David Vander Meulen

G-55: Scholarly Editing: Principles & Practice

11–15 June 2012

1)    How useful were the pre–course readings? Did you do any additional preparations in advance of the course?

1: Extremely useful. 2: Tanselle's Studies in Bibliography reviews valuably explained and defended Greg's "Rationale of the Copy-Text," while surveying and evaluating subsequent editorial theory. I read as much of his syllabus as I could. 3: The pre-course readings were excellent, insightful, well-written, and germane. In my confusion, I also read Greg's "Rationale of the Copy-Text" which was very useful for me. I'd encourage that minor addition, if not more. 4: Tremendously useful—the pre-course reading was a good survey of editorial debates as they've developed over the past several years. Some additional preparations, mostly further reading in specific area of interest. 5: Very useful. The series of Tanselle review essays worked excellently as a basis for the course, since they gave us a thorough grounding in the material that we could then pivot from as our discussions began. I might add Greg's article at the beginning for some extra context, but it's not strictly needed. 6: Very useful—gave a great overview of the concepts and practices covered in class. 7: Very! They really helped to set the tone for the course and ensured that the class had a certain amount of common knowledge about scholarly editing and surrounding debates before class began. 8: They were useful in advancing some of the basic ideas of the course (e.g., copy-text) and for providing a scholarly and historical context for these ideas. 9: Useful for orientation on the issues, though there was more of it that I could do; perhaps one or two of the essays should be emphasized. 10: I loved the pre-course readings though they weren't absolutely necessary to functioning in the class. We had so much to cover that they were never opened in class.

2)    Were the course workbook and other materials distributed in class appropriate and useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: The workbook will be very useful. 2: Yes. 3: Yes. To amplify, the mode of class was to introduce a concept, discuss its ramifications, and then David Vander Meulen (DVM) would pass an article or two around. We might discuss more, have an exercise, or file it. I found it useful to make sure to stay up late to read all the hand-outs. 4: Indeed they were, the handouts were and will continue to be useful reference points. 5: Definitely. Lots to read and think about. Plus a great set of examples of the sorts of things we talked through together this week. 6: Useful in class, and invaluable at home, plus numerous references to take certain ideas further at our own leisure. 7: Definitely. The handouts distributed throughout the week were helpful during the class and will be a great source of reference when I return home. 8: Yes. I anticipate keeping this workbook on my desk for quick and frequent reference. 9: They were indeed relevant and helpful, especially because talking about editing isn't enough. It's something you must see and do. 10: Yes, really liked the binder and appreciated the facsimile.

3) Have you taken one or more RBS courses before? If so, how did this course compare with your previous coursework?

1: Yes. This course is one of the most interesting and has deepened and expanded my bibliographical knowledge and worldview. 2: No, this has been my first RBS course. 3: Yes. This course adheres to the highest standards for pedagogy. It could be made easily into a boot-camp type course with more homework and I think would benefit from the increased intensity. 4: No. 5: Yes; two previous. This was on par with the others—excellent, well-taught, and extremely practical and relevant. 6: Yes, I took Analytical Bibliography last year—the two courses really complement one another. 7: No. 8: I have taken three RBS courses so far. Each has been superb in its own way. So far, though, this one has been the best! 9: I have not.

4)    What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes?

1: The content was relevant all week. This course was thorough, intense, and well worth taking. 2: The explanation and defense of the work of Tanselle, Bowers, and Greg; the use of the UVA, RBS, and DVM collections of books and collators; the role of Studies in Bibliography; the appropriate setting. 3: Explaining the history of editorial theory, closely reading edited editions, and personal anecdotes on being a scholar shared by DVM. 4: The practical information, I think. The review of bibliographical features of texts and specific methodologies of editing. I feel much better versed in matters of vocabulary and editorial history and practice. 5: General principles, certainly, but also the exercises in class and the final project—actually doing a thing always helps! 6: Experience of using the collators was of greatest benefit, as this is something I am unable to do at my own institution. Thinking through methods of displaying textual notes and apparatus was very relevant. 7: Very interested in thinking about how editorial decisions are made and how that affects the quality of the resulting text. 8: Everything! 9: I know far more about books and what goes into making them than I did before. I could conceivably create my own critical edition of a work and am now in a position to evaluate others. 10: I really liked the exercises and the final project, would we have had more time to discuss—c'est la vie.

