For the Sake of Argument: Crowdsourcing Annotation of Macpherson's Ossian

Barr, Rebecca Anne
Tonra, Justin
Barr, Rebecca Anne; Tonra, Justin (2014) For the Sake of Argument: Crowdsourcing Annotation of Macpherson's Ossian. The Edition as Argument, 1550-1750 Conference, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK: Conference Paper
The argument presented by a scholarly edition can usually be traced to the vision of a single editor or a very small group of editors. But is it possible or even desirable for an edition to present multiple, perhaps competing, arguments? This paper emerges from a new project to create a social edition of James Macpherson s Ossian poems, and describes the practical and theoretical issues behind crowdsourcing annotation of the text.   The purpose of this project is to generate new knowledge about a key eighteenth-century literary text. Since its publication in 1760, Ossian s combination of spurious textual genetics and claims to cultural authenticity has provoked controversy and argument. In his lifetime Macpherson s editions incorporated responses to his antique poetry: producing a battery of paratext, as well as insertions, expansions, and alterations to bolster credibility and maximize on commercial success. From the outset, then, Macpherson used edition as argument.   This project aims to present a new online edition of Ossian, prepared according to strict principles of scholarly editing. The open-access project will re-present Macpherson s work to new audiences of scholars and will uncover the various textual choices made in the eighteenth-century editions. Most importantly, it will create an online knowledge community who will be actively involved in the collaborative creation of scholarly annotations. Users will collaborate, debate, and annotate this edition, synthesising for the first time a broad range of disciplinary perspectives to provide an evolving community of research and a truly social edition.   This paper will analyse the affordances of the web for the scholarly editor, with particular reference to presenting full texts, visualizing variation and genetic textual development, and creating an annotation collaboratory. Such possibilities open interpretive avenues that are closed to the printed edition, this paper argues, before considering whether other stages in the preparation of the scholarly edition (collating and establishing texts, creating the critical apparatus) might be achieved through similar crowdsourcing processes.
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland