Patching Part One: This Edition

While migrating my blog to, I seem to have lost some of my original posts  in the meanders of the world wide web. Here are two of them explaining the big idea of this edition:

#1: What’s in there for you?

Dated Oct. 5th, 2011

I intended to present each corpus of the edition in detail, but I have decided to start with an overview.

The digital edition reflects only partly the four big orientations of the project itself. Those four questions are:

1) To what extent did the creation of the University contribute to the representation and understanding the teachers and professors developed of themselves as Intellectuals?

2) To what extent did this self-consciousness of Prussian intellectuals construct itself as a reaction to the French presence in Prussia? (what is meant by that is of course not only the military presence of Napoleonian troops, but also the scholarly and literary domination of Berlin by the French since Frederick II.)

3) Which strategies were developed to establish oneself as a writer? (trying to differentiate here between male and female strategies)

4) How can you gain a political statement from a scholarly or literary work?

I conceived those four focus points before I even hired my team. They brought their own interests and research history: Anna Busch has already written her dissertation on the publisher Julius Eduard Hitzig (see her blog), Selma Jahnke is working on a dissertation on Helmina von Chézy (yes, this is a wikipedia link – in German though) and Sabine Seifert is also working on a dissertation on August Boeckh (and here I am very sorry to have to put the English wikipedia link since it is not accurate: his name is NOT Philipp August, but just August – Sabine will explain that at some point) and Friedrich von Raumer. And there are other people on the team, working on smaller subcorpora for their Bachelor or Master thesis…

Then the digital edition came along, not as a small byproduct, but as our common project. We have divided it in the following subcorpora (which I will present in more detail in further posts):

1) The French in Berlin: this corpus is destined to contain several subcorpora that will (hopefully) shed light on the different aspects of this presence. The first one (planned for the first deliverables) will be an important part of the passive correspondance of Louis de Beausobre which I found at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK (since I can’t seem to find a wikipedia link on Louis de Beausobre, I will post on him soon, promise).

2) Science and politics: this is Sabine’s corpus, dealing with the way University professors and Academy members took part in politics on an Academical level.

3) Romantic texts: this is Anna’s corpus, mainly work manuscripts she found at the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin in the Hitzig papers. At least one of the texts will be published in March 2012.

4) Friday Society: this corpus contains the correspondence of this literary and scholarly society that met in Berlin between 1802 and 1849.

5) Tieckiana: this subproject contains various works and letters by the Romantic writer Ludwig Tieck that were not published so far or published only in a shortened/censored version. We will publish the youth drama Roxane and the correspondence with his friend Friedrich von Raumer in March 2012, both coming from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK.

New corpora are intended to be added in a later step: Classics Lecture Notes (lectures given by F.A. Wolf and Solger in the summer 1818 will come first) and unpublished texts and letters by the Romantic writer Adelbert von Chamisso are the ones that should be added next.

You can learn more about those corpora and about the way we connect them to our teaching if you come by our poster (I will be there together with my TEI expert Sabine) at the TEI MM and annual conference in Würzburg next week!


#2: Digital Edition “Das intellektuelle Berlin um 1800”

Dated Sept. 23rd, 2011

The Digital Edition of the junior research group is a work in progress. It is probably bound to stay a work in progress for a long time, but we hope to go online with a first set of texts by the beginning of 2012.

This edition has two main aims. The first one is to make texts available that have not been published so far or have only been partially published. The second aim is to use the newly published corpus to develop methods that can help describe the intellectual networks in Berlin at the beginning of the 19th century in a more accurate way.

The picture on this page shows a screenshot of what the front-end of the edition should roughly look like: the darker orange upper border lists the different corpora; the lighter orange one allows different types of access to the queries. The main window is composed of a digitization of the manuscript on the left side and its transcription on the right side. The transcription can be visualized either in a form that is totally adequate to the manuscript (“diplomatisch”) or in a commented form (“kritisch”) or in the form of the originary XML-file.

I will be posting our specific encoding guidelines soon. They reflect our restless efforts to respect the TEI-Guidelines without getting lost in details…

Adios, Würzburg

So here goes, heading beack home (and already dreading the trip with the Deutsche Bahn)!

