Annotation: D. C. Greetham’s “Introduction”

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Greetham, D. C. “Introduction.” Textual Scholarship: An Introduction. New York: Garland Publishing INC, 1994. 1-12. Print.

In his “Introduction,” Greetham asserts that the goal of his book is to simplify and clarify the process and components of textual studies. He defines “textual scholarship” as “all the activities associated with the discovery, description, transcription, editing, glossing, annotating, and commenting upon texts” (2). Greetham distinguishes this from “textual criticism,” which he describes as more “concerned with evaluating and emending the reading of texts” (2). He explains that his book is guided by two central ideas. Firstly, Greethan claims that textual scholars work from a “historical bias,” relying on past disciplinary evidence and additionally attempting to incorporate their own scholarship into “the context of that historical perspective” (2). He emphasizes that textual scholars not only study the textual product but also the process that gave rise to it. Secondly, Greetham accentuates that the skills of textual scholars from all different fields are important and relevant despite the strict disciplinary specialization and segregation in academia. He stresses that textual scholars should strive to learn as much as they can from one another.

Greetham asserts that the goal of his book is to teach the student the methods of textual scholarship, with the assumption that he or she “is already an expert in the specific field within which the texts are to be edited. He goes on to offer some helpful definitions of the important terms within textual scholarship. He begins with “enumerative, or systematic, bibliography” defining it generally as “the listing of books” and “the [only] bibliographical term which is commonly used to refer to manuscript as well as printed materials” (5). He then defines “analytical bibliography” or “new bibliography” as “involv[ing] the consideration of all those stages of printing…that might tell us something about how the text reached its present condition” (7). In this respect, Greetham argues that it is similar to “historical bibliography” or “the study of [texts] as part of a Darwinian evolution of a manufacturing process” and “descriptive bibliography” which he explains “uses the information gained in the practice of analytic and historical bibliography to prepare an account of the ‘bibliographical nature’ of the book” (7). Finally, he defines “textual bibliography” as “the employment of the technical information derived from analytical or descriptive bibliography in charting and evaluating the effect of the technical history on the text itself” (8).

While Greetham acknowledges that some scholars view these bibliographical acts as conclusive, most consider them merely steps to the actual project of producing a “reconstruction of an author’s intended text and/or the production of a critical edition displaying this intention or some other version of the text” (8). He claims that part of the business of textual scholarship, especially with regards to texts that have multiple editions and copies, is to range them “in some sort of order of relative authority” (8). Greetham then goes on to clarify “New Scholarship” and “social textual criticism,” which are both critical editorial schools that emphasize the importance process and social context over the actual textual product (9). Finally he explains that textual scholarship is encompassed within the broader field of “philology,” which he defines as “the study of historical perspective, of seeing a past culture whole and trying to re-create its ethos in one’s scholarly writing” (9). He suggests that analysis of language has been particularly important within this historical discipline.

Greetham concludes his essay, however, reminding textual scholars that to produce truly successful work they must combine historical and technical knowledge with persuasive critical evaluation and judgment. He ultimately hopes that readers of his book will come away with a knowledge of “the process of textual scholarship,” the ability to recognize and understand the basic vocabulary and “classes of identification” related to textual scholarship, and cultivate the skills necessary to produce a “reputable scholarly edition of a short work, with well-defined documentary limits” (11).

Annotation: Rachel Salazar Parreñas and Loc C. D. Siu’s “Introduction: Asian Diasporas- New Conceptions, New Frameworks” (2007)

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Parreñas, Rachel Salazar and Loc C. D. Siu. “Introduction: Asian Diasporas—New Conceptions, New Frameworks.” Asian Diasporas: New Formations, New Conceptions. Eds. Rhacel S. Parreñas and Lok C. D. Siu. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007. 1- 28. Print.

Parreñas and Siu begin their essay by offering a three-part definition of diaspora:

(1) displacement from the homeland under the nexus of an unequal global political and economic system; (2) the simultaneous experience of alienation and the maintenance of affiliation to both the country of residence and the homeland; and finally (3) the sense of collective consciousness and connectivity with other people displaced from the homeland across the diasporic terrain. (1-2)

They emphasize that this anthology attempts to shift away from theoretical discussions of diaspora to examine how individuals actually “experience, interpret, and give meaning to diaspora” (2). Parreñas and Siu particularly focus on those works that move beyond the borders of the US nation-state, insisting that these communities and spaces have been problematically overlooked by critics in Asian and Asian American studies. They emphasize that “Asian migration, after all, has always been global” and to simply focus on the United States or Asia in isolation of the rest of the world creates a critical aporia where the experiences of Vietnamese migrants who settle in France, for example, go unexamined. Parreñas and Siu emphasize the need to conduct comparative analyses that operate on two levels, “the place-specific/cross-ethnic” and “ethnic-specific/transnational” (3). They assert that the development of global communication technologies such as the Internet have made it increasingly possible to sustain diasporic communities making the study of diaspora all the more urgent.

At the same time, however, Parreñas and Siu recognize the potential dangers that may emerge as a result of this diasporic focus. They particularly site Sau-ling Wong’s concerns about the “‘denationalization’ of Asian American studies” (4). As a field that historically emerged from the civil rights movement, whose political project was to assert that Asian Americans belong in the US, the shift to diaspora essentially “challeng[s] the United States as the privileged site of analysis,” contradicting the fundamental goals of the movement and potentially endangering the fight for Asian American political rights in the nation-state (5). But Parreñas and Siu accentuate how the Asian American movement was always concerned with transnational politics, struggling to link the acts of racism and injustices within the United States to similar acts across the globe.

They also recognize the problematic label of “Asian” diasporas, which can be overly simplistic and reductive. Yet they assert the productivity of this nominal label because it “call[s] attention to the racializing-gendering process involved in diaspora making” as Asians, no matter where they move, are still classified as Asian (9). Parreñas and Siu further emphasize that Asian diasporas are distinct because Asian governments are actively invested in “producing and sustaining diasporic connections and identifications with their respective homelands,” making them a particularly important subject of study. Parreñas and Siu recognize that these multiple, heterogeneous diasporas operate on many different levels, making an explicit effort to “distinguis[h] those Asians who can move, especially to the West, from Asians who are left immobile by the forces of global capitalism and those who choose not to move because of their privileged access to global capitalism” (11).

In their “Introduction” they emphasize that to be “diasporic requires continual production of certain conditions and identifications” (12). They further note that the experience of diaspora can be incredibly liberating but also painful and marginalizing as diasporic subjects are characterized by their partial belonging in their state of residence and their homeland. Parreñas and Siu additionally assert the need to examine how Asians employ diaspora as a means of resistance to racism and xenophobia. They particularly isolate five major themes that connect the various essays in their anthology:

“the recognition of inter-Asian strife in past and present; the persistence of the nation state; the salience of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality; the forces of labor, colonialism and globalization that maintain relations of inequality within Asia as well as Asia in relation to the West; and the centrality of culture” (16).