Thursday, 16 October 2014

Text Encoding Workshop with James Cummings

We were extremely fortunate last Friday to have Dr James Cummings with us to conduct an intensive, one-day workshop on the Text Encoding Initiative and show us how to mark up texts for digitisation. James is the Senior Digital Research Specialist in IT Services at the University of Oxford, and having been involved in an impressively wide range of digital projects (The Bodleian First Folio, The ENRICH Project, The Holinshed Project, The Stationers’ Register Online, to name only a few), he is a guru of the Text Encoding World and well placed to share his experience with us.

The workshop in Swallowgate was well-attended by research postgraduates and academic staff, and we were initiated into the mysteries of the TEI core elements, TEI metadata for manuscript description, TEI named entities, and TEI customization. A series of practical exercises allowed us to use the oXygen XML editor to create basic XML files, produce detailed TEI headers, and mark up the names of people and places. James was an enthusiastic teacher and managed to share his passion for the subject with us even as he made our heads spin with information about the numerous entities and attributes which were suddenly on the screens before us. I for one was pleased as Punch to produce a nicely marked up (“well-formed” and properly formatted) version of Wilfred Owen’s “Strange Meeting” as the result of the first exercise – who’d have thought I’d be doing this to a poem I studied so many years ago for my SCE English ‘O’ Grade!
Poem, Strange Meeting, by Wilfred Owen, as a TEI file.
My homework:  "Strange Meeting," by Wilfred Owen, as a TEI file.

The workshop was the first of a series of three which I plan to run this year to offer training for researchers in how to use a variety of digital humanities tools. Mia Ridge from the Open University will hold a workshop on Data Visualisation for Analysis in Scholarly Research on May 6, 2015, and a workshop on Geo-referencing and Digital Mapping is also planned for later this Session. All the workshops are funded by a Research Innovation Grant from CAPOD.

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