Scholarly Seminars in Text Encoding with TEI

Project Summary

The Brown University Women Writers Project (WWP) requests funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a program of intensive workshops and seminars on scholarly humanities text encoding, aimed at humanities faculty and graduate students. Workshops in this series would be offered at humanities centers and scholarly conferences in the USA and Canada over a two year period, and would provide participants with:

  • a clear sense of the range of theoretical issues that connect text encoding with broader scholarly practice
  • an overall picture of how text encoding as a technology is now embedded in scholarly practice: how it underlies the research collections scholars routinely use; what practices it enables and disables; how text encoding standards emerge and evolve as social formations;
  • an initial, intensive, but non-threatening hands-on introduction to text encoding, to ground discussion and give participants a working acquaintance with the relevant technologies.

As part of the program, participants would also receive ongoing consultation and assistance in developing new text encoding projects, in designing curricular materials and classroom projects that use text encoding to deepen students' engagement with documentary sources, and in using digital resources more knowledgeably and effectively in their research. The program as a whole would support the development of a scholarly community that is better informed and more deeply and effectively engaged with scholarly uses of technology.

The audience for this program encompasses faculty and graduate students in all humanities disciplines, at any level of technical competence, and in particular those who work closely with primary sources. The program builds on two decades of research on scholarly uses of text encoding at the WWP, and on over five years of experience by the WWP staff in educating scholars, librarians, and graduate students about text encoding using the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines. It also draws on a substantial body of documentation by the WWP, including a forthcoming NEH-funded Guide to Scholarly Text Encoding with TEI (scheduled for completion in December 2006). The Brown University Scholarly Technology Group (STG) provides additional expertise and a track record of working collaboratively with faculty on digital research projects.

I. Project Significance

Text Encoding for Humanities Scholars

The Women Writers Project proposes to offer a series of twelve workshops and seminars on scholarly humanities text encoding, aimed at humanities faculty and graduate students. The immediate goal of these workshops is to provide participants with a clear sense of the range of theoretical issues that connect text encoding with scholarly methods, and give an overall picture of how text encoding as a technology is now embedded in scholarly practice. The broader goal of the series as a whole is to foster a more intellectually engaged and better informed discourse on scholarly digital texts and text encoding within the scholarly community. Participants will gain a solid and detailed understanding of text encoding and its implications for scholarship, and whatever new ideas and projects are initiated as a result will affect not only the participants themselves but also their colleagues, their students, and their institutions.

The proposed program would run for two years, from January 2007 through December 2008. We have already identified locations and organizers for more than half of the events (see Curriculum and Work Plan, below, and see Appendix for letters of support). We are in negotiation with a number of humanities centers to fill the remaining slots, and over the next six months we will firmly identify the remaining locations so that if funded the program can start immediately. Workshops may be held in conjunction with a conference or other event, or as part of a program at a humanities center or similar institution. They will be held throughout the year, focused on times when faculty are typically less busy, including summer, spring (March-May), and fall (October-November), and tending to avoid busy exam periods.

The format of the workshops is intentionally flexible, to allow for adaptation to local interests and constraints. We will design a set of basic workshop curricula including a one-day, a two-day, and a three-day option. At the core of each workshop will be a set of essential topics and issues, including the following:

  • the role of text encoding standards in scholarly communication: how do standards evolve within specific disciplines? how can they improve collaborative processes? what disciplinary constraints tend to work against the use of standards, and how can the two be accommodated?
  • the nature of text encoding as a form of text representation: what kinds of textual information can it represent well, poorly, or not at all? what disciplinary assumptions does it reify or expose?
  • the history and role of the TEI in the development of text encoding standards and practices: how is the TEI currently used, and what are its strengths and weaknesses as a representational system? how can it be adapted to specific disciplinary needs?
  • the central issues and problems in text encoding theory and practice: problems of transcription, editorial theory, textual materiality, textual authority, the relation between transcription and artifact
  • a hands-on introduction to TEI encoding, using materials appropriate to the specific audience such as rare books, manuscript letters, archival documents, and early periodicals.

