Manuscripts in the Digital Age: XML-Based Catalogues and Editions

This course provides a hands-on approach to working with medieval and early modern manuscripts in the digital context. The course invites participants to think about the structure of information contained in manuscripts as data and to explore new ways of engaging with manuscripts as unique artefacts and with their digital surrogates and data. The course builds on two main components: (1) creating XML-based catalog records and (2) preparing XML-based editions of texts, with or without an apparatus criticus, according to the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). In addition to hands-on learning with XML, participants are introduced to practical applications of XSLT to extract data from their datasets and to present this data in different formats such as a map, a stemma and a network diagram. Visits to the Special Collections of the Leipzig University Library are built into the course, during which participants work with original manuscripts as well as think about what the digital age means for studying manuscripts. There is also dedicated time to work with individual projects during the course, therefore participants are encouraged to bring their own material.

The course is aimed at humanities researchers who are newcomers to digital methods and may be of interest to both graduate students and more advanced scholars as well as librarians and archivists. The course requires no familiarity with encoding or programming. Previous experience in working with manuscripts is desirable (basic training in codicology, paleography and bibliography).

Week 1 will focus on cataloging manuscripts in the digital age. Participants will learn about different approaches to cataloging and critically engage with examples from various repositories in Europe and the US. The workshop will provide an introduction to the XML environment and train participants in applications of the TEI manuscript description module.

Week 2 will focus on editing medieval and / or early modern texts in the digital age. Participants will learn about different approaches to scholarly editing and critically engage with examples of various digital editions. The central aim is to train participants in the practices of transcription and mark-up of various texts both in prose and verse as well as creating a critical apparatus.

The Workshop in week 2 will be based on knowledge developed during week 1, therefore participants who want to attend exclusively the second part should demonstrate knowledge of the basics of XML and TEI as well as cataloging of manuscripts.