Loyola University Chicago

Department of English

Textual Studies & Digital Humanities Sample Courses


ENGL 413: Textual Criticism – Dr. Marta Werner

“This Me that Walks and Works Must Die”: Editing Emily Dickinson Across the Three Great Problematics of Existence

  • Between 1858 and 1885 Dickinson composed more than 1800 poems and 1050 letters as well as many fragments in prose and verse. Dickinson’s textual body — the material witness of her radical experiment in lyric address — will lead us to engage questions central to the theory and practice of textual scholarship. In this seminar Dickinson’s manuscripts will be our lodestars, catalyzing and focusing our exploration of competing notions of authorial intention; the coordinates of public and private documents; the complex interplay of bibliographical and linguistic codes; the significance of textual variants and versions in the imagination of textual identity; the challenges of reconstructing and analyzing the temporalities of the writing process; and the way of philology that encourages us to follow the histories and longings of key words in her lexicon.

    The study of Dickinson’s textual body offers us, moreover, a singular opportunity to consider how to read, interpret, and represent what Edward Said called the “three great problematics” of a life: the “moment of birth and origins,” the “dialectic of incarnation,” and “the untimely end.”  In the textual work we engage together we will imagine an edition of Dickinson’s works that illuminates the key episodes of what she called “This me that walks and works.”

    Seminar protocol and assignments are designed to promote dialogue and to marry theory and practice.

ENGL 413: Textual Criticism - Dr. James Knapp

  • This course will explore the theory and practice of textual criticism through the example of early modern drama.  Focusing of what it means to establish a scholarly “text,” we will study competing rationales for the basis of textual authority, the range of material evidence available to the textual scholar, and new challenges raised by the prospect of digital texts and the preparation of digital editions.  The course will cover a broad range of work done under the umbrella of “textual studies”—from descriptive bibliography to book history and electronic publishing.  The primary aim of the course is to convey the importance of textual scholarship to the interpretation of literary texts. The workload for the course will include readings in textual and editorial theory and criticism as well as hands on project-based work with texts.  For the term project students will be asked to demonstrate how a textual approach to a particular work can resolve or complicate a critical interpretive problem.

ENGL 412: History of the Book to 1800 – Dr. Ian Cornelius

  • In this course we examine the material forms of literature in Europe and European settler colonies from antiquity to about 1800. Topics include writing systems and the languages of literature, the production and distribution of books, the transmission of texts, copyright, censorship, literacy, and the cultural contexts of reading. Our focus is on the centuries immediately before and after the development in Europe of technologies for printing by movable type. What was the printed book like in the early days, when that technology was still new, and how were works of literature published, circulated, and read before print? The terminus in 1800 corresponds to the emergence of new technologies of printing (notably, the steam-powered press) and new political and cultural contexts of literary production (modern states and their “national” languages). Students will conduct research on manuscripts and early printed books in the collections of the Newberry Library and Cudahy Memorial Library, as the basis for class presentations and midterm and final essays.