A New Appreciation for Quantitative Methods

I am currently finishing up an edition review for another class, in which I discuss editorial decisions made throughout the Riverside Chaucer (1987). The research conducted is quite familiar to me, mainly focussing on literature and content analysis, with some manuscript studies in there as well. In doing my research for this assignment, I was struck by how similar these methods are to some of the studies we have discussed in class, especially ethnography and discourse analysis, as well as some of the more quantitative methods.
In compiling an edition of the Canterbury Tales, scholarly editors have to go through all of the existing (and acceptable) manuscripts and collate them, determining variants in spelling or word choice, etc., in order to decide what manuscript to use a base text, or whether to compile several manuscripts in order to create a new edition. I had never thought of it before, but thanks to my new found knowledge of research methods, doing this work would involve so much more quantitative analysis than I ever realized. You would have to count and record every variant in every manuscript, and then use your data to decide what edition is most accurate for your purposes. This is a far cry from the textual analysis I had always seen it as.
I have been doing research in this area for a few years now, but it was not until this past week that I saw manuscript studies as being so data-centric and quantitative, something I can surely attribute to my introduction to those methods in this course.

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