WWP Seminars on Scholarly Text Encoding

As part of our outreach activities the Women Writers Project teaches workshops and seminars in scholarly text encoding. These events are generally aimed at faculty, librarians, and students in the humanities who are interested in using text encoding as a scholarly tool. They offer participants a chance to examine the significance of text encoding as a scholarly practice, through a combination of discussion and practical experimentation. Events range from one to five days and cover a range of topics in basic and intermediate TEI encoding, TEI customization, basic XSLT, and issues in text encoding theory.

The topics listed below are offered at intervals, in rotation; see our schedule for a list of upcoming offerings.

For information on how to sponsor a workshop at your institution, please contact Julia Flanders (wwp@neu.edu).

Workshop Topics

Introduction to Text Encoding with TEI

Dissatisfied with Google Books? Curious about digital formats that can communicate scholarly ideas? This seminar offers an intensive exploration of scholarly text encoding, aimed at an audience of humanities scholars, archivists, and digital humanists. We focus on the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines, a magnificent but complex language for representing digital scholarship and the gold standard for rigor in digital texts. Through a combination of hands-on practice, presentation, and discussion, participants will work through the essentials of TEI markup and consider how markup languages make meaning and support scholarship in the digital age. Topics covered include:

  • Text markup languages as an instrument of humanities scholarship
  • Basics of TEI markup: essential text structures and genres
  • Advanced TEI markup: editorial markup and commentary, details of physical documents, complex structures
  • Contextual information and metadata

No prior experience is necessary.

Introduction to Manuscript Encoding with TEI

Manuscripts are some of the most complex and fascinating carriers of information in the humanities world, and also the most resistant to digital representation. How do we capture their richness of materiality, their variety of textual information, their improvisational variety? Can we do this while still making them play nicely in the digital archive? This seminar will introduce participants to text encoding with the Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines, with emphasis on manuscript texts. Through a combination of hands-on practice, presentation, and discussion, participants will work through the essentials of TEI manuscript encoding and tackle topics and issues including:

  • how to represent revision processes and editorial perspectives
  • how to represent documents that are both manuscript and print
  • how to represent information about handwriting
  • how to capture details of the physical document
  • how we might use this information in a digital environment

No prior experience is necessary.

Introduction to Contextual Encoding with TEI

Texts are important, but sometimes they are also an entry point to a larger interconnected universe of data about people, places, history and ideas. This seminar provides an introduction to the TEI with an emphasis on representing the contextual information that surrounds our documents. Through a combination of hands-on practice, presentation, and discussion, participants will work through the essentials of TEI markup and discover how to create detailed information about the entities named in primary sources: people, places, organizations, and any other context of interest. Topics covered include:

  • Text markup languages as an instrument of humanities scholarship
  • Basics of TEI markup: essential text structures and genres
  • Advanced TEI markup: personography, placeography, and the other 'ographies

No prior experience is necessary.

Introduction to TEI for Archivists

This seminar offers an intensive introduction to text encoding with the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines, aimed at an audience of archivists and others whose focus is on working with archival materials. This workshop provides the same basic TEI coverage as our other introductory workshops, but also includes specific attention to manuscript materials, contextual information, and some discussion of archival metadata. Through a combination of hands-on practice, presentation, and discussion, participants will work through the essentials of TEI markup and consider how markup can be used to enrich access and usage of archival collections. Topics covered include:

  • Text markup languages as an instrument of archival research and use
  • Basics of TEI markup: essential text structures and genres
  • Advanced TEI markup: representation of manuscripts and other archival materials, details of physical documents, complex structures
  • Contextual information and metadata

No prior experience is necessary.

TEI Customization

Using the TEI without customization is like wearing someone else's clothes: they don't always fit and they don't express your individuality. Customizing the TEI is like making your own clothes: it's challenging at first, but the results can be very rewarding. This seminar will introduce participants to the essential concepts and techniques of customization, as well as to some of the larger design issues that can affect work flow, interoperability, and data curation. Participants will develop their own custom schemas and test them on their own sample documents. Topics covered include:

  • background on how the TEI schema is organized
  • essentials of the TEI ODD customization language
  • using Roma to generate schemas and documentation
  • designing a schema for your project: data constraint, work flow, and long-term maintenance
  • conformance and interoperability

Familiarity with the TEI and XML is assumed.

Introduction to XSLT for Digital Humanists

XSLT is the power tool of the XML world. For digital humanists familiar with XML languagesTEI, EAD, XHTML, and othersXSLT makes it possible to transform, manipulate, and publish your data in extraordinarily flexible ways. This seminar will introduce participants to the essential concepts of XSLT in a digital humanities context, dealing with real-world textual data and the complex encoding languages we work with. Working from templates, participants will develop stylesheets that explore the basic capacities of XSLT, and will learn how to read and reverse engineer other people's stylesheets to develop their skills.

Familiarity with the TEI and XML is assumed.

Essential Tools for Digital Scholarship

Building attractive exploratory interfaces for complex XML data doesn't have to involve a full-time programmer. With open-source toolkits like Simile Widgets, JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit, and Google Maps, you can make your data do astonishing and useful things with very little technical expertise. This seminar will show participants how to export data in the right formats, how to configure these tools, and how to embed them in a simple publication interface.

