The Text Encoding Initiative and the Study of Literature by James Cummings

This article, by James Cummings, is a long and detailed account of how TEI has evolved and how scholars and editors can use TEI to study literature via digital means. According to the people at 
‘TEI’ is short for ‘Text Encoding Initiative’. The TEI is an international organization founded in 1987 to develop guidelines for encoding machine-readable texts in the humanities and social sciences.

Cummings begins his article by discussing these guidelines. At the time of publishing this article he explains that TEI has reached its fifth major version, which is called P5. Cummings describes the TEI Guidelines as being divided into chapters covering many topics. He simplifies them into five main chapters. 

  1. Introductory four chapters: Covering the basics from a Guideline description, to XML, to TEI's infrastructure to language and character sets.
  2. Structure and metadata.
  3. Performance texts through to manuscript description.
  4. Recommendations on the encoding of certainty and responsibility.
  5. Conformance to the TEI Guideline's implementation.
However, what interested me the most about this article was Cummings' third chapter division. It appealed to me because of the recent research i have done on Medieval manuscripts and digitised scholarly editions. Cummings describes this movement as a theoretical one under his heading Textual Criticism and the Electronic Edition. He states that this movement which has had more of a direct influence on the advancement of the TEI is one that is more directly involved with either 
computational linguistics or textual (so-called "lower") criticism.
Cummings understands this because of the nature and uses of electronic texts when the TEI was founded. As a student, I welcome this understanding from Cummings as it depicts him as man who can critises his own area but also encourage the evolution of the TEI to help academically. Further on in this article, Cummings quotes Sperberg-McQueen's (1994) text-critical provisions. Interestingly, more than fifteen years on, these provisions are still applicable through all the changes that have occurred. The first one (and most basic) states that electronic scholarly editions are worth having and so it is important to look at the form they should take. As a student with some Computer Science modules completed, the next few rules make me question what I believe technologically. I have always believed in the technological timeline, like the picture below. My motto from Computer Science studies, was technology should be constantly evolving,  increasing speeds and making it easier for everyone to use. This motto was particularly true when I applied it to the internet. 

On the other hand, when I read the following excerpt from Cummings's article on  Sperberg-McQueen's (1994) text-critical provisions, I changed my mind.
 2.  Electronic scholarly editions should be accessible to the broadest audience possible. They should not require a particular type of computer, or a particular piece of software: unnecessary technical barriers to their use should be avoided.
3.  Electronic scholarly editions should have relatively long lives: at least as long as printed editions. They should not become technically obsolete before they are intellectually obsolete.
When I see how my need to evolute could destroy the work of the TEI and some electronic scholarly editions, the English Student in me stops my longing for the evolution of the internet. I asked myself several times while reading Cummings' article, If it works fine, then why change it?!

However my change of mind was short lived. As previously stated, in the last few months I have researched how The Canterbury Tales (seen here: The Canterbury Tales.) Through my research, I have read a lot of Peter Robinson's articles and views. What was most intriguing to me was Robinson's ability to critises his own field. He wishes for a way in which scholarly digital editions can move along with this technological evolution that we are living through.  He implies that not enough is being done, that this kind of manuscript digitalising must keep up with the times. This pleases both the English and Computer Science student in me. I encourage the use of the internet and the TEI for academic purposes and the use of technology as educational aids.

However, not everything you see on the internet in regards to The Canterbury Tales should be used an educational aid. For example this video called The Canterbury Tales Rap should be watched with caution (and dismay)!!

To conclude, James Cummings is under the same opinion as me. 
"The creations of digital edition is either unproblematic or fully exploits..." 
the advantages of the media in which they are published. Whether this be The Canterbury Tales CD released by Peter Robinson or his co-worker (while at the University of Birmingham) Barbara Bordalejo who has published many Medieval digitised manuscripts or the publishing of databases containing images like the Ellesmere Canterbury Tales by The Huntington Library, California. The TEI guidelines help to procure a valuable framework upon which scholars, students and academics can augment their learning.  

