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…

Corpus Part One: School Exercises and Princess of Persia

A while ago (here), I had promised to present the several corpora of our edition. I will begin today with one of the first we will go online with in the spring: the work manuscript of Ludwig Tieck‘s Roxane.

Although he is one of the major romantic authors in German Literature (he was even crowned “king of romantic”), Ludwig Tieck never benefited from the usual treatment reserved to major literary celebrities: unlike Goethe, Schiller, Friedrich Schlegel and co, he was never granted such a thing as a Ludwig Tieck Historisch-Kritische Ausgabe.

It would be preposterous to track this back to only one cause, but it is sure that the state in which his leftover papers are to be found at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK does not invite to any kind of systematical and exhaustive approach. A peek in the inventory realized by Lothar Busch shows how all of Tieck’s activities are thrown together. The poet, the drama author, the tale writer, the literary critique, the Shakespeare scholar are likely to be found in all sorts of texts, fragments, letters, sketches… Also, he was the depository of many of his dead friends’ papers (among which Kleist for instance, which he published after his death). Not everything in there is new, not everything is groundbreaking. But we already digged up two treasures.

Treasure number one is the manuscript of a drama called Roxane, which Johanna Preusse is preparing for our edition. It is a youth drama, and although it is undated, it seems to have been written around 1789. By that time, Ludwig Tieck was still a 16-year old schoolboy, and it seems likely that the drama was written as an extension of a school exercise on the theme “Write a variation on the fable of Ino” (on the fable of Ino, see Hygini Fabvlae, fab. II: Ino).

Other thematic influences are perceptible. The most important one is Felix Weiße’s tragedy Mustapha and Zeangir (1763). Especially the place chosen for the plot – an oriental setting in the wake of Montesquieu’s Persian Letters – as well as the main idea of the plot itself show Weiße’s wide influence. I will not tell you here about where Tieck differs from Weiße, because Johanna is about to write a great paper about it. Let me just tell you this: Roxane, the Sultan’s wife, is really mean!

The manuscript itself shows several peculiarities too. The first act is missing, so the reader has to jump in the midst of the action. But obviously, we are not the first ones to read it. There is more than just Tieck’s handwriting to be found on the pages. You can find traces of Rudolf Köpke‘s posthumous work on Tieck’s papers. And closer to the moment when the text was written yet, the margins also contain remarks in another hand. Lothar Busch and others assume it is the one of his youth friend Wackenroder, commenting on the plot, the protagonists, the writing,…

Unknotting the < note >


I am sure the suspense was unbearable, so here goes my post on the note-element.

For the TEI-geeks reading this blog: you have to bear in mind that we are a small project and couldn’t afford going into the subtleties of genetics or critical apparatus.

There were actually two layers of problems:
1) The most philologically troubling to me was the fact that you are supposed to encode very different textual elements with this < note > element: the footnotes of the author (in my example letter the part situated at the bottom of the page), the elements added by the people who at some point re-wrote (abridged, censored) the letter in order to publish it (here the part stroke in red ink), the elements added by the archivists along time (as for instance the foliation in pencil on my letter) and the comments we want to add to our edition, be it to explain in what book an extract was already published or what is the “Curiosität” mentioned on the first line for instance.

2) The second problem concerns the author’s notes. Of course, when the author has changed or added a single word, we don’t mark it as a < note >, but with an < add > element. So the question was: if < add > and < note > are so close elements, when does an addition cease to be an < add > and qualify as a < note >?

The first idea was to have different types of notes. Each < note > could thus be precised by a @type and a  @resp. To get back to my example, the footnote on the letter would have been a type=”author” (the @resp being obvious), the red ink a type=”second_hand”. And there was the problem: there are 2 persons who gave an edition of this letter and may be responsible for the red ink: either the addressee – or the sender, but then he would have added this red ink stroke much later than he actually wrote this letter. There was no way this solution would not draw us into a black whole of endlessly more complex @types, @subtypes and @resp.

And then came this:

Laurent, who is obviously in a @hand-phase (didn’t convince me at first, but now I am starting to see the point), suggested that we use the < note > element connected to a @hand to describe the different text layers from the author’s hand, being thus able to give an exact account of the temporality of the writing process. The @resp attribute was to be used only for the notes we add to the text (in the form: type=”comment” resp=”anne.baillot”). Laurent was unsure what to do with all the other people mixing up between the author and us. But at that point, it was obvious to me that the separation between @hand and @resp was good way to sort the things you can actually see on the manuscript from the additional information, and so we will use the @hand to describe all we can see on the manuscript and the @resp for all the immaterial input.

If you have been following me so far, this is the point where you should say: But wait, this is not a solution the add/note problem at all. Things are not so clear there. The idea to sort < add > and < note > according to their position on the manuscript (“Lage” in Laurent’s schema) is not sufficient – we are too often encountering end of sentences added in the margin AND complete new paragraphs written in the margin. Defining it by the context is a slippery slope as well: this involves so much interpretation that we would not be able to keep it coherent within the whole project. The aim now is to define for each subproject what are the habits of each author in this regard and determine according to that when to use < add > and when to use < note >.

The manuscript I used here is a letter written be the poet and drama author Ludwig Tieck to his friend Friedrich von Raumer in the year 1823 (or 1824, look into the part in red ink on top of the letter). It is preserved in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK and part of the first series of texts we will edit (in the subproject “Tieckiana”).

PS: I allowed myself to add the 6 happy girls on Laurent’s original.