Dr. Ellen Foster, assistant professor of English, Clarion University – Venango Campus, spoke about her goal to bring back an out-of-print novel into print as part of Clarion University’s Faculty Author Seminar Series. Her topic was “From Microfilm to E-Manuscript, A New Edition of Sedgwick’s Clarence.”
Foster and co-editor, Melissa J. Homestead, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, found great interest and potential in Catherine Sedgwick’s novels from the 1800’s and were determined to bring “Clarence; or, A Tale of Our Own Times” (1830) back into print for others to enjoy. Throughout her presentation, she discussed the process of getting the novel “Clarence” published once again.
The project was started in 2000. The first step was to find a publishing company that was willing to publish “Clarence.” Within six months, Foster and Homestead had convinced Broadview Press that it was time for Sedgwick’s return and had a contract in hand.
Once a publisher was established, they needed to look for available texts. Their options were microfilm, e-text via University of Virginia’s electronic text center, or print copies, which were very rare. Microfilm was the most usable and sensible option so Foster and Homestead began to create the text into an e-manuscript.
“We thought it would be easy, but it was a lot of work,” Foster said.
The team had to use student workers to compare the texts and identify and correct the many
printer’s errors in the 1830 edition. Foster stated that hardest part was determining intent vs. error vs. usual practice of 1830’s writing. The co-editors ran into issues with spelling, punctuation, italics, hyphenation and capitalization.
Once the co-editors had determined which errors were appropriate and which needed corrected, they then annotated the text to make it more accessible for readers today. This includes identifying authors and sources of chapter epigraphs, identifying unfamiliar or obscure references to persons, places, events, objects for a college level audience, identifying and selecting substantial textual variants between the two issues written of “Clarence,” and selecting contextualizing documents including visuals to show the reader scenes from that time period.
The final step of the process was preparing to introduce the text. Foster and Homestead have established interpretive possibilities for reading and studying “Clarence” and also added a chronology of Sedgwick's life and bibliographies of primary and secondary sources.
The book is not yet published but Foster and Homestead hope to have it in print within four months. Foster next hopes to work once again with Broadview Press to publish an earlier novel of Sedgwick’s “Redwood,” first published in 1824.
This is the second year for the Faculty Author Seminar Series, which has a goal of establishing a forum for faculty to share their scholarly activities with the university campus community. The Faculty Affairs Committee of Clarion University Faculty Senate in cooperation with the University Libraries sponsors the series. This initiative is funded through the Clarion University-Wide Faculty Development Committee's Presidential Advancement Award.
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