A Review of James Cummings’ “The Text Encoding Initiative and the Study of Literature”

In this article, I looked at James Cummings text encoding initiative. The article as a whole may seem somewhat daunting to those who don’t have a great understanding of this particular subject, and certainly there is material that is in the article that is confusing to say the least, however if one reads down through it slowly you begin to get a understanding of what Cummings is saying. Therefore, what exactly is TEI (text encoding initiative?) .Well Cumming’s at the start of the article tells us the history of TEI and where it came from? TEI is a text centric community of practice in the academic field of digital humanities, and in his article, he states that it has been around for a long period, even before the World Wide Web was created.                                                                                                 He goes on to talk about the TEI guidelines, which are used throughout many encoding projects, especially in the Arts and Humanities. TEI has been around longer then the world wide web it has influenced many of the web standards that we see and use today, for example XML. Cumming’s found that the second TEI would have taken up too much space within this article, therefore he focuses on the history and various issues. Not exactly understanding what the TEI was, I found it quite hard to understand what Cumming’s was saying when he was describing the TEI guidelines, so instead of trying to decipher Cummings words to try make sense of it, I decided to look up TEI myself through other sources and websites which benefited my understanding of TEI.
In the article Cumming’s talks about the principles of TEI (the Poughkeepsie principles) and although TEI Guidelines will inevitably change, they will overall stay true to the initial design goals. Throughout, Cumming’s stresses that at its core the TEI is a community-led organization, and this is seen in all different areas of its activity. It has members ranging from groups to individuals who pay continuation of the consortium. One of the TEI’s enduring legacies has been the way in which it helps us in our understanding if a certain text, this crucial understanding — that print textuality is not language but an operational (praxis-based) theory of language — has stared us in the face for a long time, but seeing we have not seen. It has taken the emergence of electronic textualities, and in particular operational theories of natural language like TEI, to expose the deeper truth about print and manuscript texts”. Mc Gann. What we are doing is using a different language to interpret things, for example The <title> element is said to contain “the full title of a work of any kind,” but since it does not further define what a “title” means, this only adds to the suggestion that mark-up is in fact a act of interpretation.
Therefore, looking at TEI, it does seem to give a foundation from which editors, scholars and others can carry out the study of literature through digital means. James Cumming’s is convinced that this is the way forward, stating that more digital editions will be created in the future, noting that as the study of literature becomes even more digital in our present world, it is our responsibility to ensure as much as possible that this method of editing is based on truly scholarly electronic editions which have both the reliability and service expected of them.
In summing up James Cumming’s article I have to say I found it interesting, and although some of the material he has written about may have been hard to understand at first, I must say that eventually I had a good take on it. In studying computer science, I found it gave me an advantage in terms of understanding what Cumming’s was portraying in terms of interpreting language for example <p>and <title> etc. Overall, I really enjoyed the article’s insight into this ever-changing world.

This Article can be found here:


A Review of Aimee Morrison’s Blogs and Blogging: Text and Practice

I found Aimee Morrison Blogs and Blogging: Text and practise to be extremely interesting. It portrayed the world of blogging and all that it entails. I found the article not just interesting but somewhat helpful, as a person who had not blogged or set up a blog before it was fun to read and take on the whole concept of blogging from her point of view. It gives a insight into the history of what blogging is. I found it fascinating to read that one blog is created every second and that nearly 54 million were published in 2006 alone, which left me asking the question “where have I been the last few years”. The article shows that blogging has become extremely popular with students, ranging from undergraduates to graduates. It was extremely interesting reading Pew’s research into the type of people that actually set up blogs, saying blog authors disproportionately manifest in one or more of the following demographic characteristics, they are young, male, have access to high-speed internet connections, have been online for more than six years, are financially prosperous, and have high levels of education. It also shows that a lot of students have personal diary blogs in addition to profiles on MySpace and Facebook, it basically is trying to say that many of the bloggers of today are actually students.
From my reading of the article one aspect that struck me was the piece about the 2004 presidential election. During this period there was a huge increase in political blogging. The blog gave people the foundation to voice their opinions on the matter but also look and take in other peoples points of view. Aimee Morrison’s article also highlights the different types of blogs that can and have been created over the years. It seems that due to the popularity of blogging there has been a demand to create certain genres of blogs for people to read and write, like Jeremy Williams and Joanne Jacobs says “the great beauty of blogs is their versatility,” and they lay out yet another taxonomy based on who is writing and what about: among the authorship categories they discern “group blogs, family blogs, community blogs, and corporate blogs,” as well as “blogs defined by their content; e.g. ‘War blogs’ (a product of the Iraq War), ‘LibLogs’ (library blogs), and ‘EduBlogs” People set up blogs to suit their own needs and also set up the best blog that will get their point of view across.

The huge surge in blogs has created the different genres that are now out there, they range from blogs dedicated to journalism, politics, and tabloid form gossip, but also on the other spectrum of the blogosphere we see the personal blogs. These are blogs that reflect an online diary that people set up and the article also highlights that these people are happy to blog about their personal feelings, thus it seems there are two spectrums to the bloggosphere, personal blogs and non personal blogs. In the article Aimee Morrison states that almost seventy five percent of personal bloggers will talk about such things as “Family and home,” “Events in their life’s” and “Religious beliefs,” while on the other hand fifty percent of non-personal bloggers will decide to talk about “News,” “Entertainment and Arts,” and “Government and Politics”.

