Constructing Our Canon(s): Reprinting & Digitizing Literary Heritage

Molly Des Jardin
When it comes to Japanese literary heritage, why and how are we able to access it? The shape of what is preserved and available is driven by and in turn dictates the shape of our canon(s). Yet we often do not think of the labor and social networks behind the reprinting and digitizing that allows us to access literature in the first place, whether for pleasure, teaching or scholarship, and what is at stake in reproducing and disseminating literary works. This presentation is an examination of
more » ... prehistory of digital archives in the form of reproductions and reprints, as well as new digital datasets. I focus on the stakes for those working to construct them: personal, intellectual, economic, social, and community considerations are all potential motives. And regardless of who undertakes the work that reproduces literature and thus makes it available for posterity, there are always questions of which editions to choose and how to shape a genre, period, or oeuvre, or even an entire digital archive. In fact, the online Aozora Bunko's content is largely taken from the ubiquitous zenshū reprints of the twentieth century, which are still consulted by most scholars and students as the most accessible versions of works. Here I will work to uncover the motivations and labor behind reproduced literature, digital and print, and seek to understand the shape of our canon(s) based in what is at stake for those who produce them.
doi:10.17613/rspr-1s25 fatcat:o5tauskcirf4tonytws2m44ta4