Textual research is mainly historically oriented. Textual scholars study, for instance, how writing practices and printing technology has developed, how a certain writer has written and revised his or her texts, how literary documents have been edited, the history of reading culture, as well as censorship and the authenticity of texts. The subjects, methods and theoretical backgrounds of textual research vary widely, but what they have in common is an interest in the genesis and derivation of texts and textual variation in these practices.
Disciplines of textual scholarship include, among others, textual criticism, stemmatology, paleography, genetic criticism (critique génétique), bibliography and history of the book. Textual scholar David Greetham has described textual scholarship as a term encompassing "the procedures of enumerative bibliographers, descriptive, analytical, and historical bibliographers, paleographers and codicologists, textual editors, and annotators-cumulatively and collectively." Some disciplines of textual scholarship focus on certain material sources or text genres, such as epigraphy, codicology and diplomatics.
The historical roots of textual scholarship date back to the 3rd century BCE, when the scholarly activities of copying, comparing, describing and archiving texts became professionalized in the Library of Alexandria.
- Greetham, David C. (1992). Textual Scholarship: An Introduction. Psychology Press. ISBN 0-8153-0058-1.
- Greetham, David C.: Textual Scholarship. An Introduction. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 1417. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1994 (1992)
- Greetham, David C.: “What is Textual Scholarhip?”. In A Companion to the History of the Book. Eds. Simon Eliot & Jonathan Rose. Blackwell companions to literature and culture 48. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell 2009 (2007)
- Katajamäki, Sakari & Karina Lukin: "Textual Trails from Oral to Written Sources: An Introduction". In: Lukin, Karina, Frog & Sakari Katajamäki (eds.), Limited Sources, Boundless Possibilities. Textual Scholarship and the Challenges of Oral and Written Texts. RMN Newsletter No 7, December 2013.
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- Bowers, Fredson, Textual Criticism and Literary Criticism. London, Cambridge University Press 1966 (1959).
- Bryant, John, The Fluid Text. A Theory of Revision and Editing for Book and Screen. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press 2005 (2002).
- Cohen, Philip (ed.), Texts and Textuality. Textual Instability, Theory, and Interpretation. Wellesley studies in critical theory, literary history, and culture 13. Garland reference library of the humanities 1891. New York & London: Garland 1997.
- Deppman, Jed; Daniel Ferrer; Michael Groden (eds.), Genetic Criticism. Texts and Avant-textes. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2004.
- Dillen, Wout; Caroline Macé; Dirk Van Hulle (eds.), Texts beyond Borders: Multlingualism and Textual Scholarship. Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 9. Amsterdam; New York, NY: Rodopi 2012.
- Dionísio, João (ed.), Private: do (not) enter: Textual Scholarship and Personal Writings. Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 8. Amsterdam; New York, NY: Rodopi 2012.
- Fraistat, Neil; Julia Flanders (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Textual Scholarship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2013.
- Gabler, Hans Walter; George Bornstein; Gillian Borland (eds.) Contemporary German Editorial Theory. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press 1998.
- Gabler, Hans Walter; Peter Robinson; Paulus Subačius (eds.), Textual Scholarship and the Canon. Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 7. Amsterdam; New York, NY: Rodopi 2008.
- Gaskell, Philip, A New Introduction to Bibliography. Oxford, U. K., Oxford University Press 1972.
- Giuliani, Luigi; Herman Brinkman; Geert Lernout; Marita Mathijsen (eds.), Texts in Multiple Versions/Histories of Editions. Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 5. Amsterdam; New York, NY: Rodopi 2008.
- Greetham, D. C. (ed.), Scholarly Editing. A Guide to Research. New York: The Modern Language Association of America 1997 (1995).
- Greetham, David C., Textual Scholarship. An Introduction. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 1417. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1994 (1992).
- Grésillon, Almuth, Elements de critique genetique. Paris: Presses universitaires de France 1999 (1994).
- Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich, The Powers of Philology: Dynamics of Textual Scholarship. University of Illinois Press 2003.
- Hansen, Anne Mette; Roger Lüdeke; Wolfgang Streit; Cristina Urchuaguía; Peter Shillingsburg (eds.), The Book as Artefact/Text and Border. Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 4. Amsterdam; New York, NY: Rodopi 2005.
- Hay, Louis (ed.), Essais de critique génétique. Paris, Flammarion 1979.
- van Hulle, Dirk, Textual awareness. A genetic study of Late Manuscripts by Joyce, Proust and Mann. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press 2004.
- van Hulle, Dirk; Joep Leerssen (ed.), Editing the Nation’s Memory. Textual Scholarship and Nation-Building in Nineteenth-Century Europe. European Studies. An Interdisciplinary Series in European Culture, History and Politics. Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi 2008.
- van Hulle, Dirk; Wim Van Mierlo (eds.), Reading Notes. Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 2/3. Amsterdam; New York, NY: Rodopi 2003.
- McKenzie, D. F., Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts. Cambridge University Press 1999 (1984).
- Van Mierlo, Wim (ed.), Textual Scholarship and the Material Book. Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 6. Amsterdam; New York, NY: Rodopi 2007.
- Van Mierlo, Wim (ed.); Alexandre Fachard (associate ed.), Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 10. Amsterdam; New York, NY: Rodopi 2013.
- Modiano, Raimonda; Leroy F. Searle; Peter Shillingsburg (eds.), Voice, Text, Hypertext. Emerging Practices in Textual Studies . Seattle & London: The University of Washington Press 2004.
- Shillingsburg, Peter L., From Gutenberg to Google. Electronic Representations of Literary Texts. Cambridge University Press 2006.
- Tanselle, G. Thomas, A Rationale of Textual Criticism. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press 1992 (1989).
- Van Vliet, H.T.M.; P.M.W. Robinson (eds.), Variants – The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 1. Turnhout: Brepols, 2002.