Text Encoding Assignment

In this project, each student will encode a short archival document according to the TEI guidelines. You should select a document that relates to some moment in The Tempest. Students will work on project teams to make collaborative decisions about how they wish to encode their texts—deciding, for example, how to handle spelling regularization, representation of typographic features, encoding of linguistic features and named entities, and modeling of textual structures. Students will also be asked to identify and encode significant analytical categories for their documents and make decisions about how they want their texts to be displayed online. Students will explain their encoding decisions by adding comments directly in the XML file and will write a brief (500 to 800 word) reflective response at the end of the assignment, discussing how their experience with encoding has shaped their understanding of both their archival document and Shakespeare’s Tempest.

The goal of this assignment is to give you a chance to explore text encoding and archival materials while developing your own understanding of how markup can facilitate different kinds of analysis. It’s also an opportunity for you to get some hands-on experience with text encoding and digital scholarly publication. You’ll have the chance to extend the conversations we had in class regarding representations of gender, colonial, and racial identities in early modern texts.

This assignment involves both group and individual components so it’s important that you are prepared to meet with your group several times over the course of the project. You will have ample support in planning your project and working on text encoding, so don’t worry that you’ll have to master markup on your own. Your responsibilities for this assignment break down as follows:

As a group:

  • Decide how you will be marking your texts up. How do you want to capture the details of how each text appears? What kinds of analysis and interpretation are you interested in? How will you capture the names of persons, places, organizations, &c.? How will you encode gendered or racialized terms and concepts? How will you represent images?
  • Record the decisions you make in a shared document; this will be the beginning of your project’s editorial declaration. You will probably need to revise and refine your editorial declaration after you begin encoding, so plan to meet as a group at least once for that purpose. You will hand in your editorial declaration at the end of this assignment and part of your grade will depend on the thoughtfulness of your work. Guidelines are here.
  • After your texts are encoded, decide how you want to publish your work. What aspects of your encoding do you want to highlight for your viewers? How do you want your texts to look when they are viewed online? How can the online versions of your texts highlight those aspects of the encoding you consider to be most significant? Edit the custom.css file for your group’s publication; the sample.css file has several template display options that you can modify. We are using a lightweight publication interface so you will likely find that not all of your display aspirations are possible—don’t worry about this! You can describe any aspects of the display that you aren’t able to realize in your editorial declaration.

On your own:

  • Following the guidelines established by your group, encode a short text. Be particularly attentive to any tensions you note between the framework established by your project’s standards and the specifics of your own text.
  • Use the “comment” function very liberally to explain the choices you make as you encode your text, to note complexities as described above, and to point out any information or analysis that you are not able to capture through markup alone. The comments are your best opportunity to demonstrate the thought that you put into encoding your text (and to make it clear that any potentially unusual aspects of your encoding are the result of deliberation), so please be as detailed as possible in commenting on the work that you do.
  • Write a brief introduction to your encoded text (500 to 800 words). In this introduction, you can discuss the decisions you made in encoding your text, reflect on any significant aspects of the text you noticed as part of the encoding process (especially those that weren’t evident just on reading your text), and talk about any challenges you faced or any textual phenomena you weren’t able to represent through encoding. You will likely have addressed many of these issues directly in the comments of your encoded file, but this is your chance to unpack them in some greater detail and to offer more synthesized description of your encoded edition. You should also reflect on how your encoding work has changed or informed your understanding of the Tempest, as well as how your document connects with specific passage(s) in the Tempest.


Post your materials to Canvas by the end of the day (midnight) on Friday March 5. These include:


  • Your encoded TEI file, including your comments on the encoding decisions that you made
  • The 500 to 800 word introduction to your text (as a Word file, PDF, or Google Doc)

As a group

  • Your editorial declaration (as a Word file, PDF, or Google Doc)
  • The custom.css file you want to use with your texts (if there are any display aspects you would like to include with your file that you can’t set up in the css file, please describe these in your editorial declaration)

There will a grading penalty for late and incomplete submissions.