Study Guide

Textual Criticism Timeline

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How It All Went Down

1904: The Textual Critic R. B. McKerrow coins the term "copy-text"

He did it in his introduction to his edited edition of the works of Thomas Nashe. McKerrow's invention of the term heralds the beginning of modern Textual Criticism.

1909: A. W. Pollard publishes Shakespeare Folios and Quartos: A Study in the Bibliography of Shakespeare's Plays

A milestone in Shakespeare studies and Textual Criticism, the publication of this book marks the arrival of a newer, slicker, and more rigorous type of Textual Criticism. It's Textual Criticism 2.0.

1914: R. B. McKerrow publishes An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students

This book became the Textual Criticism Bible. All the basics are here, folks.

1949: W. W. Greg's "The Rationale of Copy-Text" essay is published

Greg makes us rethink the whole notion of copy-text.

1964: Fredson Bowers publishes "Some Principles for Scholarly Editions of Nineteenth-Century American Authors"

Bowers announces that "the theory of copy-text proposed by Sir Walter Greg rules supreme." Greg is king, and Bowers is his heir.

1986: Peter L. Shillingsburg publishes Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age: Theory and Practice

Textual Critics are beginning to sit up and notice the fact that computers have been popping up everywhere. Shillingsburg is the first to think about what they mean for the field.

1992: G. Thomas Tanselle publishes A Rationale of Textual Criticism

Tanselle, who's a disciple of Greg and a buddy of Bowers, shows us just how closely connected literary criticism and textual criticism are.

1992: Jerome McGann publishes A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism

McGann goes on the attack and says that W. W. Greg and Co. are just, well, completely wrong about the copy-text.

2002: John Bryant publishes The Fluid Text: A Theory of Revision and Editing for Book and Screen

Bryant argues that we should all go with the flow of the fluid text. That's a text made up of all variants of a given work.

2006: Herman Melville's Typee—a "Fluid Text" edition—is published

Bryant shows us his ideas in action when he edits a "fluid text" edition of Melville's first novel.

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