These essays challenge the positivist, patriarchal assumptions of earlier approaches to textual criticism.
These days, the margins have become a powerful position from which to mount a critique of contemporary society, culture, and text. From gay and lesbian studies to postcolonial or "subaltern" criticism, formerly marginalized perspectives have brought provocative new insights into many fields of inquiry. But until comparatively recently, the extremely powerful, even culture-defining, discourse of textual editing has been immune to such influences.
The Margins of the Text is the first attempt to collect a body of essays concerned with specific aspects of the marginal as they relate to text. The volume is divided into two sections. The first part assembles essays concerned with the margins of textual discourse and explores the function of discourses not previously recognized as significant to scholarly editing, such as those of class, race, gender, and sexual orientation. The second section attends to the textual margins in the bibliographical sense--the margins of the book, in which there has been so much recent interest. The two parts of the collection are clearly interrelated, since both study the effects of margins as a form of cultural discourse.
As a whole, the collection spans several periods (medieval, Renaissance, eighteenth-century to modern), several disciplines (drama, literature, art history, politics, and philosophy), and offers a wide-ranging consideration of a single topic as it is manifested in various genres, formats, and media. The contributors are among the most respected textual/critical theorists in their fields.
The Margins of the Text will become a standard reference in the field, and will be read profitably by culture critics and social historians as well as textual critics and editors.
D. C. Greetham is Professor of English and Medieval Studies, City University of New York Graduate School.