Detailed samples of the proposed curricula are included in the Appendix.

This workshop series would build on existing work done by the Women Writers Project, and would give it a broader dissemination. The WWP is internationally known as a center of expertise in scholarly text encoding with nearly two decades of experience and research. Its digital collection, Women Writers Online, is a model of rigorous text encoding practice; its generic and chronological diversity of materials has forced the WWP to grapple with an extraordinarily broad range of text encoding challenges. The two lead instructors, Julia Flanders and Syd Bauman, regularly teach TEI encoding (for a detailed listing, see "Staff" below), and have already developed significant portions of the proposed curriculum. These workshops would draw on their experience and on the materials and explanatory models they have evolved, including the NEH-funded guide to TEI encoding for humanities scholars.

Rationale

Central to any treatment of scholarly text encoding is the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI, http://www.tei-c.org), whose Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange are the instrument of choice for capturing detailed, high-quality information about the structure and content of texts, and are in wide use among academic projects, digital library collections, and scholarly publications. The Guidelines and the XML encoding language they describe are an immensely powerful tool, enabling scholars in disciplines as varied as corpus linguistics, Greek prosopography, and Romantic poetry to share essential textual information with one another, and to share more detailed, discipline-specific information with their closer colleagues.

But how can humanities scholars learn what they need to know about digital textuality, in a way that does justice to the conceptual issues while grounding them firmly in a context of practice? Standards organizations like the TEI, while they provide extensive documentation on text encoding practice and applications of the TEI to scholarly materials, do not yet provide much documentation aimed at a novice audience, or at an audience whose goal is to understand the broader issues rather than apply the technologies themselves. There exist a number of regularly held workshops on the fundamentals of digitization and on TEI encoding; notable examples include the University of Virginia Rare Books School, Oxford University, the University of Victoria's Digital Humanities Summer Institute, and Brown University's introductory workshop (first taught last year). These events do attract faculty and graduate students from the humanities, demonstrating both the need for these workshops and their potential for success. But again, there do not yet exist workshops aimed chiefly at addressing the larger theoretical issues and connecting them explicitly with humanities research and scholarship. These issues may arise in discussion, but the bulk of the time is spent on the details of tagging practice, learning to design and apply schemas and stylesheets, understanding metadata formats, and similar pragmatic issues. Finally, because there is such a strong market for text encoding training among digital librarians and archivists, the existing workshops are often aimed at this audience, with the result that the pedagogical emphasis is on issues like the use of authority files, or the relation of TEI to library-oriented metadata standards such as EAD or METS.

Perhaps most crucially, the existing workshops do not provide much long-term support: after the workshop is over, participants may remain in informal contact with the instructors but there is rarely any formal context for ongoing consultation, discussion, or further training. Participants may learn a great deal in the few days of the workshop itself, but many participants find it difficult to retain the details or apply them substantively upon their return home. This post-workshop period represents a crucial missed opportunity to reinforce what has been learned and to encourage participants to follow up on their initial ideas of how to use text encoding in their own work. Participants could benefit from assistance in formulating grant-funded projects and writing proposals, from consultation on projects, and from guidance in further reading, research, and self-training.

The proposed workshop series would focus on the TEI Guidelines, while placing them in the larger social and intellectual context of academic text encoding, in which they play a complex role. The goal of the workshops is not to train scholars to be text encoders. It is rather to help scholars understand text encoding as an intellectual domain, as a methodology with a powerful but (at the moment) largely invisible impact on scholarly research, and to help them discover productive ways to enhance their work. The workshops will ground their curriculum in a hands-on exposure to text encoding fundamentals, to demystify this technology and encourage participants to explore it further on their own, but the emphasis throughout will be on considering the meaning and impact of text encoding as a scholarly practice. Several things make the proposed workshop program distinctive:

