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Literature in English

Open-Access Textbooks and Anthologies


Digital Scholarly Editions

"A critical edition is a scholarly enriched edition, attempting to construct a text of a work using all the available evidence, where the evidence is accounted for in a critical apparatus, usually in the form of foot or endnotes." - Digital Humanities Workbench.

Digital critical editions seamlessly bring together multiple versions of a single text, such as "a diplomatic version (the closest possible representation of the original text), a normalized version (in which the editor has made a number of changes according to clear criteria, such as untangling abbreviations or correcting obvious writing or typesetting errors) and/or translation (either from one language to a different language or from an older version of a language to a more modern one." Digitizing critical editions increases accessibility to primary source materials and brings together multiple scholarly versions in a single digital space for analysis and study.

  • Digital Thoreau "provides tools to illuminate Thoreau's creative process and facilitate thoughtful conversation about his words and ideas." You can read Walden as a "fluid text" that provides a "composition across the seven existing manuscript versions of the work."
  • The Willa Cather Archive features "digital transcriptions of eight Cather books," interviews, speeches, public letters, and uncollected works as a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition, the project provides "digital editions of Cather texts and scholarship free to the public as well as creating a large amount of unique, born-digital scholarly content."
  • The Walt Whitman Archive - an open-access resource that "is the most comprehensive record of works by and about Whitman—and continues to grow."
  • Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition by the University of Oxford and King's College London constitutes over 1100 pages of Austen's fiction in her own writing. "Through digital reunification, it is now possible to access, read, and compare high quality images of original manuscripts whose material forms are scattered around the world in libraries and private collections." This project represents "one of the earliest collections of creative writings in the author's hand to survive for a British novelist."
  • Melville Electronic Library: A Critical Archive a project developed by a team of Melville scholars, has "launched three "model" editions: Versions of Moby-DickVersions of Battle-Pieces, and Versions of Billy Budd." The "textual core" of this project integrates "scholarly digital editions treating each Melville work as a "fluid text," that is, any written work that exists in multiple versions resulting from authorial, editorial, or adaptive revision."
  • James Joyce Digital Archive features Ulysses & Finnegans Wake in "a detailed, accurate, interactive account of two of the most complex compositional histories in literary history. It also provides a dynamic model of the creative process of composition itself."
  • Electronic Beowulf is an online edition that provides the facsimile of the manuscript with a translation, "The text is completely revised, based closely on and comprehensively illustrated by the single surviving manuscript of Beowulf. Recently contested readings are re-examined and in most cases confirmed by clearer, higher resolution, images. The glossary is completely revised, as well, and users now have instant access through tooltips to the definitions and grammar of every one of the 17,327 words in the text."
  • African American Women Writers of the 19th Century, from the Digital Schomburg collection at the New York Public Library. Featuring "the thought, perspectives and creative abilities of black women as captured in books and pamphlets published prior to 1920."
  • Victorian Women Writers Project (VWWP), Indiana University. This unique collection "is primarily concerned with the exposure of lesser-known British women writers of the 19th century. The collection represents an array of genres - poetry, novels, children's books, political pamphlets, religious tracts, histories, and more."