New Philology and the Biogenetics of Texts

Stolz, Michael (8 November 2013). New Philology and the Biogenetics of Texts (Unpublished). In: Tagung „Rethinking Philology. Twenty-Five Years after the ‚New Philology‘.
 The Forty-Ninth Conference on Editorial Problems“. University of Toronto. 08.-09.11.2013.

The discussion on the New Philology triggered by French and North American scholars in the last decade of the 20th century emphasized the material character of textual transmission inside and outside the written evidences of medieval manuscripts by downgrading the active role of the historical author. However, the reception of the ideas propagated by the New Philology adherents was rather divided. Some researchers considered it to be the result of an academic “crisis” (R.T. Pickens) or questioned its innovative status (K. Stackmann: “Neue Philologie?”); others appreciated the “new attitudes to the page” it had brought to mind (J. Bumke after R.H. and M.A, Rouse) or even saw a new era of the “powers of philology” evoked (H.-U. Gumbrecht). Besides the debates on the New Philology another concept of textual materiality strengthened in the last decade, maintaining that textual alterations somewhat relate to biogenetic mutations. In a matter of fact, phenomena such as genetic and textual variation, gene recombination and ‘contamination’ (the mixing of different exemplars in one manuscript text) share common features. The paper discusses to what extent the biogenetic concepts can be used for evaluating manifestations of textual production (as the approach of ‘critique génétique’ does) and of textual transmission (as the phylogenetic analysis of manuscript variation does). In this context yet the genealogical concept of stemmatology – the treelike representation of textual development abhorred by the New Philology adepts – might prove to be useful for describing the history of texts. The textual material to be analyzed will be drawn from the Parzival Project, which is currently preparing a new electronic edition of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival novel written shortly after 1200 and transmitted in numerous manuscripts up to the age of printing. Researches of the project have actually resulted in suggesting that the advanced knowledge of the manuscript transmission yields a more precise idea on the author’s own writing process.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Germanic Languages
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Germanic Languages > Old German Language and Literature

UniBE Contributor:

Stolz, Michael


400 Language > 430 German & related languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 830 German & related literatures


[160] Die Fassung *m im Kontext der Fassungen von Wolframs ›Parzival‹. Eine Ausgabe in synoptischer Form (D-A-CH) Official URL




Michael Rudolf Stolz

Date Deposited:

04 Jun 2014 14:07

Last Modified:

04 Jun 2014 14:07


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