Novels in Context: A TEI Database of Primary Resources for Teachers, Students, and Scholars
DH 2015 | Poster Proposal
In this poster presentation, I hope to share the (evolving) product of a recent grant to create a free- and open-source database of curated, excerpted, annotated primary source materials useful for the study and teaching of the 18th century novel in English. The Novels in Context (NiC) project combines my interests in DH with my scholarship in eighteenth-century studies while creating a pedagogical opportunity for student-faculty research and publication. The goal of the NiC project is, most immediately, to provide an agile and accessible alternative to 1.) the costly and proprietary Eighteenth-Century Collections Online, 2.) the single print anthology on the subject, and 3.) the free but scattered and often unreliable resources available on the Internet.
NiC is built on TEI-formatted XML in an eXist database, an open-source native XML platform. To ensure the project remains free and ethically unencumbered by proprietary concerns, all the texts are transcribed and marked up individually and page images secured through library collections holding first editions. The XML is both structural and critical, including key themes and topics–this is primarily in anticipation of the time when NiC can incorporate MALLET topic modeling and other modes of visualization. The project will incorporate an editorial board to publish user contributions more broadly, including student-faculty collaborations. In the long term, I hope to create a portable platform that instructors can use to generate coursepacks of quality, reliable material (headnotes, reading questions, and so on) that could potentially stand in for the ubiquitous, proprietary, and costly textbook, engaging students in a broader conversation about intellectual property and the public good.
NiC is currently in the working prototype phase, and a copy of the current build is available for technical collaboration on GitHub (https://github.com/tonyahowe/NiC); I am also eager to find collaborators among the world of coders, scholars, and teachers of literature.