Galey 2014

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Galey, Alan.

Introduction: Scenes from the prehistory of digitization

"What role does Shakespeare play in this archive picture of culture memory, in the Victorian period but also within the more general scope of modernity that Nora considers? How does the preoccupation with archiving, as described by Derrida and Nora and embodied by Malone, shape the ways we understand represent Shakespeare's texts? This book explores these questions in ways that shed light not only on historical instances of Shakespearean archive fever, like Malone's variorum edition, but also on their connections with digital tendencies in the present. Shakespeare's texts give a habitation and a name to the specters of forgetting and loss that haunt any archival enterprise." (3)

"Whatever else Shakespeare may be, his works stand as an exceptional problem for the idea of the straightforward transmitting and archiving of cultural texts, and the various responses to this problem reveal human insights of a different kind." (4)

"The Shakespearean Archive explores the entwined histories of Shakespearean texts and archival technologies over the past four centuries, and asks why one finds Shakespeare so often associated with new information technologies and with the idea of archiving itself." (5)

"This book offers a critical prehistory of digitization read through the technological afterlives of Shakespeare's complex and imperfect textual archive. In taking modern digitization as a point of departure for historical inquiry, I regard the present state of computing not as a given, but as the result of cultural investments that bestow value in some ways and withhold it in others." (5)

"In many of the scenes from the prehistory of digitization that I shall examine, Shakespeare's texts are not merely passive content for new information technologies to prove themselves upon. In those meetings of technologies and materials, the imaginative power of Shakespeare's texts also shapes our understanding of information itself." (11)

Querying the term "archive" and "the archive" -- place and cultural imaginary

Teena Rochfort Smith's Four-Text Hamlet (1883)

"Interfaces with the past take many forms, and the surface-depath metaphor also describes the ways that disciplines interface with their own pasts -- including the tendency in some quarters to present the digital humanities as a pristine, shining city on a hill that appeared on the landscape only recently." (21)

"Instead of privileging recent digital work, I aim to show that Shakespearean textual studies builds on a long history of technological experimentation in response to the perceived complexity of the Shakespearean archive. New dimensions of technology, past and present, open up when one takes computing as a practice that transcends any particular device." (22)

Against "computing essentialism"