  1. Unlike other TEI workshops, this one will be specifically focused on the needs and interests of humanities faculty and graduate students. Participants will be encouraged to raise and examine particular issues that arise from their own disciplinary locations, and to bring materials from their own research to use as samples. For example, a scholar working on medieval manuscripts might raise questions about whether text encoding can provide an adequate representation of certain features, such as handwriting variation or multiple authorship. A faculty member interested in developing a curricular module to permit student editing and annotation of a challenging Renaissance poem might want to discuss how text encoding could permit multiple interpretive views of the same document. A scholar considering a digital edition of the poems of George Herbert might be concerned with the alignment of varying editions, and the kinds of editorial and transcriptional issues these would raise in preparing the edition. In some venues, it may be possible to focus the workshop on the challenges of one disciplinary area if there is sufficient local motivation (for instance, Renaissance manuscript materials, nineteenth-century periodicals). In other cases, the differences in research emphasis between participants may itself prompt a comparative look at how text encoding can support scholarly work. For example, scholars who work very closely with manuscript materials often find page images essential for detailed study of handwriting, paper quality, and revision history, but those whose work requires systematic comparison of versions need detailed encoded transcriptions. The challenges of reconciling these approaches, and the different kinds of meaning they confer on documentary artifacts, reveal some significant methodological boundaries that are well worth close examination.
  2. The program will be hosted by major humanities centers and academic conferences, whose organizers can help us reach the audience these workshops are designed to serve. (A list of planned venues is below; see Curriculum and Work Plan.) Humanities centers provide a strong infrastructure and an existing community of local and regional scholars, as well as the intellectual context of the other programs they run. In addition, they can help us to represent the content of the workshops in a way that captures its careful balance between the technical and the humanistic: too often, humanities scholars are reluctant to engage in activities which seem to be simply skills training, but situating the program within humanities centers can help make it clear that these workshops are as much about humanities research as they are about technology. This local groundedness will also allow us to focus the workshops on local interests and needs, and even (in at least two cases) to pair the individual workshops with local events such as a lecture series or symposium. We will encourage the local organizers to invite guest speakers or plan special events related to the workshop content that will enhance its value to their institution.
  3. The program will be taught by instructors who are deeply familiar with scholarly text encoding and have a long history of both teaching and using text encoding in an academic setting. The workshops and seminars they have taught in the past have provided a strong technical coverage for faculty and librarians who need to get up to speed quickly on TEI encoding, while contextualizing these skills theoretically and conceptually. Events in this program will foreground the conceptual and disciplinary issues even more clearly and make them the central focus of discussion. In this we will draw on the unique strengths of the WWP, which for nearly two decades has been a major center of text encoding research, recognized by its peers for its exceptionally thoughtful and thorough approach to scholarly text representation, and appreciated by its users as well for the detailed picture it offers of early modern documents. The group is now completing an NEH-funded project to produce a text encoding guide aimed at the scholarly community, which draws on this history and experience. In addition, the WWP's close relationship with the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown enables us to draw on STG staff experience in digital humanities research and scholarly project development.
  4. To reinforce what participants learn from the workshops and encourage further engagement with the text encoding domain, the proposed program would also involve a support structure of ongoing consultation and advice during the life of the grant and possibly beyond. At the start of the program we would establish a set of online resources and support services for participants, some of which would also be open to the public. These are described in more detail in Curriculum and Work Plan, but in brief they would include:
    • consultation on projects and grant proposals undertaken by participants; this would include assistance with developing fundable digital project ideas and with preparing successful grant proposals, consultation on digital projects of any size, including the participants' individual research.
    • an archived discussion list for participants to post questions and issues for discussion, and for the instructors to post followup information and responses.
    • a web site hosted by the Women Writers Project with resources for learning more about text encoding, specifically targeted at the audience for this workshop series.

The program also includes funding for expenses of workshop participation by graduate students, and funding to provide TEI membership for institutions where a workshop participant is planning to start a project. Funding for TEI membership will allow participants and their institutions to become more closely involved with the TEI and to access the additional support systems the TEI provides for its members; in addition, by supporting the TEI's programs, it gives added benefit to the broad community of TEI users and projects.

