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Reading nations, debating identities: new approaches to Macpherson’s Ossian R EBECCA A NNE B ARR, NUI G ALWAY J USTIN T ONRA, NUI G ALWAY

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Presentation on theme: "Reading nations, debating identities: new approaches to Macpherson’s Ossian R EBECCA A NNE B ARR, NUI G ALWAY J USTIN T ONRA, NUI G ALWAY"— Presentation transcript:

1 Reading nations, debating identities: new approaches to Macpherson’s Ossian R EBECCA A NNE B ARR, NUI G ALWAY J USTIN T ONRA, NUI G ALWAY

2 James Macpherson, [The Highlander (1758)] Fragments of Ancient Poetry (1760) Fingal (1762) ‘Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity, &c of the Poems of Ossian’ (1762) Temora (1763) Works of Ossian, 2 vols (1765) Poems of Ossian, 2 vols (1773)

3 William Wordsworth on Ossian “All hail Macpherson! Hail to thee, Sire of Ossian! The phantom was begotten by the snug embrace of an impudent Highlander upon a cloud of tradition…Yet as much as those pretended treasures of antiquity have been admired, they appear to have been wholly uninfluential upon the literature of the Country… This incapability to amalgamate with the literature of the Island is, in my estimation, a decisive proof that the book is essentially unnatural; nor should I require any other to demonstrate it to be a forgery, audacious as worthless.” Wordsworth, William. “Essay Supplemental to the Preface” to Poems (1815). The Oxford Authors William Wordsworth, ed. Stephen Gill. Oxford: Oxford University Press,

4 Fragments of Ancient Poetry (1760; 1st ed.) Fragments of Ancient Poetry (1760; 2nd ed.) Fingal (1762; 2nd ed.) Fingal (1762; 1st ed.) Temora (1763) Works of Ossian (1765; 2 vols) Poems of Ossian (1773; 2 vols) R EVISED “R EISSUE ” I NCORPORATED WITH REVISIONS I NCORPORATED WITH >400 REVISIONS “C AREFULLY CORRECTED, AND GREATLY IMPROVED ” “M UTILATED ”

5 Editorial Retrospection “It should perhaps be admitted that the 1996 edition, based on Macpherson’s Works of Ossian of 1765, distorts the reading experience by placing the notes at the end for what seemed at the time to be sound practical reasons.” Gaskill, Howard. The Reception of Ossian in Europe. London: Thoemmes, , fn.

6 one of those rare texts that generates a life beyond its own pages creative catalysts for the reader opportunities for readers to make their own connections offers readers the opportunity to enter the text resistance to any fixed interpretation pre-eminently a text of the margins

7 Ossian: ‘a text of the margins’. Stafford, Fiona. Introduction, The Poems of Ossian, ed. Howard Gaskill (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996), p. viii. Below: Annotations in J.F. Campbell’s copy of Fragments of Ancient Poetry (1760), National Library of Scotland.

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9 1.Archive of texts 2.Critical edition 3.Collaborative research environment

10 Archive free, complete, accurate texts public-domain, open-access images corrected & encoded transcriptions increased access for reading, teaching, research

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12 Edition trace & explore changing texts linking sites of variation & revision visualise full extent of change affordances of digital technology & web

13 Collaborative research challenge existing models of criticism crowdsourced collaboration model annotation, commentary, debate encourage & enable interdisciplinary scholarship

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15 “[W]e are witnessing the nascent stages of a new ‘social’ edition existing at the intersection of social media and digital editing.” Siemens, Ray et al. “Toward Modeling the Social Edition: An Approach to Understanding the Electronic Scholarly Edition in the Context of New and Emerging Social Media.” Literary and Linguistic Computing 27.4 (2012): 445–461.


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