Lab 1b: TEI/XML Encoding
Thanks to Ryan Cordell for the original version of this lab.
This lab asks you to explore TEI as a tool for encoding texts. To complete the assignment, you will produce an XML document in which you have encoded a letter and a report in which you reflect on text encoding as a scholarly practice.
- If you don’t already have a copy of the Oxygen XML editor on your computer:
Download the free trial version from here:
Register for a trial license key here:
If you can’t use Oxygen on your device, try an alternative here:
Download the xml template file from our class Box drive (in the “Lab 1b” folder) and open it in Oxygen.
We will be encoding a sample letter from the Dorr Letters Project.
- Information about this letter (Letter 5) is here: http://library.providence.edu:8080/xtf/view?docId=tei/L0005.xml;chunk.id=intro;toc.depth=1;toc.id=;brand=default. This information includes a transcription of the letter (so you don’t have to rely on your ability to read the handwriting), as well as a professionally encoded version of the letter.
- You can find a (color) pdf scan of the letter here: Letter 5
- The transcription of your text will go inside the <body> portion of the template. There are already some sample elements to get you started (<head>, <p>, a few others). You can also find a crib sheet of essential TEI elements here: http://www.wwp.northeastern.edu/outreach/seminars/_current/handouts/elementList.xhtml.Pay attention to the elements for ‘diary entries, letters, etc.’ This page may also be helpful: https://uvatango.wordpress.com/class-materials/tei-handout-poetry-edition/ (look at the Poetry and Lists section)
To insert a new element:
- Put your cursor where you want the new element to go.
- Type a “<” character.
- Choose the element you want from the menu and then type Return.
- Notice that a brief explanation of each element will appear in a pop-up box as you go through the list (this is one major benefit of using Oxygen).
- Remember that elements have to be nested inside one another.
- Encode your document, focusing (for the sake of time) on encoding the <body> section of the letter. I recommend you work with a partner or a small group on this, as long as you each complete your own xml file. As you encode the document, think about the following:
- How might you encode the physical characteristics and material aspects of your letter?
- What are the main structural parts of the text? How is it divided up?
- What are the various formatting conventions (indentation, spacing, font size, etc.) trying to communicate to the reader?
- What textual features would you have difficulty finding through conventional search methods, if they were not explicitly marked?
- How could elements of this letter relate to other letters in the corpus?
When you’ve finished encoding your document, make sure to save your file like this: “YourLastName-Letter5.xml”. Then upload your xml file to our class Box drive (to the “Lab 1” folder).
Finally, create a post on our course site for your lab report (categorized under “Lab 1b”) and write a report explaining what you did in Lab 1b and what you learned. I’m interested in your thoughts about what TEI encoding can reveal to us about texts and what was revealed to you (or not) about your letter. Some questions you might consider as you compose your report include:
- What sort of decisions did you have to make as you encoded your text?
- How might these decisions change depending on the type of text you encode (for example, how would this be different if you were encoding a poem, a novel, a technical manual, or a book of photographs?)
- How is interpretation a part of textual encoding?
- How might a digital representation of a text/document encode material/physical aspects of the textual object?
- What difficulties arose in digitally representing a physical object? How did you deal with these difficulties?
- What are some possibilities for digital encoding like TEI? What kinds of projects can you imagine using text encoding?
You do not need to answer all of these questions in your post; focus on one or two. You do not need to have a central argument (although it’s fine if you have one). The goal of this lab report is to think about what kinds of knowledge TEI encoding can or cannot produce. In other words, you are encouraged to think about how this mode of textual analysis changes our attention to texts and the kinds of knowledge we derive from them.
You must also connect your reflections to at least one of the scholarly articles we have read so far this semester (the pieces by Yin Liu, Gitelman and Jackson, Alan Liu, and Singer).
Shoot for 500-750 words.