Significance for Humanities Scholarship

For humanities scholars, the digital text can no longer be treated simply as a black box. As digital resources assume more complex roles in our research, going far beyond simple access mechanisms and becoming an integral part of the way we work with textual materials, an understanding of digital textuality is becoming as essential as an understanding of scholarly editions, dictionaries, anthologies, and the other central forms of scholarly text. The principles of selection, encoding, and representation that guide the creation of resources like Early English Books Online (EEBO), Literature Online (LION), and JSTOR have a profound effect on how they are used, how we interpret the information they provide, and how we assess their value as scholarly tools. At the same time, humanities scholars need an understanding of digital textuality that emphasizes its continuity with the central issues of their disciplines, rather than its difference. Of all the technologies of digitization, text encoding has always had a particularly close and thoughtful relationship to the methods and practices of humanities scholarship. Debates about text encoding methods over the past two decades have had a formative influence on modern editorial practice, as recent work by Jerome McGann, Peter Shillingsburg, and others attests. In a sense text encoding is only incidentally "technological", being above all a representational system that aims to model textual information in a meta-textual, rather than non-textual form. The central issues in humanities text encoding draw strongly on editorial theory, on questions of textual materiality, on problems of reading and interpretation.

These issues are vividly present for humanities scholars in a variety of roles which are increasingly common: as faculty advisors to digital projects, as digital project directors, as grant reviewers, as contributors to digital collections, as teachers using digital materials in the classroom, as advisors of students working on digital media, and of course as readers of digital materials. In addition to these social roles, faculty members may find themselves wondering whether their own routine scholarly work might some day take a digital form, but having no idea how to imagine that form, or how to gain the requisite knowledge to do so, or what the costs and benefits might be. In all of these roles, a greater and more nuanced understanding of text encoding as a technology of humanities scholarship can help scholars become more knowledgeable and sophisticated leaders and participants in digital work: better able to create sound project plans and rationales, better able to produce high-quality digital work and oversee its production, better able to evaluate and use the results.

Clearly we are not yet at the point where this expertise is to become universal, but there has nonetheless been a crucial shift: understanding text encoding and technologies of digital representation no longer seems beyond the realm of humanities disciplinary expertise. It is not the purview of the geek or the technician, but a natural extension of the scholar's knowledge, much like a detailed understanding of critical editing. Where two decades ago, the domain of "humanities computing" was largely populated by practitioners who were self-consciously hybrids, occupying an uneasy (though intellectually fruitful) space between the humanities and technology, now that domain-reinflected as "digital humanities"-includes a strong contingent of humanities faculty whose interest in digital matters comes as naturally as their interest in literary theory or Freud.

Audience

This program and its individual workshops are designed to serve a broad audience. The common thread is of course an interest in understanding, using, and perhaps creating digital scholarly texts, but also, more broadly, an interest in the significance of medium in textual study-an issue which is of central importance to fields such as the history of the book, scholarly editing, manuscript studies, and many others. Technical expertise is certainly not expected, and those without it will not be positioned as novices relative to those who possess it; the goals of the workshop are above all to probe the signifying potential of text encoding, which is a conceptual rather than a technological task. While we expect humanities faculty to be the largest segment of the audience, we will also strongly encourage participation by graduate students. In addition, we anticipate some participation by librarians, archivists, and digital support staff who work with faculty; all of these groups have an interest in gaining a better understanding of the fundamental technologies and concepts of text digitization. Their distinctive concerns (for instance, with methods of sharing metadata or with problems of forward migration) would not be specifically addressed, but insofar as they share the fundamental concerns that motivate the workshop, they would find it fruitful.

The program would have a special usefulness to those with more immediate and directed interests in text encoding and digital matters:

  • those who have been asked to serve as project advisors for digital editions or collections
  • those who are interested in creating a digital project of their own, individually or as part of a group
  • those who use digital materials regularly in their teaching, and particularly those who are interested in having students create collaborative digital projects

While changes in the intellectual ecology of humanities disciplines are most quickly effected by reaching those who are currently in positions of authority-senior faculty, department chairs, those in administrative roles-the most far-reaching changes are achieved by reaching the next generation of scholars. For this reason, we are taking specific measures to ensure that graduate students have access to this workshop series, by providing funding for graduate student travel expenses (an average of two students per workshop). Graduate students located at the host institution will of course be welcomed and will not require funding support.

