Descriptive and Visual Approaches in the Computer-Based Representation of Text in the Humanities

Day - Time: 16 April 2014, h.14:30
Place: Area della Ricerca CNR di Pisa - Room: C-29
  • Tobias Schweizer (Digital Humanities Lab University of Basel)

Vittore Casarosa


In the Humanities, the de facto standard to represent texts with the help of a computer is a markup language called TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) based on XML (previously SGML). TEI/XML favors a single abstract perspective on text by focusing on categories like chapters and paragraphs, due to its roots in descriptive markup (designed by Goldfarb in the 70s at IBM).

However, today an enormous amount of digital images of handwritten and printed documents is available on the internet, representing these sources in respect to their visual appearance. Philological disciplines get more and more interested in describing how these source documents look like, rather than just explicitly representing their textual content.

In the seminar a web-based tool for creating transcriptions will be introduced. It does not primarily rely on the principles of descriptive markup, but tries to take into consideration the spatial relations of manuscripts. Once an explicit interpretation of the text is made (separating textual information from the manuscript), it can be exported as TEI/XML.

Short CV of Tobias Schweizer: Tobias Schweizer studied history, German literature and computer science at the University of Basel. Since 2010 he has been an assistant and PhD student at the Digital Humanities Lab working on the development of SALSAH - a web-based virtual research environment for the humanities - and on the subject of digital editing. He will defend his PhD in April 2014.