Editing Shakespeare in Parts

Abstract

“Editing Shakespeare in Parts” argues that single-text editing is not the most effective response to the pressing need to adjust editorial methods to a theoretically and historically informed understanding of early modern theatrical and textual cultures. Single-text editing has undoubtedly allowed fresh and astute thinking in relation to early modern modes of dramatic authorship, but it has also unhelpfully reinforced the notion that “the play” is the main semantic unit through which we can access and understand Shakespeare and early modern drama more generally. Inspired by early modern theater and book historians who have started to reconceptualize “the play” as an unstable assembly of interlocking parts, this essay considers what a born-digital scholarly edition of Shakespeare would look like, if “the part” rather than “the play” were to become its main organizing principle, and what editing and accessing Shakespeare “in parts” would practically mean for editors and for their target readers and users.