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BAND

BAND, XML

What I Learned from Researching Choice Tags

One of BAND’s long term projects is what we’re calling the <choice> Tag Project. The ultimate idea behind this project is to standardize our use of <choice> tags in textual transcriptions. Since there have been several blog posts written on this topic in the past, I thought a good way to begin would be to read those three posts and then to look through recently transcribed BADs in order to get a thorough exposure to all the different ways in which people are using <choice> tags.

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Four Zoas: Glimpsing the Summit

I suppose the mountain-climbing analogy makes sense — climbing mountains is hard. For anyone with even a fleeting familiarity with this particular Blake manuscript, the difficulty of the Four Zoas is readily apparent. Reading it is hard. Editing it is, perhaps, futile. But we try. And even in our failures do we learn.

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BAND: A Healthy Difference in Academic Work

This week was my first week back in The William Blake Archive offices in over a month having taken a hiatus from work in order to study and take my PhD qualifying exams. This was the longest break I have had away from the archive since starting graduate school, and the first day back in the office helped me appreciate the healthy difference between my archive work and my research work.

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Where’s the Marginalia?

My colleagues have been updating this blog fairly regularly with details of our progress with the marginalia — there’s nothing really much to add there. But with (hopefully) most of the encoding work behind us, there’s still quite a few hurdles ahead, e.g. display. With the Archive being such a collaborative, multi-university effort, we don’t have that much control over the final display of objects, or actually, much knowledge of how this is going to come about.

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BAND, XML

William Blake’s letters: Date dilemma and Keynes’s commas

Bentley reads William Blake’s letter to Thomas Butts dated September, 23, 1800 as “22 September 1800” and makes a footnote explaining the same (1541). Similarly, another letter written to Butts dated January 10, 1802 is a matter of dispute and disagreement among scholars and editors. While the object (image— lt10jan1802.1.2.LT.300.jpg) itself says “January 10. 1802”, Erdman suggests it is 1803 and not 1802, and Keynes mentions both. When we were discussing this in our BAND meeting, Sarah recommended me a copy of “Blake/ An Illustrated Quarterly 51 Volume 13 Number 3 Winter 79-80”; I did find a brief note about this discrepancy in this issue (page 148). Then the concern was how and where should we address this in the XML file.

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BAND, XML

Trouble in paradise: our divergent uses of the new marginalia schema

In the excitingly titled “So then what happened?” Rob outlined some of the major changes that we’ve introduced to the marginalia schema, such as using specific <layer>s to differentiate between typographic text and Blake’s writing, dispensing with line numbers for the typographic text, and dividing the annotations into discrete zones with fluid spatial coordinates. Armed with these new and fascinating solutions, we decided to transcribe the marginalia BADs independently and to hold bimonthly update sessions to discuss our progress or talk about any specific problems that came up.

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Slack Update

In the fall, BAND (our group in Rochester) decided to try out the Slack app.

Growing group numbers and starting more complicated and diverse projects led us to try out a communication platform that was built to handle such dynamic work environments. It was/is an experiment, and I promised to check back after a semester to reflect on how the experiment was going. Here’s my report:

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BAND, XML

Do we know what we’re estimating?

One of many things that working on the separate plates has gotten me thinking about is how we conceptualize units of space. Doing the textual transcriptions for the separate plates requires that we use a lot of <space/> and <vspace/> tags. Inside these elements, we use the attribute “extent=” to describe the size of the space. The difficulty of this is that I never feel like I have any idea what it is we’re counting. It seems like the standard instruction in the matter is to put down a rough guess and wait until it’s up on the testing site to ensure the accuracy of the number. This makes sense, but it would seem that even to put in a rough guess a person would need to have some idea what the unit is. Consulting the “Filling out an XML BAD File” on the WIP site doesn’t provide any help in the matter.

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A Newbie Learns to Read Blake

Since this is my first semester working with the Blake Archive—and all of my previous interaction with Blake’s work has consisted of reading his poems in relative isolation in my house—my main concern has been trying to understand Blake’s handwriting and figure out how the XML tag set works. More specifically, I have been trying to identify the places in the text where Blake scribbles over words or crosses them out. In some instances, the word underneath may be legible, but as a newcomer to reading Blake’s original manuscripts, I have trouble asserting anything with authority. Similarly, it has been difficult deciphering the way in which Blake renders some individual letters. For example, his “s” often looks like an “f” and his periods sometimes look like commas. I realize that recognizing things quickly is an issue of experience, and I do find that copyediting the XML against the original images of the letters is very helpful. The process of working backwards—looking at the XML, then the handwriting—seems far more useful than trying to look at the letter and blindly translate Blake’s handwriting.

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BAND, XML

The Problem of Metamarks

This semester we’re looking at some of the unique features of the Blake marginalia, and some of the challenges of representing them accurately with TEI elements. One element we’re considering is <metamark>. But what exactly is a metamark?

This is how it’s described on the main website, which is frequently repeated elsewhere online:

<metamark> contains or describes any kind of graphic or written signal within a document the function of which is to determine how it should be read rather than forming part of the actual content of the document.

Note the extreme ambiguity of this description, e.g. about what the ‘it’ actually means. The metamark is a graphic or signal which is supposed to determine how it should be read — ‘it’, meaning of course not the metamark but the document, in which you find the metamark. Not that this brief description gives any indication as to what limits or bounds that ‘document’ or what kind of scope it has for telling the reader how this document (the paragraph, the page, the chapter?) should be read.

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