Introduction to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) for Black Digital Humanities

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Introduction to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) for Black Digital Humanities



Black digital humanities, in the past five years, has become a pivotal field in Digital Humanities for discussing the (digital) lives and experiences of Black people. The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines define an XML standard for representing the semantics of textual materials in digital form and is one of the most prevalent standards in digital humanities. This course will introduce participants to the TEI Guidelines as a productive building block for Black digital humanities work, as text encoding facilitates new ways of accessing, reading, sharing, and analyzing texts of marginalized people. Together, we’ll explore how text encoding can provide context, support discovery, and enable analysis of texts and textual features relevant to humanities researchers and librarians invested in African American life, history, and culture.

In this introductory course, participants will consider various approaches to Black digital humanities, before learning how to document provenance, record metadata, and develop encoding workflows that identify features of interest and provide greater access to materials. Participants will also become familiar with the TEI Guidelines as we examine both the affordances and challenges of using text encoding for Black digital humanities work. While we will explore how TEI projects can amplify Black voices–past, present, and future–we will also discuss the complexities of transforming de-centered voices into data, including: representations of geography in TEI in relation to critical cartography, the politics of labeling the Black body using TEI tags, the role of the encoder in interpreting and annotating Black voices, and other critical tensions that emerge when using TEI in Black digital humanities.

No prior experience with TEI or XML markup is necessary. Participants will devote time to encoding materials relevant to African American history and culture, consider examples of TEI usage in other digital humanities projects, and learn how to publish their work online in accessible ways. Open-source readings about XML, the TEI, and Black digital humanities will be provided prior to class.