II. Institutional Profile

Brown University has a long history of influential research and projects in digital humanities and with the TEI in particular. Since the launch of the TEI in 1988, Brown has played a significant role in its development by contributing researchers to participate in workgroups, authoring and reviewing sections of the TEI Guidelines, and being among the earliest institutions with significant TEI projects and research efforts. More recently, with the creation of the TEI Consortium in 2000, Brown has been a strong institutional supporter, serving as one of four institutional hosts and contributing both funding and expertise to the TEI's work. Julia Flanders, Director of the WWP, has served on the TEI board as Brown's host representative since 2000, and served two years as Chair of the TEI. Syd Bauman, the WWP's lead programmer, has served as North American Editor of the TEI since 2001. Their work for the TEI has focused strongly on outreach and on the need to provide better support for scholarly and novice audiences.

This tradition of participation in the development of community standards emerges from a strong local culture of research on scholarly uses of technology. Brown's Scholarly Technology Group (STG) was founded in 1994 to provide innovative, high-level support for faculty research at the intersection of digital technology and humanities disciplines. The Women Writers Project was founded somewhat earlier (1988), and has its own substantial history of engagement with digital scholarly research methods and standards, focused on the TEI and in particular on the challenges of using the TEI to encode very detailed information about early printed sources to support advanced humanities research. For the past five years, WWP staff have been presenting a variety of TEI training workshops, both at Brown and at other institutions. The audience for these workshops has included humanities faculty from Europe, Asia, Canada, and the US, digital librarians, graduate students, archivists, and digital project leaders and practitioners. Julia Flanders and Syd Bauman have also provided TEI consulting services to a variety of projects, including assistance with grant proposal preparation, project consulting, training, documentation, and technical development. The WWP is now completing a TEI encoding guide for humanities scholars which can serve as a basis for training and support, and which will be used centrally in the workshop program being proposed here.

Together the WWP and STG currently form a strongly collaborative group that not only supports a range of faculty projects each year, but also provides advanced consultation to groups both inside and outside Brown, on issues broadly relating to technology and scholarly communication. The group is notable for the level of collaborative engagement between the technology researchers at STG and WWP, and the faculty with whom they work; several of the STG and WWP staff hold advanced degrees in humanities subjects and are not only able to engage with the connections between technical and scholarly methods, but are engaged in active research in this area.

III. Curriculum

The proposed program of workshops and seminars would be offered over the course of two years. To maximize exposure and enable attendance by a broader geographical range of participants, the workshops and seminars would be offered at humanities centers, digital humanities centers, and scholarly conferences in different regions of the US and Canada. At each event we expect a mix of attendees from the hosting institution and from institutions located in the region (within easy drive or a short plane flight), with the possibility of one or two attendees from further away. The events are open to faculty, graduate students, and staff. The target size for each workshop is 10-20 participants, but we can accommodate up to 35 if local accommodations permit.

We have secured commitments already for nearly all of the program events, from eight institutions and one conference. The institutions who have agreed to host events are the Transliteracies Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, the Center for the Humanities at the University of New Hampshire, the Stanford Humanities Center, the Digital Media Research Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M University, and the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. These have all made commitments to host events and provide event support, and in some cases they have made specific cost-sharing commitments. Their letters of commitment are included in the appendix. In at least two cases, the workshop will be held in association with another digital humanities event which will strengthen participation and provide valuable cross-fertilization. At the University of Saskatchewan, the workshop would be held in conjunction with the annual Congress for the Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences at which the Canadian Society for the History of the Book will be meeting. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, the workshop would be held as part of a larger colloquium hosted by the University of California Transliteracies project (directed by Alan Liu) and involving the Pepys Ballad Archive Project. These connections model the kinds of synergies we hope to exploit in the other workshop events as well. In addition, the organizers of the 2008 conference of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR) have committed to provide two consecutive conference sessions for an event in this program.

