Teaching Encoding In and Out of the Classroom

Authors: Jakacki, Diane / Croxall, Brian / Jenstad, Janelle / Crompton, Constance / del rio Riande, Gimena / Nguê Um, Emmanuel / Cummings, James / Duguid, Timothy / Nagasaki, Kiyonori / Scholger, Martina / Viglianti, Raffaele

Date: Friday, 8 September 2023, 11:15am to 12:45pm

Location: Main Campus, L 1 <campus:stage>


TEI is one of the founding technologies of the digital humanities, and text-encoding offers a productive way for students and colleagues to begin engaging with DH. And yet, there is relatively little discussion about TEI (and MEI) pedagogy at this conference, the DH conference, and in the secondary literature. We believe that one reason for this absence is that the teaching of TEI and MEI happens in different environments—undergraduate classrooms, graduate seminars, the training of research assistants, and workshops of varying lengths, intensities, and audiences—to different ends—literary analysis, text recovery, data mining, translation studies, digital editorial production—and with radically different kinds of texts. Increasingly, students are learning TEI to undertake work on cultural reclamation/representation and social justice, for example.

To address this lacuna, we have begun work on a volume that foregrounds the pedagogy of encoding, and this roundtable is a first effort of some of the volume’s contributors to present their arguments and to hear feedback from the community. The roundtable panel we propose we hope will address some of these different approaches to teaching and learning TEI and MEI through a series of short talks, rapid-fire questions from the presiders to the panelists, and a robust 25-minute conversation that involves the entire audience.

Nine panelists will each address teaching TEI in different contexts. Constance Crompton will describe how her undergraduates encode Victorian classics with an eye toward contemporary problems of textual preservation and representation. The students Gimena del Rio Rande teaches often have radically disparate access to computing technologies, which has led her to use minimal computing infrastructures to create equitable digital editions. Relatedly, Raffaele Viglianti will consider what TEI learners must be taught in order to minimize the role of infrastructure in TEI and MEI publishing, with a focus on helping those learners thoughtfully disseminate their digital publications. Working in Africa, Emmanuel Ngué Um’s students experience multilingualism as a fact of social life but also confront linguistic uniformization; he will address how text encoding and specifically TEI provide a framework for accommodating linguistic diversity and preserving linguistic rights as a means for social justice. Kiyonori Nagasaki also confronts language challenges in TEI pedagogy, focusing on the challenge of adapting TEI for, generally, non-Latin scripts and, specifically, Japanese. Tim Duguid will contemplate the challenges of teaching MEI simultaneously to media students (who have some technical skills but no musical skills) and music students (who have music skills but no technical skills), including both the work of encoding and analysis. Rather than teaching two types of students, Janelle Jenstad discusses what her students gain by learning two XML languages: TEI and DocBook; comparing the two languages not only helps students understand the flexibility of XML languages but also helps them approach TEI critically as one language among many, with its own particular applications, strengths, and weaknesses. Martina Scholger, who frequently teaches workshops for early-stage researchers at the Institute for Documentology and Scholarly Editing, will reflect on best practices for both pedagogy and curricula development while also examining how the social and community-building aspects of such workshops are critical components of their pedagogy. Finally, James Cummings will present a provocation and argue that it is time to deemphasize XML as the centerpiece of encoding education and to focus from the start on the TEI conceptual model itself.

Our plan for the session is as follows. First, each presenter will speak for three to five minutes, outlining the key argument of their chapter for the volume. Second, the presiders (Jakacki and Croxall) will lead a lightning round in which a question will be posed and each panelist will have a maximum of 60 seconds to respond. The lightning round will have a maximum of two questions, which will be shared with panelists ahead of time so they have a chance to formulate responses. Our potential questions include the following:

  • What was the thing you had to teach yourself in order to teach the TEI?
  • How has teaching changed your relationship to the TEI/MEC?
  • What outcomes/skills do your students gain from learning encoding? How does encoding change their lives/studies? What was the hardest TEI teaching experience you’ve had?

Third, the remainder of the time will be devoted to framed discussion among the panelists and the audience.

About the authors

Constance Crompton is a Canada Research Chair in DH and director of the University of Ottawa’s Humanities Data Lab. She is a member of the Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada, Linked Infrastructure for Networked Cultural Scholarship, and Implementing New Knowledge Environments research teams.

Brian Croxall is assistant research professor of digital humanities at Brigham Young University. He is the co-editor (with Diane Jakacki) of What We Teach When We Teach DH: Digital Humanities in the Classroom and the co-editor (with Rachel A. Bowser) of Like Clockwork: Steampunk Pasts, Presents, and Futures.

James Cummings is Senior Lecturer in Late Medieval English Literature and Digital Humanities at Newcastle University, a member of the TEI Board and formerly TEI Technical Council. He directed Digital Medievalist (2009-12) and founded DHOxSS and DH Awards. He has taught many TEI workshops.

Gimena del Rio Riande is Associate Researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas y Crítica Textual (Argentina) and Professor at the Universidad del Salvador. She is director of the Laboratorio de Humanidades Digitales HD LAB (CONICET) and a postgraduate diploma in digital humanities.

Timothy Duguid is lecturer in Information Studies at the University of Glasgow, whose research and teaching interests lie in the intersection between digital humanities and historical musicology. His Digital Splitleaf combines TEI and MEI into a digital edition of early modern metrical psalms.

Diane Jakacki is digital scholarship coordinator and associate faculty at Bucknell University. She is the co-editor (with Brian Croxall) of What We Teach When We Teach DH: Digital Humanities in the Classroom (U of Minnesota P). She is a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities, 2022-3.

Janelle Jenstad is Professor of English at the University of Victoria. She directs The Map of Early Modern London (MoEML) and Linked Early Modern Drama Online (LEMDO) With Jennifer Roberts-Smith and Mark Kaethler, she co-edited Shakespeare’s Language in Digital Media (Routledge).

Kiyonori Nagasaki, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Digital Humanities in Tokyo, has published several books and papers on DH in Japanese. He teaches DH at various universities and recently edited A Companion to Text Encoding for the Humanities in Japanese.

Emmanuel Ngué Um is Associate Professor of African Languages and Linguistics at the University of Yaoundé 1 (Cameroon). He is currently an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing (IJHAC), and member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Digital History.

Martina Scholger is a senior scientist at the Centre for Information Modelling – Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities at the University of Graz. She has been a member of the Institute for Documentology and Scholarly Editing since 2014 and a member of the TEI Technical Council since 2016.

Raffaele (Raff) Viglianti is a Senior Research Software Developer at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, University of Maryland. Viglianti is currently an elected member of the Text Encoding Initiative technical council and the Technical Editor of the Scholarly Editing journal.

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