Jerome McGann

McGann reports that there is an educational emergency as a result of the growth of digital. He draws a very pertinent link between our current situation and that of the humanists in the 15th century in outlining the upheaval we are faced with and the reassessment we must make of all of the tools and methods at the core of our current knowledge production.
Jerome McGann via Youtube

An entire re-editing of our archive of cultural works within a network of digital storage and access is predicted in the next fifty years by McGann. A main concern of his is that the current educational system is not equipped to undertake this overhaul/mission. It is interesting to note that those who have the most at stake in this movement are the least involved. He despairs “not a person in the room seemed to know what TEI was” at a meeting of the editorial board of Critical Inquiry. He refers to an apartheid being in place between literary and cultural studies and calls for an intertwining of the two moving forward in education, particularly in the US.

Print culture, which has been to some extent relegated since the proliferation of the digital, is here given justified praise. He is of the opinion that we must reengage with print culture on our journey into the digital realm, looking specifically at the bibliographical interface and its mode of organization. Using the bibliography as the launch pad, we can then progress beyond traditional conventions, the digital can build and feed upon this original format. McGann envisions an exciting quantum world becoming thus available, encompassing ideas and theories which are by their very nature “inexhaustible,” ever changing and growing.


McGann, Jerome. “A Note on the Current State of Humanities Scholarship.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 30, no. 2, 2004, pp. 409–413.

“Professor Jerome McGann – Truth and Method.” YouTube, uploaded by Crassh Cambridge, 15 May 2015,




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