Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Professional Writing

Committee Chair

Emily A. Thrush

Committee Member

Charles E Hall

Committee Member

Susan Popham

Committee Member

Verner Mitchell


The work of editing has been practiced for nearly as long as there have been texts, but despite its emergence as a profession within the field of technical communication, editing regularly struggles to fully define its contributions to their success. Although new academic courses and texts in editing and publishing, recently developed certifications in specialized subject areas, and a growing number of professional societies and associations suggest a fully formed professional identity for editors, issues of conflict, contribution, valuation, and professional self-esteem remain consistent topics of discussion in the literature. Old stereotypes of curmudgeonly grammarians and outdated descriptions alluding to editing skill rather than editing knowledge are part of this problem of uncertain self-definition. More importantly, the lack of both a theoretical foundation for the unique analysis of language that editing provides and a history of the work as it has been practiced for more than a millennium leaves professional editors with only a limited understanding of the intellectual nature of their work, the value of their contribution, or their importance historically as "guardians of letters" and shapers of knowledge. Because a history of editing is sorely needed as an addition to the knowledge base of the profession that would help professional editors fill the gaps in their own understanding about the nature of their work, this first history offers a description of the earliest editors and their work within England's first textual culture that was created during the early Middle Ages by the Church. As a workplace ethnography of the Christian monastic scriptoria in medieval Britain, this description offers a picture of the monastic scribe as both a copyist and an editor, examines the ascetic culture of monasticism that informs the principles, practices, and ethos of this early work, and sets out the details of the working world and technologies of text involved in hand-copied manuscript production. Finally, these editorial contributions to textual culture and knowledge making are described in terms of advances in graphic art, the creation of new genres, the development of scripts, and the negotiation of meaning through innovations in visual design.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.