A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism
University of Virginia Press
Jerome J. McGann
Publication Date :
1 Jan 1992
This work initiated a major shift in literary theory and method when it was first published in 1983. Starting from a critical inquiry into certain specialised issues in the practice of editing, "A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism" gradually unfolds an argument for a general revaluation of the grounds of literary study as a whole. McGann's point of departure is the controversy he opens with the once-dominant line of traditional textual and editorial scholarships as it evolved through the fundamental work of W.W. Greg, Fredson Bowers and G. Thomas Transelle. In departing from the canonical approach to the technical question of copy-text, McGann argues that theory of text must ground itself in a recovery of the entire productive and reproductive history of the text. His book proposes combining literary criticism and bibliographical scholarship with social, institutional and collaborative models of creation and production. Although focused on cases located in the past 200 years, "A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism" has had a wide-ranging influence on the scholarship of all literary periods. It is one of the seminal works of modern textual theory.