Editing Modernism in Canada


June 8, 2010

To infini-TEI and beyond

Jetlag keeps knocking me out before I can write anything on this beautiful new version of the EMiC community site, but I’ve finally managed to get my act together to post something …

Ever since reading about DHSI in the Chronicle of Higher Ed as “Summer Camp for Digital Humanists”, I’ve wanted to come here and hang out with a community of people who not only have the sharp critical intelligence borne of literary and humanistic training, but who can also do neat stuff with machines, and who don’t see an entrenched opposition between humanistic and computational analysis. To be able to attend DHSI with many of the other EMiC-ites makes the experience even richer. Working on Canadian material across the Atlantic, I rarely get the chance to be in the same room with more than two people who have even heard of the writers I study. It’s a rare pleasure to spend a week with people who have not only heard of the obscure authors whose work and lives fascinate me, but who are also enthusiastic about the potential of digital humanities tools to discover new things about this period of literary history that would be harder to find with the conventional analytical tools of literary analysis.

So far, DHSI has delivered on all my expectations and more. By the end of our first day of Text Encoding Fundamentals we’d already started to mark up our texts with XML. I launched merrily into letter #1 from the collection of correspondence I’ve begun to gather from archives around Canada, and immediately ran into half a dozen problems. How do you encode a date when you can’t be sure of the exact year? What if there is a paragraph break in the middle of the address from which the letter was sent? But Julia and Syd sorted most of them out. It’s exciting to finally get the encoding underway, and also reassuring that using Oxygen turns out to be as easy as falling off a log.

This morning I am looking forward to hearing Emily’s paper on the P.K. Page digital edition, and Hannah’s on attempting to unravel the authorship of Martha Ostenso’s works using stylistics analysis. If I had another research life to live over I would be a forensic linguist. (Why aren’t there CSI-style TV shows about forensic linguists? There really should be.)

Side project, if I can stay awake long enough in the evenings: learning Python from the Programming Historian site Dean told us about at TEMiC. Anyone want to join me?

One Response to “To infini-TEI and beyond”

  1. Emily Ballantyne says:

    Not going to learn Python in the evenings, though it is very commendable of you! Maybe another week. :) That being said, great post! It was interesting to hear about your experience with Syd & Julia. Glad they can help you overcome some of your intial issues. As a side note, I need to pay more attention on the title of my blog posts to make them clever like yours. :)

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