One of the great problems with the study of periodicals is the creation of “editions” with explanatory notes, just as we have annotated editions of books.
The Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition made “editions” of selected runs of periodicals and encountered all sorts of problems, from the existence of multiple and different editions of the same titles to the inaccurate ways computers transcribe nineteenth-century texts. Annotations were not amongst the many benefits offered, not least because of the sheer scale of the project.
What we’ve tried to do at BLT19 instead is to make annotated editions of selected extracts from the periodicals on this site. These are combined with commentary and indeed sometimes with fictional responses to the material. The latter, where it appears, is separated out from the “edition”, though links are always made to the responses, just as the fiction inspired by the content is linked back to the “edition”.
We think this is a great way to encourage close reading of kinds of texts that are neither canonical or even, sometimes, fictional. It alerts us to the careful construction of texts that traditional study has rejected as of no interest or value. Amongst much else, such editions shows how much work there was behind texts that to a casual reader might seem casually thrown together.