The Textual Genome

What is the Textual Genome?

January 16th, 2007 by B. Bordalejo

A genome is the whole hereditary material of an organism. The whole genome is written in a DNA sequence using four bases (adenine [A], cytosine [C], guanine [G] and thymine [T]).


The meaningful parts of the genome spell out the recipe for proteins, while the non-coding sequences are not meaningful and are often referred to as "junk DNA."

With all this in mind, we coined the term "textual genome" to refer to the different texts of a work. In this way, the textual genome also includes all variant readings.

Our job is to try to explain the textual genome, to figure out why texts have developed the way they have and what makes a particular text be what it is and not something else.

Some questions you might want to keep in mind are:

  • What makes this text The Canterbury Tales (for example)?
  • Why is this The Canterbury Tales and not something else? How different does a text have to be before it becomes a different text? How much of a text do we need to recognize it as itself?

If you can think of any other questions that might be appropriate, send them to and I will try to add them to the list.

The Blog

January 17th, 2007 by B. Bordalejo

You can use the blog in this website to find out about classes and class material. Feel free to comment and participate. You can ask questions, point out website that might be of interest to the class and comment on any of your assigned readings. Because David Parker might be checking the blog you might have a unique opportunity to discuss The Living Text of the Gospels with him.

Contact us

January 17th, 2007 by B. Bordalejo

We can be found at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing in the Selly Oak Campus, Room 005. You can come and see us or try to reach us by phone (0121 415 8441), but the best way to get in touch is through e-mail. Peter has a blackberry and he receives e-mail wherever he is. I check it several times a day. Click on the links to send us a message

2007 Course

  • Course Program
  • Blog
  • Wiki
  • Links

About Textual Scholarship

  • European Society for Textual Scholarship
  • Society for Textual Scholarship
  • Textual Blog

Other sites of interest

  • Canterbury Tales Project