The Walt Whitman Archive – Question 3
Mark A. Greene, Evan McGonagill, Kenneth M. Price, Claire Warwick, Edward Whitley
3What about the digital form—as opposed to working with the materials in analogue form, for example—works well for you, and what does not? How does this site’s digital form contribute to the archive’s strengths and weaknesses?
The digital form highlights a question faced by every project or repository working to build online digital collections from analog originals. The digital form permits creation of extremely high density and equally high quality facsimiles, making it possible to determine physical characteristics of the original impossible to consider during the era of microfilm or photocopying…Read this Response
As the Archive is very aware, the Whitman corpus presents a particular set of linguistic challenges to the reader that seem to appeal for a more open and flexible form than what is offered by their original editions of print. Digital forms often work well for such challenging texts because they provide a-linear approaches of exploration and analysis, but in my opinion the Archive has not yet developed…Read this Response
A comparison of the Whitman Archive to its print predecessor, The Collected Writings of Walt Whitman,[ref]When The New York University Press ceased publishing the Collected Writings in 1984, they had issued twenty-two volumes, many more than were originally projected. Despite the magnitude of what had been accomplished, many of the original objectives of the edition were not met.Read this Response
It is difficult for me to answer the final question because most to the scholarly material that I need are now available in digital form. As a digital humanist, rather than a literary scholar I have very little need to use original manuscripts or early printed books in my own work. What we know about the research practices of humanity scholars, however…Read this Response
Archive co-director Ed Folsom once noted that printed editions of Whitman’s works have had the unfortunate tendency of becoming irrelevant the moment that scholars unearth a new letter, manuscript, or biographical fact about the poet. The Whitman Archive, however, has the benefit of being able to change and adapt as often as new discoveries are brought to the attention of the directors.Read this Response