5)    Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?

1: Yes! DVM is one of the best instructors I have studied with. 2: Yes. 3: Yes, and yes. I'm convinced DVM could teach effectively using ads from the supermarket to a wide audience; and—in fact—he did this very thing in class. I would have liked more work for students after class but it wasn't necessary with additional readings. 4: Yes, an excellent overview. 5: Yes. We had a really nice group too, which helped—everyone was pretty much at the same level, so we all enjoyed learning together at the same pace. 6: Very much so. Always difficult when class members are at different stages at the beginning of the course. Much was new, and info I had already encountered was reviewed in a new light. 7: Yes, DVM did a fantastic job of facilitating this class. He has a real passion for scholarly editing, which is infectious. The intellectual level was perfect. 8: Yes! (we only had a week but I do feel as though I gained a lot). Yes! 9: Yes on both accounts. DVM packed an incredible amount of detail into each session which somehow keeping larger issues in play at the same time. 10: Yes.

6) What did you like best about the course?

1: DVM is a great teacher! The organization, content, and direction of the course were appropriate for anyone working with any aspect of books. 2: Using the collators; both the reading and discussing of Greg and Bowers; engaging an editorial tradition in an ideal locale and with a perfectly fitting guide. 3: The content and DVM's wide knowledge and generous attitude. This was like an expert graduate seminar with a heart. 4: Collating was great fun. Discussions of editing were useful and engaging, and the opportunity to look at a number of examples was useful. 5: See response to question four: practical exercises and final project. But also, DVM in an excellent teacher, and his enthusiasm and energy made the class even more interesting and exciting. 6: Using the collators and trying out digital resources such as JUXTA. Also the experience of talking through ideas with like-minded scholars who (on many occasions) were encountering the same issues in their own work. 7: Class discussions. I feel like DVM did an excellent job engaging the class with the principles behind debates related to scholarly editing. 8: It was a delight, and an informative delight, from start to finish. I especially liked reading and discussing Housman and Greg, the recurrent rejoinder to "THINK!" and the useful handouts and illustrations. 9: It gave me a new way to read and understand books. Who doesn't want to see an old object made new? 10: I really liked the expertise and perspectives brought by the diverse participants. DVM was a wonderful instructor, extremely conscientious and learned, very inclusive.

7) How could the course have been improved?

1: Assign the Tanselle Syllabus as required pre-reading and an item to bring to class. Reading it as an outline, in addition to reading as much of the material as was possible, helped me to prepare. 3: I would have liked more after-class work and/or readings. It would have been fun to have a more immersive experience in such rich material. 5: Hard to see how because this week went so well—I'm sure DVM will make changes for next time based on things he noticed, but as far as I'm concerned it was excellent. 6: Difficult to say, since DVM managed to fit so much in! Not sure how it could have been done differently—and all went so smoothly. Perhaps (dare I say?!) a little more reading each night so we have more time to talk it through in class. 7: It may be helpful to have slightly more guidance on the editing project. The project itself was fascinating and a good culmination for the course, but a little more direction/guidelines may have been useful. 8: The discussion of collation formulas on day one was very brief. I have taken DesBib so I was able to follow, but without that prior experience I might have had some difficulty. 9: More editing exercises! They are fun and incredibly edifying—both in doing them and discussing them. Lecture time is necessary, but the more we produce, the better editors we will be. 10: Make the presentation earlier in week to avoid conflict with Booksellers' Night, encourage students to pick a familiar edition in their field to make it more manageable, illuminating.

8)    Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn?


1–4: Yes. 5: Yes. Good, accurate description. 6–10: Yes.

9)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course?

1–4: Yes. 5: Yes. Definitely, and much more to work with now, too! 6–10: Yes.

10)  How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?

