Communication Codes and Critical Editing: Recognizing Materiality in the Work of bpNichol
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Studying the diverse, experimental, and unconventional work—particularly poetry—of Canadian writer bpNichol requires a better understanding of the material characteristics he used to give his writing unique significance. Nichol’s poems call for a plurality of new analytical methods, since traditional editorial and critical approaches often overlook the importance of materiality. This thesis presents three different approaches to critically considering Nichol’s work and highlighting its material aspects: comparing Nichol’s poetry to Dada aesthetics, examining multiple versions of individual poems using genetic criticism, and looking at the changes and similarities between print and digital material characteristics from the even wider perspective of media archaeology. Additionally, the benefits of a digital edition are argued in relation to all three editorial approaches, as digital presentation augments the focus on the materiality that is so integral to reading Nichol.