Posts Tagged ‘James Cummings’

Literary Review of James Cummings’ The Text Encoding Initiative and the Study of Literature

In Literary Review on March 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Having talked about TEI, XML and other such coding initiatives in class for a few weeks did make it easier to understand some of what James Cummings was referring to in his article, however, I did find a lot of the information a little difficult to digest. I would certainly feel that sometimes there was a little too much detail given, such as the example, where the depth of the detail simply led to more confusion. The article was perhaps to in depth for someone looking for a basic understanding of the concept of TEI, and would have no doubt been of more benefit to someone with a greater prior knowledge of TEI. However, based on my limited knowledge, I picked out a few interesting points whilst going through the article.

The fact that TEI develops based on the needs of different projects was interesting, especially when thinking back to the Alan Liu article and considering the development of new media from spoken word, to writing, etc. which was identified as arising from the various needs of generations. The idea of a community development of TEI, with different projects ‘customising’ the language to use it for specific needs was also interesting, showing the flexibility in the mark-up, although it did make me think ahead to the point that would be made later that this surely would (and seemingly does) create problems when looking at the concept of interoperability.

I felt somewhat justified in my bemused feeling when reading that there can be a lot of confusion caused for new users of TEI, especially when it came to the concept of using specialised or generalised modules. I wasn’t able to digest this on the first reading, but perhaps another reading of the text would solve that problem.

It was interesting to see the responses to TEI as an information system which could be seen as damaging the creative/imaginative test, yet in my mind I would have seen TEI as much more of a supplement to the imaginative text, which allows further investigation and exploration. It was somewhat fitting that TEI was described as an interpretative system, reminding me of an imaginative piece of text, such as a poem, being very much open to interpretation as well. The ambiguity resulting in this interpretation, and then later in the discussion of customisation where the same problem arose, was quite insightful.

Though much of this article went sailing over my head, it did give a solid foundation in establishing what the goals of the TEI were and also gave a comprehensive examination of the pros and cons. Many of these were pretty self evident, but it did raise some interesting issues that I would not have considered. A second reading would definitely be needed, but a good introduction, if not a little too in-depth. The article would most probable have benefited from better structuring, introducing a smoother learning curve, beginning with a more basic assessing of TEI before launching in to the specifics provided in the essay.

This article can be found here.