has even experimented with a series of books.20 But the legitimacy offered by the printed book depends on the very structures that kept women's writing in the archive in the first place, structures whose larger effects go far beyond the textual world. The psychic comfort of handling a book with footnotes and an introduction, of presenting it to a class as a warrant of the text's cultural importance, is purchased at a cost: the lost opportunity to examine precisely why the lack of these comforts seems so disorienting, so challenging. The attempt to legitimize the electronic text by making it perform like a book is a similar evasion. To use the electronic medium, for instance, to produce an 'electronic book' simulacrum of a scholarly edition would be equally to miss the real point: the possibility of reconstructing the relations between the editor, the text, and the reader.
There is nothing intrinsic, then, about the electronic medium that guarantees a radical departure from the habits of thought fostered by the culture of the book. Though it may seem like an obvious point, it is important to remember that habits this deeply rooted--not just at the level of reflex, but at the level of ideology--require a great deal of work to counter. The medium will not do this work for us: in designing and building a textbase we need to interrogate and exercise the medium and the facilities it offers, but at bottom the medium is only an instrument of our methodology, and remains limited by our conceptual horizons. How limited these horizons may be is indicated as much by how electronic texts are not used as by what they are used for. As long as they are seen primarily as vitiated books --books with all the sensual and cultural redolence removed--they are doomed to be used as if they really were just books with an extraordinarily unwieldy agglomeration of plastic and silicon in the way. Similarly, as long as they are constructed using the same intellectual methodology as traditional books, they will continue to perpetuate the conceptual limitations, and worse, that the traditional book culture has fostered.