Death and Transmediations: Manuscripts in the Age of Hypertext

Antonini, Alessio; Benatti, Francesca; Watson, Nicola; King, Edmund and Gibson, Jonathan (2021). Death and Transmediations: Manuscripts in the Age of Hypertext. In: HT '21: Proceedings of the 32nd ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media, Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, pp. 17–26.



Has Hypertext killed off both the form and value of manuscript? Digital authoring first and web authoring later have changed drastically the availability and type of traces that reflect both creative and editorial processes. In this view, the consolidated approaches on manuscript studies involving the analysis of material artefacts are challenged. While new methodologies such as digital “forensics” and “virtual desks” are emerging, the nature and relations of native-digital manuscripts are yet to be fully investigated. This contribution accounts digital artefacts within the field of manuscript studies, identifying parallels between material manuscripts and hypertext features in their value as documents. The mapping between digital and material artefacts outlines a theory of manuscript “transmediations” identifying where and how manuscripts cues are reflected in digital technologies. This theory is developed through case studies and analyses of digital transitions. In a discussion, we highlight key challenges and future directions for scholarly editions of digital manuscripts. Lastly, we elaborate the requirements of a hypertext “genre” for digital manuscripts that supports reconciling the open-ended collaborative process of curation with the need for a coherent narrative addressed to the broader public.

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