creating scholarly electronic texts

Clearing out my inbox, I came across an email I sent to a friend and wanted to capture it here before I deleted it.


About electronic texts, I immediately thought of Susan Hockey’s
Electronic Texts in the Humanities: Principles and Practice (Oxford UP, 2001). In general, the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) has developed the definitive guidelines for marking up text. I asked L and one of my computing colleagues (Jeff Rydberg-Cox) for suggestions in response to your question.
Jeff wrote, “What about the bibliography at http://www.tei-c.org/Tutorials/ ? I have always liked the ‘Gentle Introduction’ that is the first one and the TEI-Lite tutorial (#2 on that page) is pretty good too.”
L says word on the street is that this is good: “Creating and Documenting Electronic Texts: A Guide to Good Practice” http://ota.ahds.ac.uk/documents/creating/
The MLA has “Guidelines for Electronic Scholary Editions” http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/MLA/intro.html
In the end, the tricky part about using TEI guidelines for XML markup is how to get the documents into a web-viewable format. You can transform the XML into HTML using XSLT, but this process is right outside my sphere of expertise at the moment. My opinion is that if one follows all the best practices for transcription and basic editing, and then marks up the text in valid HTML (or XHTML, which is practically the same thing), then the documents are good enough for teaching.
I’ve been daydreaming about some kind of central repository for collaboratively created electronic texts (like Project Gutenberg, but a litte more focussed) that could be used for teaching purposes, even if they do not quite meet the needs of scholars who want rigidly accurate editions and electronic editions suitable for automated analysis. One of these days I’m going to try to create a framework for it.

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3 thoughts on “creating scholarly electronic texts

  1. Sounds like an interesting project. I have the same blind spot. Don’t really understand XSLT. Sounds like a great concept though.

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