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|Title: ||The Electronic Explication|
|Authors: ||Fenton, Katherine|
|Keywords: ||Humanities Computing|
|Issue Date: ||2001|
|Publisher: ||Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (RIHSS), the University of Sydney.|
|Citation: ||Computing Arts 2001 : digital resources for research in the humanities : 26th-28th September 2001, Veterinary Science Conference Centre, the University of Sydney / hosted by the Scholarly Text and Imaging Service (SETIS), the University of Sydney Library, and the Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (RIHSS), the University of Sydney|
|Abstract: ||The explication de texte, or commentary, has a distinguished record in the history of French education. It originated in biblical exegesis; by the seventeenth century it became a fundamental component in classical training at the Port Royal where the practice was for a master to "marquer" the text with different signs representing ideas, sentences, words or phrases for comment. It was systematised by educational dogmatists who dominated the Académie Française in the first half of the twentieth century and it became a focus of the pre-68 intellectual crisis, when it was increasingly subject to suspicion and challenge. It remains one of the principal methods of studying the works of French authors and testing student competence in textual appreciation in Britain and France alike. With its requirement for different orders of commentary on context, culture, form and content, structure and lexis, meaning and mise-en-scène amongst other considerations, it is clear that this classic exercise may benefit from recent developments in electronic publishing, particularly those relating to the electronic critical edition such as XML, XSLT and the TEI Guidelines.
Electronic editions of texts with associated materials are excellent aids to the preparation of the traditional explication de texte. The study of old texts requires easy access to associated materials so that as well as the literary, linguistic and dramatic aspects, the social and political changes are also understood. Much work is currently being carried out by scholars to collate the disparate data that is available so that new insights into the text can be gained. But how can computer-based tools be of benefit to the undergraduate who has yet to gain a basic background knowledge of the texts, especially texts which present linguistic barriers? Two different websites have been designed by the authors of this paper specifically with the explication in mind. One is Hypert(ex)te/plications which provides information relating to seventeenth-century theatre studies: it contains the base texts of several plays by Corneille, Molière and Racine with commentaries by staff and students on selected extracts, as well as associated background materials that the students can refer to in a user-centred hypertext fashion. The other site, MedFrench, a prototype xml version of a DOS program created at the University of Hull which contains eight medieval French poetry together with "pearls of wisdom" about the history, culture, and language. It contains detailed sentence structure analysis and every word is annotated with its part-of-speech data, its modern French equivalent and its old French stem. The web version has been designed specifically with the idea of guiding the reader through the materials in a linear way.
Can the new methods of digitisation and electronic publishing allow for a new style of explication? Could the process if creating an electronic edition constitute a form of explication as well? The idea of students creating their own electronic editions is not new. Programs such as the Poetry Shell provided a friendly interface and easy to learn tools for the students to add their own textual and graphic materials. But these programs shielded the students from grappling with some important issues relating to encoding and the ontology of text. By marking up a text, the original practices of explication de texte as experienced by Racine himself at Port-Royal are revived. But now the student is empowered to guide the master rather than simply follow his example.|
|Rights and Permissions: ||Copyright the University of Sydney|
|Type of Work: ||Conference paper|
|Appears in Collections:||Computing Arts 2001: Digital Resources for Research in the Humanities|
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