Mel Editions

Beginning in 2008, MEL developed its editorial platform, tools, and community in affiliation Hofstra University and Hofstra’s Digital Research Center. In 2020, MEL joined the University of Chicago’s CEDAR digital initiative and its OCHRE data service.

So far, we have launched three “model” editions: Versions of Moby-Dick, Versions of Battle-Pieces, and Versions of Billy Budd. Given the nature of digital editing, we will be augmenting these editions periodically with new content and updates. Readers can access each edition separately through the Reading Text and Introduction links above.

When fully realized, MEL’s “textual core” will consist of a set of integrated scholarly digital editions treating each Melville work as a “fluid text,” that is, any written work that exists in multiple versions resulting from authorial, editorial, or adaptive revision. Included in the corpus of a given fluid text are “authorized” works in manuscript, print, and revised editions as well as “non-authorized” adaptive works, such as sources; announced adaptations for stage, film, and opera; children’s versions and illustrated editions; translations, and associated art works and music. Each revision or version of a text is a potential opening into the study of Melville’s creative process, book history, modern culture, and the interpretation of Melville’s writing. For more on MEL’s approach, click on Editing Fluid Texts.

The challenges of editing Melville’s fluid texts are readily met by digital technologies, though these technologies present challenges of their own. MEL’s three “model” editions, featured above, were selected to address specific digital challenges in the coding and navigation of revisions in fluid texts. To learn more about why we chose these three, click on MEL’s Model Editions.

Currently, we are working on new editions: Melville’s first and most popular book Typee, his novella “Benito Cereno,” his literary manifesto “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” his three travel Journals (1849-50, 1856-57, and 1860), and Melville’s Letters and Family Correspondence. For more information on these projects, please visit the In the Works links on this page.

If you would like to join our Editions Group to work on any MEL edition, Contact US.