Remediating the Avant-Garde

Hanno Biber

The AAC-FACKEL, a Digital Edition of the Satirical Journal "Die Fackel"

The aim of this paper is to present the corpus-based methodological approach of a scholarly digital edition of an important text of literary history. The digital edition is the AAC-FACKEL, an online edition of the literary magazine "Die Fackel". First, the general principles of the edition and its design considerations will be presented. Second, the particular questions of editing and exploring this important source of German literary history will be addressed. And third, the considerations for improvement of this widely used online edition, which is based upon the principles of corpus research and text technology, will be presented.

The digital edition "Die Fackel" ("The Torch") has been developed in a collaboration of researchers, programmers and designers within the framework of the AAC-Austrian Academy Corpus operated by the Institute for Corpus Linguistics and Text Technology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. "Die Fackel" was originally published and almost entirely written by the satirist and language critic Karl Kraus in Vienna from 1899 until 1936. The AAC-FACKEL offers free online access to 37 volumes, 415 issues, 922 numbers, comprising more than 22.500 pages and 6 million wordforms. The digital edition contains a fully searchable database of the journal with indexes, search tools and navigation aids in a functional interface, where all pages of the original are available as digital texts and as facsimile images.

The work of Karl Kraus can be regarded as one of the most important contributions to world literature. It is a source for the history of the time, for its language and its moral transgressions. Karl Kraus covers in his typical and idiosyncratic style in thousands of texts the themes of journalism and war, of politics and corruption, of literature and lying. The interface provides the scholar with a complex research environment to read, study and access the texts from various entry points. The journal comprises a great variety of essays, notes, commentaries, aphorisms, poems and other forms. The scholarly digital edition allows new ways of philological research and analysis. The presentation of this resource, where the question of how a valuable historical text source is made visible and alive in a digital media environment is addressed, gives insights into the features of the edition, where the potential of lexicographic word searches within the various texts of the edition as well as basic and more advanced elements of the corpus research approach followed by the AAC is demonstrated.

The research tool offers access to this resource by means of a multifunctional interface. The interface has five individual frames synchronized within one single window. The frames can be opened and closed as required. The 'Paratext' section situated within the first frame provides additional information about the background of the edition and essays about the journal. The 'Search|Index' section gives access to a variety of indexes, databases and full-text search mechanisms. The results of these queries and lists are displayed in the 'Results' section. A 'Contents' section has been developed in order to show the reader the whole range of the journal ready to be explored and give access to the whole run of issues and all of the contents of the journal in chronological order. The 'text' section has a complex and powerful navigational bar. The functionality of the indexes and the technical specifications of the edition are described in the 'Paratext' section on the technical details. The contents list of this edition is based on the original text titles given by Karl Kraus in "Die Fackel" and in the separate contents pages of the quarterly volumes of the journal, which were collected by the editors of the AAC-FACKEL. The specific principles of the digital edition are determined by the conviction that the methods of corpus research lead to valuable resources for scholars doing research into language and literature.


Dr Hanno Biber is Senior Researcher at the "Institute for Corpus Linguistics and Text Technology" of the "Austrian Academy of Sciences" in Vienna. Research Interests: Corpus research, corpus linguistics and corpus-based literary studies, text-corpora and text-technology, lexicography, book- and web-design, Karl Kraus and "Die Fackel". Cofounder of the "AAC Austrian Academy Corpus", co-editor-in-chief of the AAC Digital Editions (AAC-Fackel and Brenner online); Collaborator of the "Fackellex" text-dictionaries at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Dictionary of Idioms, Dictionary of Insults and Invectives). PhD (The Composition of "Die Fackel") from the University of Vienna.