• Dreaming of the DH-poiesis is one thing. Realizing it, quite another.

    I have an idea for the DH project, and I would like  your advice on how to get started.

    My aim is to produce an electronic editions of the modern American poet, Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), to study and illustrate the rationale behind the making of poems. I aim to begin my experiment with of Stevens’ best known poems, “Sunday Morning.”

    Three texts of the poem exit in print, and may easily be digitized in such a way as to facilitate comparison of them. First is the text published in 1915 in a wartime edition of Poetry magazine, at the time a preeminent venue for new poetry. Harriet Monroe, then editor of the magazine, asked Stevens to substantially rearrange the poem, and to omit parts of it, lest “Sunday Morning” might be taken as an open challenge to Christianity–something, Monroe thought, best avoided during a time of war. Stevens, for his part, followed Monroe’s advice, adopting a more tentative position with respect to Christianity. However, Stevens restored what, for my purposes, I will call the “original” version of the poem in his 1923 book Harmonium, and then again in the 1954 second edition of that book. These texts differ remarkably from the 1915 text.

    Setting all available texts alongside one another in a flexible and nimble digital edition will urge readers, including those who do not specialize in literature, to reconsider what we mean in speaking of “the true text” of a literary work, and how the works come to be. Even readers who have never read the 1915 text in which Stevens and Monroe collaborated  will find themselves reading the 1923 text with fresh eyes: the parts that troubled Monroe will be more salient. I propose further to enhance this thought-provoking process by the addition, in a form easily accessible even to non-academic readers, of another set of digitized data: namely, relevant editorial correspondence and reviews…

    I could go on, and with the ever-increasing excitement. But here’s the rub: how can I actually get to work?

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