Sample Curricula

The sample curricula below represent a range of approaches to teaching concepts of text encoding to humanities faculty and graduate students. In all cases, technical concepts are given a strong supporting context from within the participants' direct experience. Each workshop or seminar presents a mixture of presentations and discussion, and an alternation between introducing technical issues and encouraging discussion of their significance. All of these curricula are samples, to be modified in consultation with the local hosts of each event to match participants' interests and expertise. No technical experience is required or assumed for any of these events.

1-Day Seminar on Text Encoding

This seminar provides a condensed, provocative introduction to text encoding within a humanities context. It begins by introducing participants to the essential concepts of text encoding, and then connects these immediately with central issues of digital representation and disciplinary methods. After a break for lunch, participants have an opportunity to experiment with encoding in small groups, using templates to minimize confusion. The concluding discussion ties together the themes of the seminar and addresses the larger impact of digital technology on humanities scholarship.

Session 1 (9:00-10:30): What is Text Encoding?

This introductory session will involve presentations from the instructors followed by discussion, addressing the following topics:

  • What is markup? what is its function? why is it important?
  • Basic concepts of XML: elements, attributes, document structure, and schemas.
  • What is the role of standards and the TEI? why do we need markup languages?

Session 2 (11-12:30): Text Encoding and Humanities Scholarship (Discussion)

Looking at a variety of specific documents in both print and digital form (chosen based on the participants' interests, but including some manuscript and some printed material), the group will consider how different digital representations privilege or demote different aspects of documentary meaning. This group discussion will address two central sets of issues:

Issues of representation:

  • What information does an encoded text represent?
  • How does the encoding represent different textual aspects (linguistic, informational, material, interpretive, etc.)?
  • How do these resemble or differ from existing printed representational forms (such as various kinds of scholarly editions, facsimiles, and original source materials)?
  • How do these resemble or differ from other digital formats (such as images, database or metadata records)?

Issues of disciplinarity:

  • How do different humanities disciplines (or different practices within the disciplines) use textual information, and how can our encoding model these differences? To what extent are representational models for digital texts shared among disciplines?
  • What kinds of information do we rely on for research, and what kinds are inessential?

Session 3 (1:30-3:30): Hands-On Experiment

In the hands-on session, participants explore text encoding using a very simple document template to represent a sample document. Working in small groups, participants practice and discuss their encoding options and choices, and how their encoding strategy inflects the way the text is ultimately represented to the user.

Session 4 (4-5:30): Significance (Discussion)

The concluding discussion focuses on the broader significance of text encoding and digital technology for humanities scholarship, engaging with issues and questions such as:

  • How might participants use text encoding methods as part of their teaching?
  • How will scholarly communication be affected by these technologies? what are the positive and negative impacts?
  • How is scholarly research being changed by the use of digital resources? How do we see it developing in the future?
  • What are the next steps? How can participants learn more?

1-Day Seminar on Designing a Digital Project

This seminar introduces participants to the basic concepts of text encoding, within the context of a discussion of project design and planning. It could be combined with the one-day seminar on text encoding to provide a two-day event that emphasizes strategic discussion rather than technical detail.

Session 1 (9-10:30): What is Text Encoding?

This introductory session will involve presentations from the instructors followed by discussion, addressing the following topics:

  • What is markup? what is its function? why is it important?
  • Basic concepts of XML: elements, attributes, document structure, and schemas.
  • What is the role of standards and the TEI? why do we need markup languages?

Session 2 (11-12:30): Designing a Digital Project: Strategic Considerations

This session will involve a mix of presentations and discussion by participants, addressing the following topics:

  • Document and project analysis: identifying the project's goals, scope and constraints
  • Representing the digital text: what kinds of information need to be captured?
  • Work flow and staffing the project: what skills are required? how do you train and oversee the necessary work?
  • Funding and sustainability: what is a project's overall life cycle?

Session 3 (1:30-3:00): Guest lecture

The guest lecture will showcase a local project and discuss the challenges involved in its design, the strategic choices it has made, and the plans for its long-term support. A brief response by the instructors will place this project in context, comparing it to others to illustrate the nature of the decisions made. The remainder of the session will be devoted to questions and discussion of the project by participants.