What I will remember of my first TEI conference:

1) Big projects and small projects do not really have the same workflow problems but in the end, we all end up trying to figure out a way to use the TEI-P5 guidelines without increasing their volume too much by adding this and that proposal for a complement because what we actually need is not described there yet. Which leads me back to the questions of what standards are actually there for. I can’t think of a definite answer to that. Do we need a communication basis or a completely unified system? The irritating part is of course that the guidelines will give you 3 ways to encode one thing and none to encode another and you have to make the best ot of that situation for your project.

2) Long time archiving is a problem for everybody. I suspected that before and I think that considering it is a general problem, it should not be the job of the project managers to find their own little solution, but a problem for larger infrastructures like DARIAH in Europe to take care of.

3) There are so many cool problems connected to encoding. As a project manager, I am very busy keeping everything working at all and do not really have time to think profoundly about the hermeneutical implications of each and every decision we make but somehow it still has to do with what the early 20th century scholars did when setting standards for critical editions. We are in the process of redefining philology – the problem is, we are so in it that it is difficult to reflect it. But if anything, that would be the one theoretical question that would interest me right now.

4) The <note> element is really a problem, not just for us. I will post on that later and I promise to do so on the Special Interest Group Manuscript list as well.

5) Posters are a cool way to get to present your project in a way that the person you are talking to gets the information he/she really wants. We should have more of those non-authoritative kind of scholarly communication in the traditional humanities. But it still is a challenge to stand next to James Cummings!

6) Würzburg reminds me too much of the city I grew up and got endlessly bored in as a teenager. I want to get back to Berlin!

Slim Slam

(This is the 1-minute epos I presented in the poster/poetry slam preceding the poster session at the TEI conference in Würzburg)
Once upon a time there were six brave girls
Working in such caves they call archives.
A good fairy came along and said, through his beard,
Come, miladies and hear the tale of the TEI,
For with the Guidelines you may
Alas! We followed the siren’s voice
And not only digitized letters
But could also make the choice
What could cure our distress?
Not even the poor students
That we taught at great expense
Of time, ’cause peekaboo:
See, they are infected too,
The disease has spread all over!
Come to our poster!!


Digital Editions Session Part 2

It seems to me that the different projects presented so far each try to deal in their different way with the dilemma of simplicity vs. complexity. The paper of Bertrand Francois Gaiffe and Béatrice Stumpf, mostly a technical one, showed the difficulty of trying to on the one hand simplify the TEI part (using TEI-tite) and on the other hand enriching it with the tools they need.

The last paper of the section was given by Matteo Romanello and Aurélien Berra. They presented an ongoing edition project of Athenaeus as the meeting of a Digital Humanist and a Classics scholar, starting by quoting Gregory Crane. The text itself is a compilation and the quoting system was a great incentive to make it a digital edition. The editors are – suitingly – using a wide range of quotation forms (<q>, <quote>, <cit>, <mentioned>, and several others). The complexity connected with the genre of the fragment, though abismal, was presented very clearly (somehow I tend to consider that people who are able to explain the problems clearly are not that far away from the solution).

Even they are not moving withing the limits of the TEI, asking for their project “what TEI should be combined with to create not only an edition but a complex virtual editing environment”. They mentioned the Homer Multitext Project and went in more detail into the CTS procotol, which they use and intend to “go beyond”. A beautiful project still waiting for a funding to make it real.

Digital Bundle

Here are links to digital editions that were mentioned in the course of the day:

Klagenfurt edition of the works of Robert Musil
Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA) – in the Chinese Buddhist version!
Letters of Van Gogh (ah, the Van Gogh letters!)
Mark Twain Project (Autobiography of Mark Twain)
Henrik Ibsen’s Writings (Maximum Edition online, Minimum available in print)
Edition project of the Works of Thomas Le Roy (still virtual, presented here)
Digital Edition of Slowenian Literature
The Homer Multitext Project

And I came accross the Catalog of the Scholarly Digital Editions while browsing.