Chaucer Commentary Editions
Chaucer Commentary Editions is a project launched by Charlotte Morse and Alistair Minnis as an electronic alternative to the largely-moribund print editions of the Variorum Chaucer. The project was inspired by the Paris New Chaucer Society's Congress's special session on large Chaucer projects, planned by John Burrow and chaired by Derek Pearsall. Many of us have concentrated on ways or suggestions for bringing projects to fruition; Charlotte Morse announced her plan to begin putting the Clerk's Tale on the Web and suggested that others might like to do the same. With support from Alastair Minnis and others, the conversation turned towards electronic publication of the Variorum. In the session and afterwards, there was enthusiasm for such a plan.
No doubt that enthusiasm grows out of the despair felt by editors whose work is complete or nearly complete but also out of desire by some to have the Variorum available in electronic form (cheaply). Communication between the general editors and contributing editors has been so poor that some editors have not realized how problematic hard-copy publication has become. Others have quit working. And a few scholars are trapped with huge amounts of work done and virtually no prospect of publication in their working lifetimes (this is not an exaggeration). As word spread during the course of the Congress, a slightly euphoric sense of optimism about the project crept over folks.
Jo Koster volunteered to launch and manage a central website for these texts at Winthrop University (South Carolina), and we appreciate Winthrop's support. The idea is for those scholars who wish to join the project to mount their editions, after vetting by an editorial board, at their home institutions where they will be able to update and make any needed changes to their texts easily. The texts will be linked to this central home page so that scholars who want to use the page will only need to go to one URL to do so.
To see a summary of discussions at the 34th International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 1999, and at the Early Book Society Meeting , July 1999, click here.