Session 4 (3:30-5:30): Participant Project Plans

In this concluding session, participants who wish to do so will share project plans or preliminary ideas with the group for discussion and feedback. The instructors will provide commentary and will guide the discussion so that the critical issues raised by each project are noted. All participants, including those who do not present projects, will gain from exposure to a range of strategic issues and design ideas.

2-Day Intensive Workshop on TEI

This intensive workshop provides participants with a basic grounding in text encoding, through hands-on group practice, together with discussion of central strategic and conceptual issues.

Session 1 (9-10:30): What is Text Encoding?

This introductory session will involve presentations from the instructors followed by discussion, addressing the following topics:

  • What is markup? what is its function? why is it important?
  • Basic concepts of XML: elements, attributes, document structure, and schemas.
  • What is the role of standards such as the TEI? why do we need markup languages?

Session 2 (11-12:30): What and Why is the TEI?

This session will provide an overview of the TEI as an organization and as a text encoding standard through presentations and group discussion, addressing the following topics and issues:

  • The TEI's situation within the landscape of digital humanities scholarship: what are its intellectual affiliations and commitments?
  • How does the TEI function to support the creation of digital humanities texts? what is its role in defining how texts should be represented?
  • How is the TEI currently used, and how is it evolving?
  • What are the alternatives to the TEI? what are the advantages and risks of using a detailed encoding system like the TEI?

Session 3 (1:30-2:30): Basics of Encoding with the TEI

This session will introduce the most basic TEI elements and describe their use, using detailed examples from humanities texts (reflecting the interests of participants if possible)

Session 4 (3:00-5:30): Hands-on practice and discussion

In this hands-on session, participants will work alone or in small groups (according to their preference and level of confidence) to encode a set of sample documents, using templates that provide an essential framework (such as the TEI header). By the end of the session, all participants will have completed at least one sample (and probably more). The session will conclude with a discussion of any concepts that need extra attention, and specific discussion of the following issues:

What features did all participants encode in the same way?

How did their encoding differ? what differences of approach or basic assumptions do the differences reveal?

Session 5 (9-10:30): Guest lecture

The guest lecture will showcase a text encoding project and discuss the challenges involved in its design, the strategic choices it has made, and the details of its encoding methods and how they support digital research. A brief response by the instructors will place this project in context, comparing it to others to illustrate the nature of the decisions made. The remainder of the session will be devoted to questions and discussion of the project by participants.

Session 6 (11-12:30): Advanced Encoding with TEI

This session will introduce more advanced encoding concepts such as linking, physical document structure, renditional markup, and alternative readings.

Session 7 (1:30-3): Hands-on practice and discussion

In this hands-on session, participants will continue hands-on practice in groups using the more advanced encoding concepts to complete a more complex document sample, and will discuss their encoding choices as they proceed.

Session 8 (3:30-5:30): The Impact of Digital Texts

The final session will first engage participants in a discussion of the encoding process and the issues it raised, with special emphasis on the following:

  • How does one decide which textual features are important?
  • How much detail is appropriate, useful, necessary? what are the strategic tradeoffs with a more detailed encoding?
  • What disciplinary assumptions does the encoding reflect? Is it possible to have a discipline-free representation of the text? if so, what would it look like?

The second half of the session will focus on the larger impact of text encoding on scholarship and teaching, and in particular on the following questions:

  • How might participants use text encoding methods as part of their teaching?
  • How will scholarly communication be affected by these technologies? what are the positive and negative impacts?
  • How is scholarly research being changed by the use of digital resources? How do we see it developing in the future?
  • What are the next steps? How can participants learn more?

3-Day Extended Workshop on TEI

This extended workshop is based on the two-day intensive workshop, and covers all of the same ground, but in addition it introduces participants to the concepts of customizing the TEI to adapt it to local or disciplinary needs, and it provides an introduction to the technologies of XML publication.

Session 1 (9-10:30): What is Text Encoding?

This introductory session will involve presentations from the instructors followed by discussion, addressing the following topics:

  • What is markup? what is its function? why is it important?
  • Basic concepts of XML: elements, attributes, document structure, and schemas.
  • What is the role of standards such as the TEI? why do we need markup languages?

Session 2 (11-12:30): What and Why is the TEI?

