Your task for this lab, then, is to reflect on our labor in class by researching and reporting a particular story of textual transmission and remediation. You should research the provenance of at least one text written prior to the invention of movable type, with a special eye to debates over its textual details. That is, how do scholars believe the text we read today was shaped by the people who wrote and rewrote, copied and recopied, earlier versions of that text over centuries? From what physical artifacts do we receive the text, and what do they tell us its reception history? What do scholars believe is authentic to the “original” text, and what do they believe was inserted in later moments of editing and recomposition?
You can choose any text you want and you don’t need to read the text itself, just research its history. To pick a text, you might consult the early materials gathered in a Norton Anthology or similar collection. The point of this lab, in some ways, is to help you think about how such anthologies come to be, and the complex, long textual histories that precede any piece appearing in such tables of contents. The big questions: how does “the canon” of texts we read today depend on a long chain of previous interactions between individual human beings; media forms; and larger political, religious, and social movements? How did our activity in class help you reflect in new ways about that long chain of human activity? And how did our readings about manuscript inform your experience in the lab and your research into your chosen text?