The remaining three events will be planned through further solicitation; prospective locations include the following

  • Center for the Humanities, Wesleyan University
  • Center for the Humanities, CUNY
  • Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, SUNY Binghamton
  • Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University
  • Humanities Institute, SUNY Stony Brook
  • National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park
  • Newberry Library, Office of Research and Education
  • Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin
  • Renaissance Society of America, 2008 conference (Chicago)

Humanities centers were chosen because they offer strong infrastructure for publicizing and supporting events of this kind as well as an established, often extended community of scholars. Scholarly conferences also seemed like a useful venue, since they too would enable us to reach groups of scholars with similar interests. We expect that typically workshops held at conferences will be shorter, more compressed, and less technical in focus than those held at humanities centers, since they will in most cases need to fit into the conference schedule (as is the case with the NASSR workshop, in which we have been allocated two consecutive conference sessions). The workshops and seminars do not form a series; each event stands on its own and requires no prior preparation except optional readings. However, as discussed below, the program provides follow-up support for participants which will help sustain a longer-term engagement with digital text issues.

The typical registration fee for the proposed program would be $250 for participants from outside the hosting institution, $100 for members of the hosting institution, and $50 for graduate students. The pricing is intended to be affordable, so as to diminish barriers to participation and to encourage faculty to attend even if they are not already directly engaged with digital issues. In some cases, the institutional host has indicated that they may only offer free and open events, and in these cases the fee would be waived. Faculty members would be expected to provide their own travel costs. To support graduate student attendance, the proposal budget includes funding for two graduate student stipends of up to $500 per event, funded by participant attendance fees. Funding will be offered to graduate students by application.

Materials for the workshops and seminars in this program will include:

  • readings on topics in text encoding, digital editing, digital representation of primary sources, and related topics
  • the Women Writers Project's guide to scholarly text encoding (published online) and also more abbreviated information on encoding for use in a classroom setting
  • for the hands-on segments, exercises in which the participants explore encoding both of primary sources and of materials they might author
  • selected sets of primary source materials (including those participants bring with them) for use in discussion and experimental encoding
  • encoding templates which provide skeleton documents and sample encoding and metadata, to make it easy for participants to learn by example and experimentation

The lead instructors for the workshops and seminars will be Julia Flanders and Syd Bauman. Both have been teaching scholarly text encoding for over a decade, and have been offering formal workshops and seminars involving humanities faculty for the past four years (see Project Staff for more detail). In addition, each event will feature a guest speaker, typically from the hosting institution, who will give a presentation designed to frame and enrich the discussion of digital methods and issues. These presentations might showcase local digital research projects, engage with the theoretical implications of digital technology, or examine a particular disciplinary crux from the standpoint of new digital research approaches. Having a local speaker will help attract interest and encourage participation, as well as forming a closer liaison between the content of the workshop event and the interests of the local scholarly community, and will keep travel costs to a minimum.

The curriculum for this program is organized around a core set of topics, to which further materials and issues can be added to suit local constraints and audience interests. We will offer several basic workshop and seminar options of different lengths, so that hosts can choose a configuration that best matches their needs. Each event is designed to stand alone, and to be a useful introduction to the fundamentals of text encoding theory and practice which will enable participants to have a more informed engagement with digital methods and resources even if they do not pursue the topic any further. But the program as a whole is designed to provide additional support for participants who either come to the workshop with an existing project or project idea, or who find that the workshop awakens in them a desire to know more and perhaps to undertake further practical experimentation.

Following their attendance in a workshop or seminar, all participants will have access to an ongoing support structure designed to make it easy for them to apply what they have learned or pursue the subject further. Our experience with faculty who are newly engaged with digital tools and methods is that integrating new approaches into research and teaching is a long-term process which benefits from ongoing discussion and support. The initial workshop will provide an intensive beginning to a learning process which may take much longer to sink in, and which ideally requires some reinforcement if it is to have any lasting impact. Support of this kind may be difficult to find locally; many faculty lack access to advanced support for digital methods at their home institution, and while they may receive support in using classroom technologies like WebCT, it is rare to find expertise in scholarly text encoding among the support staff at most universities. In addition, faculty who are interested in going further-whether to begin a private research project or to launch a larger collaborative effort-often have no idea how to begin, where to go for more information, or how to construct an effective funding proposal. To ensure that this program provides the maximum long-term impact, we will offer the following services to participants for the duration of the grant (and some will persist thereafter as well):

