Week 4: Smith, Q1 - Lesbian Rule
  • How does the lesbian rule change our perception of scholarship and scholarly editing? When is it more/less appropriate to integrate into our scholarship? How will this influence future scholarship in the DH?
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  • If we think of a ruler as a device for measuring, and if we then think of a lesbian rule as one that is flexible enough to measure closely and attentively, to get close to the contours of the object it is measuring and to do so without breaking, then editors can use this as a technology of flexibility. Shaping the lesbian rule to a curve requires a different kind of work. I don't know much about the material history of this technology, but it seems like the irregularity of shape suggested by the lesbian rule is one that's hard to reproduce en masse. And perhaps, also, that the lesbian rule's ability to "measure" is less important than its proximity to the object. Or not even the proximity to the object: the shape the rule takes on may itself be a crucial gesture! In other words, the imperative to assign a universal value to the object being ruled/measured is less important than (I urge others to try and fill in this blank, because I don't yet know what could go here!)

    I can see future DH scholarship bringing the "rule" of editorial/curatorial work closer to the curve, and in so doing, making each editorial act a more risky, intimate gesture (and one less likely to universally "fit" other text/objects). What I imagine is that editorial work could constitute its own kind of creative process, that the lines between art, criticism, archiving, translating, protest, and editing might be less distinct. 

    I would also revise what I said about the lesbian rule being hard to replicate: this doesn't mean it's an inaccessible tool---rather, it's a tool that's infinitely made and remade with each new use. 

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