(Non-)literary texts

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Physical description

  1. Title page – in case of older materials: word by word line by line (line break= |) transcript of the title page
  2. Format, size (2°, 4°, 8° etc. or cm or inch)
  3. Structure: dedication, preface, table of contents, text, index with page references
  4. Additional information: author, publisher, who is addressed in the dedication etc. – what is information we get, what is information we can add out of later research
  5. Price (if for instance mentioned on the title page)

Publishing History

  1. When first published, succeeding editions (see ESTC), translations – how successful was the title? What influence did it have?
  2. Was the title formulation changed in later editions?


  1. Genre, self-definition
  2. Self acclaimed status of the object: fiction, true history, partisan publication etc.
  3. Design, self fashioning: elegant, belles letters, scientific. Changes of the design in later editions.
  4. Who was the audience? How was the first audience supposed to read the text? Changes of the text’s status – for instance from “true history” to “chap book” or “fictional/literary work”.
  5. Was there a reaction intended? (politics, behaviour)


Themes, topics

  • as given in the text
  • as they evolved in later discussions
  • does the text tell us how it wants to be interpreted, read, understood – and how serious are these hints?
  • does the text present (intended?) contradictions – either within its own logic or against the background of (our perception of) reality?

Interfering materials

  • are there other texts the title in question refers to (openly or implicitly) – intertextuality. Is this reference humorous (parody), does it create authorities, does it simply sell the text by alluding to other bestsellers?
  • are there other texts which later came to refer to the text in question?
  • does the text create its own critical discourse – e.g. reflect its history, its author’s work and intentions