1: I will be able to think about the books I work with in new ways. My general understanding of what is involved with each individual book is much increased. 2: I intend to continue both documentary and critical editing projects. The course has given me a lot more confidence in the critical editing project that I have joined. 3: It will improve my teaching on bibliography and rare books. I also hope to continue reading Tanselle's reading list and attempt a small scholarly edition. 4: Multiple occasions, editorial efforts, scholarship, &c. 5: I certainly won't ever look at a scholarly edition the same way again! I'm sure at some point I'll be called on (or will feel the urge to) do an edition myself, and this will certainly help with that. 6: Will apply directly to my dissertation and will be of immense value when it comes to defending it! 7: Will use this to better support the English faculty and students who are engaging in scholarly editing projects at my institution. 8: This course has in certain ways changed the thinking I have done about my dissertation and I anticipate using what I have learned here throughout my career as a scholar. 9: I'm not sure yet, but I know I can use them. On what can come later. 10: I will be a more skeptical reader of editions and have developed a much deeper appreciation for the work and thought that have gone into previous editions.

11)  If your made any trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?

1: Yes! 2: Yes. We went to SC twice, to DVM's private collection, & to the Washington Papers. 3: For the most part. 4: Very much so. 5: SC, definitely, some great puzzles and examples. George Washington Papers may be a bit too long, but mostly interesting. 6: Yes—great time in SC and in Scholar's Lab. I also really enjoyed hearing about the Washington Papers. 7–8: Yes. 9: Yes, especially the collating exercise. Learning the various possibilities and dangers of each was enlightening. The Washington Papers visit let us see what the daily life of an editor would be like. 10: Loved George Washington and DVM's house—thanks so much.

12) If you attended the optional evening events (e.g., RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?

1: Yes! 3: N/A. 4: Very much so. 5: Certainly one of the best collector talks I've ever heard, and another very interesting lecture and book buying is always good! 6: Yes, very interesting indeed! And great social opportunities. 7: Definitely, I attended both lectures and Booksellers' Night. 8: The lectures were excellent. 9: The lectures were informative, so yes. 10: I wasn't especially excited about the collections lecture and might have preferred a specific topic/project, but they were interesting.

13)  We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by the UVA's Special Colelctions. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?

5: No suggestions. All were handled very well.

14)  Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes! I highly recommend this course. 2: Yes. 3: Yes, and yes; emphatically so. 4: I would, and in fact I wish I had taken it earlier! 5: Absolutely! 6: Yes, and yes. 7: Absolutely worth the money. I would recommend this course to anyone with interest in scholarly editing. 8: Yes. 9: Certainly. Well worth the barter. 10: Yes.

15)  Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year? (If you have further RBS praise or concerns, or if you have suggestions for a new course, please contact Amanda Nelsen [an2b@virginia.edu] or Michael Suarez [mfs3x@virginia.edu].)

2: I cannot imagine a better instructor, or a better venue, for an explanation and defense of the editorial principles and practices of Greg, Bowers, and Tanselle. DVM's work with these scholars, on Studies in Bibliography, makes him the best possible person for the job. His personal collection also complements those on campus particularly well. His humility and civility do not hurt either. 3: Do the readings early and often, then read some more: extra things cited, more related works, &c. it will improve the experience greatly. 5: If you have the chance, take this class. Highly recommended. 6: Really enjoyed working with and learning from DVM—I'm sure all fellow students would agree!

Number of respondents: 10





Institution gave me leave


5 (50%)


I took vacation time




N/A: self-employed, retired or had the summers off


5 (50%)


I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition


6 (60%)


Institution paid tuition ___%




I paid tuition myself




Exchange or barter


2 (20%)


N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship

2 (20%)




Institution paid housing


3 (30%)


Institution paid for ___% of housing


1 (10%)


I paid for my own housing


1 (10%)


N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home


5 (50%)





Institution paid travel




Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel




N/A: lived nearby






There was one cataloguer (10%), one full professor (10%), one rare book librarian (10%), five PhD students (50%), and two librarians with some rare book duties (20%).


How did you hear about this course?


RBS Website

3 (30%)

Work Colleague

1 (10%)

Other :

1 (10%) Course announcement via DGS



RBS faculty or staff recommendation

5 (50%)





Where did you stay?

Brown College: 4 (40%)

Hampton Inn & Suites: 1 (10%)

Other: 5 (50%)