  • advice and assistance in conceptualizing digital projects at any scale, whether an individual digital publication or a sizeable project involving colleagues and extensive materials. Tools and systems now exist that make it feasible for individual scholars to create digital publications of some sophistication, with comparatively little assistance and technological investment; what they need is guidance at the initial stages. Access to responsive expertise from people who understand humanities scholarship can make all the difference in enabling faculty to act on creative and potentially groundbreaking ideas.
  • advice and assistance in developing a funding strategy and preparing grant proposals, including guidance in conceptualizing and describing the technical portion of their project in a persuasive and well-conceived way. This is a service that we have provided to scholars in the past, informally, through the TEI's grant assistance program. Over the past three years Julia Flanders and Syd Bauman have provided grant development advice to humanities faculty at the University of Oregon, the University of Nebraska, Brown University, Texas A&M University, Northern Michigan University, and McMaster University, and feedback from recipients indicates that they have found it very helpful.
  • consultation and advice on digital projects they undertake, whether grant-funded or not, such as support in developing appropriate encoding schemas to suit their project's needs, assistance in developing and documenting encoding practice for student assistants or collaborators, advice on the appropriate use of metadata standards, and strategic consultation on how to phase project development most efficiently. Consultation would typically take place via email or phone contact, but visits could be arranged if the participant could pay travel expenses. Travel expenses for this consultation would be outside the scope of this grant proposal.
  • a web site hosted by the Women Writers Project with supporting materials and resources for learning more about text encoding, specifically targeted at the audience for this workshop series. This would include readings, materials to support faculty in developing text encoding projects for classroom use, using WWO or other materials, online tutorials, access to the WWP's online scholarly encoding guide, annotated links to other projects' documentation, and any other support materials the participants request. These materials will be collected at the WWP web site and will remain available to the general public over the long term.
  • an archived discussion list which would provide a forum for questions and discussion with the project leaders and other program participants on issues and questions of common interest arising from their further investigations. This list might also provide a forum for further discussion of the issues raised in the workshops, but above all it would provide a welcoming space where participants could feel comfortable asking questions more freely than on some of the more technical listservs such as TEI-L. Although novice questions are welcome on TEI-L, the TEI community as a whole is fairly technically-minded and faculty members may not feel comfortable raising certain basic issues. In addition, TEI-L would not necessarily be a place to engage in the broader theoretical discussions that we hope to encourage within this program. This list would not be open to the public, but it would be open to subscription by request.
  • funding to provide an institutional membership in the TEI, if the participant is launching or engaged in an institutional TEI project. Member institutions receive discounts on software and TEI training, and may also send attendees free of charge to the TEI annual meeting and conference. For an institution that is undertaking increased involvement in digital research, participation in this program and TEI membership would constitute a valuable head start.

Because different venues will have different constraints of time and audience, we will offer several different event options, from one to three days long, with varying degrees of technical depth. All of the proposed events will provide a strong conceptual grounding in text encoding theory and its significance for humanities scholarship; in addition, the more extended events provide an opportunity for engagement with concrete practice and the more detailed issues this will necessarily bring to the fore. The events can be further adapted for audiences with specific disciplinary interests, such as manuscript studies, documentary editing, or pedagogical uses of text encoding. We sketch below the essentials of each event plan, and more detailed sample curricula are included in the appendix. In the following descriptions, we use the term "seminar" to describe an event that is primarily focused on discussion and presentation, and we use the term "workshop" to describe an event that contains a significant amount of hands-on work. We have already prepared materials covering the essential technical instruction, which forms the core of our regularly taught TEI workshops. The proposed workshop series would build on these and adapt them to a less technical humanities faculty audience, adding materials to address the theoretical and discipline-specific side of the workshops in more detail. The work involved in this preparation is included as part of the work for this grant.

Sample curricula