The central tension in Gailey’s article between close reading as a traditional scholarly practice and ‘searching’ as a new, oddly detached one was an informative one. I was especially struck by how Joel Chandler Harris’ work required coding in both an original and regularized form to avoid the possibility that it would simply be erased if one was searching for regular spellings of words. I found it equally fascinating that, as far as I can see, no suggestion was made for how the assumption of the phrase “naked as a jaybird” in the illustration made by E.W. Kemble could be anything other than erased by an approach that only searches through textual information rather than paying attention to the text’s material context.

In the case of Burnard, I was fascinated by the fact that he emphasized the inescapability of canonicity. I did wonder whether the same pressures necessarily applied to the modern interest in the construction of canons as to its earlier iterations. After all, the importance of the canon in earlier cultures was as a standard against which one could model one’s own work or as the essential knowledge required for membership of the elite; in the modern sense it often seems to be born out of a sense that there is endless amounts of material that needs to be organized into the most representative of a certain genre or the highest aesthetic quality so people do not waste their time consuming products that are sub-standard or eccentric.