Editing Modernism in Canada


June 8, 2010

IMT and the P.K. Page Digital Edition

Well team, I tried to give us a good plug at this morning’s talk.  Given the large size of our contingent this year, I thought it was important to let people know a bit about the project as a whole.  And, it also gives us a chance to define ourselves for ourselves, and remind us of who we represent while we are here.

Though I don’t know how to do it, I am going to attempt to post some of the sections from my talk today on the blog.  They provide a taste of the IMT, which we will get a bigger helping of on Friday when Zailig & Meg give us a quick peek into the project in its current development.  This also helps follow in Dean’s footsteps in the reconfiguration of his talk as a blog post.


Instead of large bulky volumes, the Collected Works of P.K. Page project intends to produce inexpensive print volumes published by the small press Porcupine’s Quill that are based on a hypermedia archive housed through the EMiC website.  These selected texts are highlights that can be used in classrooms and can be enjoyed by a general reading public without a scholarly interest in Page’s work.  The hypermedia archive, which will allow free access to the complete body of Page’s work, is the baby of this project.

My role in this project is essentially to provide a trial (super-trial!) run.  Since we are still in the preliminary stages, I am going to walk you through some of the tools we plan to utilize, and will begin by explaining the editorial approach I bring to the project.

The project I produced as a component of my Master’s thesis is a small edition of poetry and poetry fragments that were written in 1957 by P.K. Page.  Working with original poetry manuscripts from Library and Archives Canada, I am interested in tracing the writing processes of P.K. Page. I want to write the story of the composition of a page of Page, attempting to mark out the sequential stages that a text goes through as it is being written.

Out of a desire to reject the concept that a work has one, finalized artistic form, the genetic editorial tradition that I draw from seeks to represent in a readable way, every version of the text available.   For this type of work, developing a clear method of transcription is most important.  In many ways, it is the inaccessibility of these editions that is the biggest fear of the editor.  Because genetic editors become so immersed in the field and have specific technical knowledge from extended research, remaining comprehensible is important.  A clear method of transcription needs to be both consistently used by you, the author, as well as understandable by a readership that does not have your technical knowledge.

At this stage in the project, each of Page’s poems has been transcribed using this system, which will now be converted into TEI to be represented digitally.  Extending far beyond a basic digital apparatus, the Collected Works digital archive will be a digital edition of every version of every page of Page that can be made available.

The digital toolbox we will draw from to create the online hypermedia archive will include TEI mark-up of each page, including specific TEI coding for genetic editors, the digitization of P.K. Page’s Complete Fond by Library and Archives Canada, as well as UVic’s own Image Mark-up Tool.  I will touch on each of these briefly.

The TEI encoding will provide the basis of our project.  Hopefully, we will collaborate with the already existing genetic editing TEI workgroup to develop and use tags that are specific to social text and genetic editing.  Some particular challenges we have encountered so far with the TEI include issues with overlapping hierarchies and attempting to figure out how to categorize a particular page.  With Page’s travel writing, for example, an image, poetry and prose might all occur on the same page.  This makes it difficult to determine what category the item falls into.

Another very key issue is the intention of our edition.  We aren’t interested in a diplomatic transcription of the page, but instead are interested in the literary structures of that page.  For example, it is irrelevant to the genetic editor whether Page crossed out a line and wrote a new one over top, or if she drew an arrow that points to the new revision.  The markings she uses to represent additions, deletions and changes in layout are not as important to us as describing the physical process the text went through.

To make our editorial process more apparent, as well as to give people access to the markings on the page, the digital archive will combine both image and text.  Thanks to the Library and Archives Canada, the P.K. Page fonds will be the first to be made entirely available digitally. With scanned images, this will allow all scholars to work with the same primary materials we had access to, and allow comparison between the genetic edition we have created and the original text.  In some ways, working with these scans is superior to working with the originals.  We can scan in on minute details, as well as compare different versions of the poem that may be housed in different locations.

And finally, and most excitingly, the Collected Works will be using the Image Markup Tool to combine image and text on the same page.  This will allow the genetic transcriptions we provide to be instantly accessible as a layer on top of the original image itself.

This collaboration, which has been facilitated by the EMiC project, will allow us to produce a tool which adheres to best practices in TEI markup but which has a simple enough interface that it can be used by EMiC participants with limited experience in editing XML code. The publication engine will link page images, transcriptions and annotations in an interactive interface, and will include features for navigating multiple versions of a source text.

I have included some screen shots to show how we use the IMT, and how the work produced by IMT will be presented in a browser window.

The Original Poem in a Form Similar to the One Provided by the LAC

To start, here is a high quality digital image of a page of Page’s poetry produced using a high quality scanner.  Viewing this page online, instead of using a photocopy a variety of textual features become apparent.  I can immediately identify that Page used two types of ink, and therefore made two distinct sets of revisions.  I can clearly make out the doodle and determine that it is not part of the text.  And, finally, I can locate this text within its particular time and place of composition.

The Text Marked Up Genetically

The next photo is of the genetic markup of the slide.  In the digital archive, this would be available as its own entity as a central part of the edition.  Here the colour coding and numbering allows us to identify the number of changes made to a particular line, as well as to easily identify text that was not revised.  It also allows us to focus on the text itself, instead of being distracted by the details on which the original work was composed.

Marking up the Image in the IMT

The Work in Progress: The Image in the IMT

This photo shows the process of working with the Image Mark-Up Tool.  The current version available allows us to create rectangular boxes around sections of text and then allows us to annotate them.  In this slide here, we are able to identify a revision and code it using both TEI and our own genetic mark-up language.

What it Might Look Like on the Web

And, finally, here is how the page will look in a browser.  As you can see, by scrolling over sections of text, you can have the transcriptions “pop up” as layers on top of the image.  This functionality is going to be further developed to allow for other types of non-rectangular shapes, as well as to allow even more layers of text to be compiled on top of the image.  In this way, textual and explanatory notes, links to other versions of the text, as well as definitions and other social text features can all be accessible from one page in the edition.

Though the project is still in its preliminary stages, we have invested a lot of time into exploring our options to create a new flagship project for the future of editing Canadian authors.  It is a very exciting time for Page scholarship, and for those of us interested in Editing Canadian Modernism.  Woot woot!

(PS, a big thanks to Zailig for the screen captures!)

One Response to “IMT and the P.K. Page Digital Edition”

  1. Dean Irvine says:

    Stellar work, Emily. What a wonderful way to showcase EMiC’s training initiatives and digital tool development. I definitely think we’ll be offering a specialized course next year for EMiC participants and others interested in using IMT. By then you’ll be ready to teach it yourself!

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