Peter L Shillingsburg

Personal History
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            Peter and grandson William "The Kaiser"


I have served on the editorial boards of the journals Victorian Institute Journal, Review, Text, and Variants and of two book series for the University of Michigan Press and Penn State University Press. My Thackeray Newsletter, begun in 1974, appeared twice a year until 2002. I served as Book Review Editor for Text and for Studies in the Novel.


After working as coordinator of the Modern Language Association of America's Committee on Scholarly Editions in the year it was begun 1976-77, I later served as member and and then Chair. I've done time on a number of the MLA's Division Committees and did a round as English Representative on the SCMLA executive committee 1995-97.

From 1992 to 1996, I chaired the Mississippi State University Library Committee, during which we developed a new system for allocating financial resources.  In 1994-95, the library committee's main task was to prevent the erosion of financial support for the library and to protect its collection development monies. In 1993--94, I chaired the College of Arts and Sciences' Governance Committee which wrote an operational constitution for the college, establishing a College Senate charged with the care and maintenance of academic policies. Many of the usual departmental committees relating primarily to curriculum, examination and evaluation of policies and procedures, computer uses, and the MA examination committee took their toll of time and energy. From 1982 to 1997 I chaired a committee that conducted a Freshman Writing Contest, for which I annually edited the Winning Essays pamphlet used in composition courses at Mississippi State.

Research interests

My major editorial project on the works of Thackeray unexpectedly broadened, more than it concentrated my interests. Out of the project came the need to learn as much as possible about Victorian publishing (which led to the book, Pegasus 1992). It also led to a complete overhaul of then received editorial principles and theories (which is reported in Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age 1984, 86, and 96). That book in turn stimulated an exploration of speech-act theory and various forms of post-structural theory for their implications to editorial theory, which forms the core of Resisting Texts: Authority and Submission in Constructions of Meaning (1998).  Unable to leave the subject alone, I pursued the implications of "script acts" into every interaction with written texts that I could imagine and wrote Script Acts from Gutenberg to Google, completed in 2004.

The Thackeray editorial project is also responsible for my interest in computer applications to literary study. CASE (Computer Assisted Scholarly Editing) programs, developed initially under the direction of Miriam Shillingsburg, for use on the Thackeray edition, has subsequently been used by over ten major editorial projects in the US and Australia. The capabilities of CASE are being developed into hypertext and multimedia software environments.

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First Posted: December 2004