Finally Morison looks at the impact blogs and blogging has on literary studies. She says that there is great potential for literary reading, writing and also literary research. It therefore gives people the opportunity to discuss literary matters and gives them the chance to access information through the various blogs. Like I said before, when I read this article I had no real concept of what blogging was, the article revealed how it could be used in certain ways e.g. politically, personally, or through literary ways. The article certainly showed me that there is much more to blogging then I originally thought, thus enhancing my perception of the concept.Aimee Morrison’s Article

Kenneth Price “Electronic Scholarly Editions”

In this piece, I will be examining Kenneth Price’s article on digital scholarly publication. I must say that it took some time to fully understand what the article was trying to portray in terms of digital publication and it certainly took more than one reading of the article for me to try and grasp his concept. If we look at Price himself, he teaches American literature and culture. It is obvious that Kenneth Price has special interests in Walt Whitman, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature, and digital humanities. He co-directs the Walt Whitman Archive, a long-term effort to edit Whitman’s works on the Web.
From my reading, it seems Price believes that there are endless possibilities where electronic editions are concerned, it seems that Price makes certain valid arguments for electronic editions, one of which is that there are no more boundaries to what people can produce and put on a page, people can afford to produce within the economics of print publishing. We see that colour images can be screened on the page if they have the adequate equipment, and this is seen as a huge advantage for electronic editions as it is extremely expensive to even put one colour image on book publications. It is also interesting to note that there is a large amount of collaboration involved when undertaking an electronic scholarly edition. It is an enterprise that is based on the work of many different agents in an attempt to create an electronic edition, that for an edition to be successful it cannot be therefore created by just one person, for example: academic administrators, funding agencies, undergrad students, librarians can all add something to an edition that is being created, and are in most cases a vital part in the process of creating one.

Although this could be seen as a disadvantage, the fact that the creation of an electronic edition means that a lot more people need to be involved, it also could be viewed that these people are the necessity that is needed to produce such works like an electronic scholarly edition, and personally from reading Kenneth Price’s piece I would be of the opinion that although creating an electronic edition means more individuals are needed, the clear fact is that this method is substantially less expensive than that of a print edition, However a crucial point is raised by Price, that although scholarly work is free for use, it is not free to produce, and it is this problem which is the main drawback for electronic editions. If one undertakes a truly ambitious project, how can it be paid for?

It was interesting to read Prices take on the topic of awarding grants, it seems he is not entirely convinced by it, as he sees that many of the grants that are awarded are done through unfair methods e.g. political bias. Some writers for instance may be overlooked in terms of grants as they may be seen and perceived to be controversial. He offers an interesting solution in terms of university presses, where the university itself gets grant funding and internal support for electronic editing, and although this concept is in its early days, he sees it as an important step and experience. The electronic form of publishing seems to be the way forward, just like the E-book it seems electronic editions are set to grow and grow judging from the evidence that Kenneth Price has put forward.

A lot of what is so appealing about digital scholarship is not yet realized Price states, but can be glimpsed in suggestive indicators by what the future may hold. He states that we are in a world that is ever changing and says that there is plenty of room for creativity in this area, he also says that it is of extreme importance that electronic scholarly editions adhere to international standards, he also makes reference to Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) and Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and extensible Mark-up Language (XML).This section of the article may seem to be the most confusing part to understand, however Price is saying that the integration of these formats are vital if electronic editions are to be fulfilled in the future.

“Electronic Scholarly Editions”,

My Experience

Looking back on the seminar as a whole I was extremely happy that I had the opportunity to carry out my work involving textualities. As someone who was not famililiar with the course, I was somewhat sceptical about what I could actually achieve by taking this seminar, however it has given me a different insight into books and reading as a whole, for example I covered the notion of digital reading for my personal project, and at the beginning I could not tell you two characteristics about E reading, but through my research I was fascinated by what this industry actually offers people and gradually I began to learn much about the concept. Another aspect from my time in the course that I enjoyed was the fact of setting up a blog and actually blogging for the first time. Again a novice in this area I had never blogged anything before, and found this method of expressing one’s information extremely interesting and useful. The interaction with fellow students also in terms of the personal project and during class time was also refreshing. Unlike other seminars that I had taken, I found the hands on approach in terms of blogging more interesting. The reviews also gave me a good insight into digital editions in terms of literature, although I picked three, each article I read I respected, as the people writing them gave their own personal opinions on certain matters which ultimately helps give a greater understanding.
The three articles I decided to discuss appealed to me the most, James Cumming’s argument about TEI helped me understand the actual logistics of publishing, and being a computer science student would have explained my interest and why I selected it for my blog. The other two articles were equally as helpful Kenneth Price’s article appealed to me as I could relate the material, to that of the work I covered during my personnal project e.g. electronic editions and digital reading. The reading of Aimee Morrison’s article was helpful in understanding what blogs were, the article showed what blogging was and what it could be used for in terms of political, social, personal etc. Overall looking back, I really found my time spent in textualities interesting and it certainly gave me an insight into a world I had not seen or used before.


Price, Kenneth “Electronic Scholarly Editions”, A Companion to Digital Literary Studies, ed. Ray Siemens, Susan Schreibman. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.  Online

Morrison, Aimeée “Blogs and Blogging: Text and Practice” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies, ed. Ray Siemens, Susan Schreibman. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.  Online.

James Cumming’s “The Text Encoding Inititive and the study of literature”

Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.  Online.