Editorial Networks in Practice: Early-modern Style Guides and the Editing of 'Piers Plowman'

Journal article


Hargrave, J. 2016. Editorial Networks in Practice: Early-modern Style Guides and the Editing of 'Piers Plowman'. Oxford Research in English. 2, pp. 7-22.
AuthorsHargrave, J.
Abstract

Editors are untethered workers, sharing professional space within the interdependent worlds of authors and the publishing/printing house but inhabiting neither; their guiding objective is the clarity of authorial content. How do editors achieve this objective while also successfully negotiating between, and aligning, these two worlds to satisfy their respective expectations? More specifically, what devices do editors utilise to communicate effectively between them to benefit the transmission of content? One vital way that editors strive to achieve clarity of content is through their interpretation and implementation of editorial standards and techniques as delineated in their style guides. In early-modern England, these were generally referred to as printers’ manuals or grammars; for example, The Printer’s Grammar, written and printed by Caleb Stower in 1808. The editorial standards provided in Stower’s Printer’s Grammar, which reproduce and build on the editorial legacies of Joseph Moxon and John Smith, were commonplace in the nineteenth century and undoubtedly informed Thomas Dunham Whitaker’s editorial decisions and presentation of his 1813 edition of William Langland’s Piers Plowman, entitled Visio Willi de Petro Plouhman, the first recognised scholarly edition. Through a comparative textual analysis, specifically examining first Whitaker’s usage of blackletter and red ink and then his punctuation style in his commentary, or “paraphrasing”, this paper demonstrates how Whitaker’s interpretative application of contemporary editorial practice, as disseminated by Stower, assured clarity of authorial content—more specifically, it enabled his presentation of Langland’s fourteenth-century living history.

Keywordsfourteenth-century; publishing/printing; editors
Year2016
JournalOxford Research in English
Journal citation2, pp. 7-22
PublisherUniversity of Oxford
ISSN2397-2947
Web address (URL)https://oxfordresearchenglish.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/ore2win15networks.pdf
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online2015
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Sep 2022
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