This session will provide an overview of the TEI as an organization and as a text encoding standard through presentations and group discussion, addressing the following topics and issues:

  • The TEI's situation within the landscape of digital humanities scholarship: what are its intellectual affiliations and commitments?
  • How does the TEI function to support the creation of digital humanities texts? what is its role in defining how texts should be represented?
  • How is the TEI currently used, and how is it evolving?
  • What are the alternatives to the TEI? what are the advantages and risks of using a detailed encoding system like the TEI?

Session 3 (1:30-2:30): Basics of Encoding with the TEI

This session will introduce the most basic TEI elements and describe their use, using detailed examples from humanities texts (reflecting the interests of participants if possible)

Session 4 (3:00-5:30): Hands-on practice and discussion

In this hands-on session, participants will work alone or in small groups (according to their preference and level of confidence) to encode a set of sample documents, using templates that provide an essential framework (such as the TEI header). By the end of the session, all participants will have completed at least one sample (and probably more). The session will conclude with a discussion of any concepts that need extra attention, and specific discussion of the following issues:

  • What features did all participants encode in the same way?
  • How did their encoding differ? what differences of approach or basic assumptions do the differences reveal?

Session 5 (9-10:30):Guest lecture

The guest lecture will showcase a text encoding project and discuss the challenges involved in its design, the strategic choices it has made, and the details of its encoding methods and how they support digital research. A brief response by the instructors will place this project in context, comparing it to others to illustrate the nature of the decisions made. The remainder of the session will be devoted to questions and discussion of the project by participants.

Session 6 (11-12:30): Advanced Encoding with TEI

This session will introduce more advanced encoding concepts such as linking, physical document structure, renditional markup, and alternative readings.

Session 7 (1:30-3): Hands-on practice and discussion

In this hands-on session, participants will continue hands-on practice in groups using the more advanced encoding concepts to complete a more complex document sample, and will discuss their encoding choices as they proceed.

Session 8 (3:30-5:30): Encoding as Disciplinary Practice

The final session will first engage participants in a discussion of the encoding process and the issues it raised, with special emphasis on the following:

  • How does one decide which textual features are important?
  • How much detail is appropriate, useful, necessary? what are the strategic tradeoffs with a more detailed encoding?
  • What disciplinary assumptions does the encoding reflect? Is it possible to have a discipline-free representation of the text? if so, what would it look like?

The second half of the session will focus on the larger impact of text encoding on scholarship and teaching, and in particular on the following questions:

  • How might participants use text encoding methods as part of their teaching?
  • How will scholarly communication be affected by these technologies? what are the positive and negative impacts?
  • How is scholarly research being changed by the use of digital resources? How do we see it developing in the future?
  • What are the next steps? How can participants learn more?

Session 9 (9-10:30): Designing a Custom Encoding System with TEI

This session will introduce participants to the TEI's underlying design, which allows for (and indeed encourages) customization to suit specific disciplinary and project-based encoding needs. The presentation will give some background on the practical details, but will also focus discussion on the following issues:

  • Why is it important to define local or disciplinary practice?
  • What is the relation between a customization and the TEI Guidelines as a whole?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of different types of customization?

Session 10 (11-12:30): Publishing TEI Documents

This session will provide an overview of how TEI/XML documents are published and used as online resources, with attention to the following:

  • What are the currently available tools for TEI publication? what are their costs, features, advantages, disadvantages?
  • Which ones are feasible for individuals to use? Which ones require institutional support?
  • How does publication fit into an overall project development strategy?

Session 11 (1:30-3:00): Innovative Research with TEI Documents

This session will combine presentation and discussion of some compelling models of TEI publication, examining how new interface tools are opening up innovative ways of working with digital texts. The instructors will show a set of different digital humanities projects which represent a variety of approaches to displaying and using textual information, including complex searching, display of editorial information, visualization tools and tools for data mining, and others. The discussion will focus on the following issues:

  • Which of these new interface features seem most useful to humanities scholars?
  • What specialized features are needed by scholars from particular disciplines?
  • Do these new features change scholarship or simply facilitate it?
  • What kinds of encoded information are necessary to support the kinds of functions and interpretive work envisioned by these projects?
  • How does a knowledge of text encoding affect how we use such resources?

Session 12 (3:30-5:30): Project Planning

In this concluding session, participants who wish to do so will share project plans or preliminary ideas with the group for discussion and feedback. The instructors will provide commentary and will guide the discussion so that the critical issues raised by each project are noted. All participants, including those who do not present projects, will gain from exposure to a range of strategic issues and design ideas.