involves research into how texts have evolved over time, generally from the oldest known sources to the most recent editions.

Texts are studied with particular reference to changes made by the authors themselves and by later copyists and publishers. These may range from alphabetical and spelling changes to individual words to deletions and additions of sentences, paragraphs and whole chapters.

There are many possible reasons for such changes, including, for example, thorough revisions, corrections of errors and omissions, linguistic modernisation and censorship.

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The field of scholarly editing has its roots in the work of philologists at the library in Alexandria in approximately 200 BC. Throughout history, philologists’ textual reconstructions and commentaries have influenced the ways in which people have read, understood and disseminated classical literature, religious writings, philosophical texts, laws, Old Norse texts and modern literary works.

Scholarly Editing and German Literature

Scholarly editing today is a discipline that is important to a range of fields studied at universities and university colleges in the sense that the establishment of reliable texts is completely central to work in the areas of law, history, theology, philosophy and literature.

The study of scholarly editing creates an awareness of how both classical and modern texts change over time. Scholarly editing also teaches us how we can establish reliable texts in accordance with academic standards.