Editing Modernism in Canada


June 8, 2010

lunch-hour musing

The last two days have been an overwhelming combination of new information, new faces, and new ways of thinking about texts.  A relative novice to the field of digital humanities, my participation up to this point has been more on the process of digitizing physical texts and the training of undergraduate and graduate students in this process.  As I furiously try to transfer all of this new information from the receiving end of my noggin’ to the processing end, here is an initial thought:

Yesterday in “Text Encoding Fundamentals & Their Application” we learned that descriptive markup is based on a philosophy of the text: texts have a structure based on typography.  As readers we all have a fairly standardized kowledge of what those typographical codes are (i.e., we can easily identify the difference between a heading and a footnote).  Descriptive markup takes advantage of that shared or assumed knowledge in formulating its own codes.  This got me thinking about the ways that so much modernist literature works to disrupt such assumptions about the function of text.  Take Wyndham Lewis’s play with text in Blast, for example, where his imitations of advertising typography manipulates text direction and plays with multiple fonts (a style re-created even in our new EMiC website logo!).  I know I suffer from Watson-on-the-brain but both Sheila and Wilfred Watson as well as Marshall McLuhan all provide other examples of Canadian modernism’s challenge to typographical codes.  What sort of challenges do these purposeful breaking of typographical codes pose for digital humanists?  More importantly, how can our responses to those challenges reverberate back into digital humanities to enrichen the editorial practices of scholars in other disciplines, fields, etc.?

One Response to “lunch-hour musing”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily Ballantyne, Editing Modernism. Editing Modernism said: @isleofvan lunch-hour #dhsi2010 musings on modernism, descriptive markup, and typographic codes http://ow.ly/1VR8P #emic […]

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