A basic familiarity with XML and a markup language such as TEI are assumed.

Taking TEI Further: Teaching With TEI

As digital humanities increasingly gains profile in traditional humanities departments, the subject is becoming of greater interest in graduate and even undergraduate teaching. For faculty with TEI projects of their own, or with a strong research interest in the TEI, the challenge is to design a digital humanities syllabus that is rigorously and usefully digital, and yet still focused on humanities content. To what extent can text encoding be a useful pedagogical instrument, and what kinds of concepts does it help to teach? What kinds of practical infrastructure and prior preparation are needed to support a course of this type? What broader critical ideas in digital humanities and in traditional humanities domains would form a strong context? In this seminar, participants will each work on a course of their own, with opportunities for the group to workshop each syllabus and discuss the course narrative and design.

Taking TEI Further: TEI Customization

Since the release in 2007 of the most recent version of TEI (P5), TEI users have had a very different relationship to the TEI Guidelines. Unlike previous versions, TEI P5 does not exist in a “default” or “vanilla” state: any TEI schema used in a text encoding project must be generated from the TEI source and involves some degree of choice and selection. When properly planned, the TEI customization process can make a huge difference to the efficiency of a TEI project and the quality and longevity of its data. Good customizations capture the project’s specific modeling decisions, and ensure consistency in the data, while retaining as much interoperability and mutual intelligibility with other TEI projects and tools as possible. Customization also contributes importantly to the process of data curation, both at the time of data creation and later in the project’s life cycle. This seminar will introduce participants to the central concepts of TEI customization and to the language (a variant of the TEI itself) in which TEI customizations are written. Topics covered include:

  • Background on how the TEI schema is organized
  • Essentials of the TEI’s customization language
  • Using Roma to generate schemas and documentation
  • Designing a schema for your project: data constraint, work flow, and long- term maintenance
  • Conformance and interoperability

Taking TEI Further: Transforming and Publishing TEI Data

XSLT is a crucial tool for those working with the TEI, both as a key part of any XML publication system and also as a technology for manipulating and managing XML data. As a programming language that can be used to transform XML data into other formats, it is immensely powerful and also comparatively approachable for those already familiar with XML. For individual scholars and librarians (who may not have access to technical support or programmer time), XSLT can be a remarkably enabling skill, making it possible for them to create usable output in a variety of formats, including HTML, formats used by visualization software, and even PDF. The challenge for digital humanists is not in finding XSLT resources; because it is such an important technology, there are numerous tutorials online and workshops available. However, these materials and events are almost universally aimed at an industry audience, rather than at humanities scholars. What we seek to do in these seminars is provide an introduction to XSLT that is aimed at a scholarly audience, using examples from real humanities data and approaching the topic from the perspective of those who may be familiar with the TEI and XML, but not with other programming languages. This seminar will provide participants with an understanding of the essential concepts of XSLT, focusing on examples and use cases from TEI data in the humanities. We will also help participants learn how to use simple templates to create more complex XSLT stylesheets, and how to reuse and reverse engineer stylesheets from other projects.

Advanced Topics in TEI: Manuscript Encoding

This workshop focuses on the detailed challenges of encoding manuscript materials, including editorial, transcriptional, and interpretive issues and the methods of representing these in TEI markup. Advanced seminars are intended to provide a more in-depth look at specific encoding problems and topics for people who are already involved in a text encoding project or are in the process of planning one. Each event will include a mix of presentations, discussion, case studies using participants' projects, hands-on practice, and individual consultation. The seminars will be strongly project-based: participants will present their projects to the group, discuss specific challenges and encoding strategies, develop encoding specifications and documentation, and create encoded sample documents and templates. Participants will be expected to prepare some work in advance of the workshop, and to share completed sample documents with other participants following its completion. We encourage project teams and collaborative groups to apply, although individuals are also welcome. A basic knowledge of the TEI Guidelines and some prior experience with text encoding (e.g. an introductory workshop, job experience, etc.) will be assumed. If you're in doubt about whether you have the requisite expertise, please contact us for more information.

Advanced Topics in TEI: Contextual Information

This workshop focuses on TEI methods for formalizing and representing information about context: named entities such as people and places, thematic analysis and keywords, text classification, glossaries and annotations. Advanced seminars are intended to provide a more in-depth look at specific encoding problems and topics for people who are already involved in a text encoding project or are in the process of planning one. Each event will include a mix of presentations, discussion, case studies using participants' projects, hands-on practice, and individual consultation. The seminars will be strongly project-based: participants will present their projects to the group, discuss specific challenges and encoding strategies, develop encoding specifications and documentation, and create encoded sample documents and templates. Participants will be expected to prepare some work in advance of the workshop, and to share completed sample documents with other participants following its completion. We encourage project teams and collaborative groups to apply, although individuals are also welcome. A basic knowledge of the TEI Guidelines and some prior experience with text encoding (e.g. an introductory workshop, job experience, etc.) will be assumed. If you're in doubt about whether you have the requisite expertise, please contact us for more information.