Modernising: a conference

The Oxford Centre for Textual Editing and Theory is holding a one-day conference on Wednesday 24 April 2019 in the English Faculty. The theme for the day’s talks is “modernising”.

About the conference

What does it mean to modernise a text when you produce an edition?  Does it improve accessibility for a wide readership?   Might it de-nature the historical reality of the text being edited? Does changing spelling and removing archaic punctuation make a work more available or just make it a different text?  How should editors conceive of historical difference as a textual quality?  What is a facsimile?  And does the provision of notes geared for a modern audience mediate between the reader and the work, or present a barrier to a valuable, more immediate sort of literary experience?


Our speakers are Paul Hammond (University of Leeds, and general editor of the Longman Annotated English Poets) and Tiffany Stern (Shakespeare Institute, and general editor of the Arden Shakespeare); and Oxford participants include Vincent Gillespie, Helen Small, Adam Smyth, Dan Sperrin, and Michael Sullivan.

Conference timetable

10.00   Welcome, coffee (English Faculty Foyer) 


10.15   Seamus Perry, ‘Modernising and Authenticity’

            Adam Smyth, ‘On editing mouldiness’

11.30   Tiffany Stern, ‘Word, Sentence, Concept, Medium: Where should Modernisation Start and Stop?’


12.45   Lunch (English Faculty Foyer)


2.00     Paul Hammond, ‘Confessions of a General Editor’ 

3.15    Dan Sperrin, ‘Swift’s Fault?: Modernising and Blame’

           Michael Sullivan, ‘Multiple Authorship and the Poetics of Voice’


4.30     Tea (English Faculty Foyer)


4.45     Vincent Gillespie, ‘“After this I saw God in a poynte”: Punctuation and Modernisation in Middle English Texts’

Registration information

Everyone is very welcome.

Tea, coffee, and lunch will be provided.