When I tried to write on the scale of the literary object, I found myself mired in complications. These were as much methodological as epistemological. The problems I encountered had to do with reading as a practice—the fact that reading inevitably encounters objects that stretch and contort, exceeding the horizon one brings to them, thus unbalancing the scales rather than making them fall from our eyes. Not only are scales of many kinds already “in” the literary object, but no two literary objects should be read according the same scale or with the same eyes. Rather than bring in external measurements to comprehend these strange artifacts, which we do anyway whether we like it or not, I suggest that reading should follow the idiosyncratic metrics of the text, allowing it to instruct us and, if we are lucky, to change the way we construct the “objectivity” of the object.
Today, even as access to digital reproductions (transcriptions, images, recordings) and datasets (text files, TEI files, and various forms of metadata) makes it possible to forge new connections among agents, works, genres, and media, the figure of the individual author continues to delimit the way that modernist literature is edited, reproduced, and studied. This position paper advocates for the reconstruction and reimagination of non- and para-authorial perspectives on modernist literature through the study of the work of modernism’s literary editors.
We modernist scholars are all digital modernists now, and for a variety of reasons. Listening to recent debates in both modernist studies and the digital humanities, one would not think this was the case. Digital scholarship is often presented as the preserve of a special inter- or infra-disciplinary conversation distinct from the professional fields that contribute to it, thus presenting digital scholarship as a set of methods distinct and particular to digital humanists.