated into a later discussion of the relationship between hypertext and the study of a literary work's transmission.

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