Aimeée Morrison on Blogs

Since the mid 1990's blogging has become a very fashionable way of expressing points of view through the internet. Morrison gives an in-depth on each of the sub-catorgories surrounding blogs, from the definiton of a blog, to the genre of blogs, to the use of them in writing and in literary studies.   Morrison's definition of a blog is quite elaborate but, it has to be because it includes a wide range of accesories to it. She explains that "The weblog as a writing form is fundamentally about fostering personal expression, meaningful conversation, and collaborative thinking in ways the World Wide Web had perhaps heretofore failed to provide for; not static like a webpage, but not private like an email, as well as more visually appealing than discussion lists"  Her explaination of it not being static like HTML but not being personal either is spot on. Opinions, views and news are constanly changing, therefore one's blog cannot be fact, to an extent of course. By making a blog one must realise that your entry may be seen by poeple of the oppoiste opinion and one must be open to critism. On the other hand, from a student's point of view it is elucidative to revise what my peers are thinking. One of my favourite blogging webistes is It is here where I can find many of my other interests and guilty pleasures, particuraly 'Women and Politics'
Morrison goes on to write about blogging in the academic world. She investigated and found that "57 percent of..blogs were written by self-idientified university students" This is, according to Morrison, as well as Facebook  accounts and MySpace accounts. (which can act as miniture blogs sometimes!) Morrison has introduced me to a man called Daniel W. Drezner and I have fallen in love with his work. He speaks of political science with such ease and spends hours blogging the political world he lives in. In his "about me" page, seen here, he asks himslelf, like Morrison states, why he spends so much of his time "blogging instead of writing peer-reviewed academic articales?" Morrison believes that it is because he is a co-editor of a book on blogging.

The last matter Morrison speak of in realtion to blogging is its affect in Literary Studies. She divulges that there are many blog sites worth visiting and revising for literary essays. Morrison finds BROG and Into the Blogsphere very worth while reads. She sees this field of research in its early stages, but on the other hand she finds that it may be short lived as YouTube has many vloggers (video blogs) which seem to be becoming the prevelent form of blogging. Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and even more so, Tweeter are becoming mini-blogs for people to express their opinions and views.

To conclude, Aimeée Morrison writes on blogging in a basic way in which the ordinary person can read and understand. This makes her article an exciting read and informative.  
On a side note one of the vloggers I follow on YouTube is Natalie Tran. She has become one of the most subscribed on YouTube and for the past year has been posting videos for The Lonely Planet where she sent all around the world to comment and rate holiday destinations. click here for her YouTube homepage. 


This will be my blog for an English seminar called Digital Humanities in University College Cork.
I am currently studying Computer Science along side English and this seminar felt it would be a merging of the two. This blog will try to combine elements from both. The weekly articles read in class are informative and it is also nice to have a background knowledge on subjects like HTML, TEI, blogging, etc. On commenting on each article read, i will try to take references from my English and Computing studies.

Imagining the New Media Encounter by Alan Liu

After reading Liu's article (several times, I'll admit) it was very interesting to me because I am studying both English and Computer Science in my degree.  Liu's article was very intensive, but informative at the same time. I found his translations of words from the English language into the Computing language applicable to me in my daily studies, so the word "writing" becomes "encoding" and "reading" becomes "browsing". With this in mind, I begin to think about one of my favourite Medieval books, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. I have read this book from start to finish, but now it seems with this New Media that Liu speaks of, I have researched and found out that I can now browse The Canterbury Tales too.
At this website, we see Peter Robinson. He is the project director of this on-line publication. He is currently the only one in his field, having completed publishing the whole of the book on line as if you were looking at it like the book.
Getting back to Liu's article, it explains how we have progressed to where we are digitally. He speaks about audio being the next step after books. With CDs being published, you could listen to the book being read. This conforms with what Peter Robinson has done. Before he completed The Canterbury Tales Project, he released a CD of the book, so it seems publishing the book on-line would have been the next step.