Courses & Workshops/Jan 27, 2017


Make_Your_Edition lead image

Make_Your_Edition: Models and Methods for Digital Textual Scholarship, Summer 2017 NEH Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities, University of Pittsburgh, July 10–29, 2017

The University of Pittsburgh is pleased to invite applications to an NEH Advanced Institute in the Digital Humanities for summer 2017 entitled Make_YOUR_edition: models and methods of digital textual scholarship. The target audience for this workshop is digital textual scholars who are already comfortable editing their texts (in TEI XML or comparable alternatives); the goal of the Institute is to assist them in moving beyond textual editing to imagining, creating, and publishing research-driven, theoretically and methodologically innovative digital editions.

Digital humanists already have access to workshops and tutorials to help them learn to transcribe, edit, and tag a text in preparation for publishing a digital edition. These training resources play a vital role in empowering editors to formalize and instantiate their interpretations as markup, so as to make them available for subsequent analysis. Nonetheless, sophisticated markup expertise alone is not enough to make an edition, and learning nothing more than tagging may leave scholars staring at their angle brackets and wondering what to do next. For some a solution like TEI Tapas provides an adequate next step, but for those who wish to ask new types of questions of their documents, and to produce new types of editions that enable new types of research, an understanding of how to turn a set of tagged texts into a customized edition that meets individualized research goals is crucial. Digital humanists cannot build editions that break new methodological ground solely on the basis of solutions prepared largely by others, and the focus of this Institute is on the creation of digital editions motivated by project-specific research questions and implemented from a perspective driven first by theory of edition, second by editorial methodology, and necessarily but less importantly by specific toolkits. In this respect we foreground not learning a particular programming language or technology or framework, but learning to think and act digitally about the process of creating a digital edition. Because tools and technologies come and go, the Institute emphasizes learning to translate original digital thinking about editions into implementations of those editions, rather than on “tooling up” in the context of currently popular frameworks. In this respect, the Institute recognizes thinking digitally in ways driven by project-specific research goals as the most important feature of sustainable Digital Humanities training and education.

The Institute will introduce textual and manuscript scholars to a powerful and broad-reaching skill set of digital methods and technologies, grounded in a context that prioritizes a research-driven theory of edition. The course moves in a three-week succession from novice to experienced level, and from base textual data to full digital publication of scholarly editions. The Institute assumes that participants will have meaningful prior experience in digital editing (in TEI XML or a comparable framework), but it makes no other assumptions about prior knowledge or skills.

  • An optional first-week _boot camp_ establishes basic infrastructure skills (operating comfortably at the command line, handling files, navigating file systems, sharing resources and code responsibly, running Python programs from the command line, etc.).
  • The second week allows participants to practice and advance their basic skills when they start combining digital textual scholarship theory (e.g., McGann 2004[1], Andrews 2012[2], Siemens 2012[3], Robinson 2013[4], Haentjens et al. 2015[5]) with standard (e.g., XML, Python, Jupyter Notebooks) and advanced digital technologies (e.g., StemmaWeb, CollateX, Neo4j, Tinkerpop, eXist-db).
  • By the end of the third week, participants will be able to conceptualize from theory a perspective on digital textual scholarship and digital scholarly editions. They will also know how to go about planning and implementing such an edition by engaging programmatically and algorithmically with digital data, handling it computationally, and querying, analyzing, and transforming it into visualizations that transcend the digital translation of a text as a codex.

The Institute will meet at the main (Oakland) campus of the University of Pittsburgh from Monday, July 10, 2017 through Friday, July 28, 2017 and will draw on an international faculty of distinguished scholars, practitioners, and teachers of digital philology from several collaborating institutions. On Saturday, July 29, 2017 there will be an optional pedagogical review of the Institute, designed to assist participants in organizing and conducting their own workshops at their home institutions.


  • Tara Andrews (Institute of History, University of Vienna)
  • David J. Birnbaum (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Hugh Cayless (Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing [DC3], Duke University)
  • Ronald Haentjens Dekker (Huygens Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)
  • Na-Rae Han (Department of Linguistics, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Mike Kestemont (Department of Literature, University of Antwerp)
  • Leif-Jöran Olsson (Department of Swedish Language, University of Gothenburg)

The instructors will be assisted by Gabrielle (Gabi) Keane (Senior Undergraduate Institute Assistant, University of Pittsburgh).

Applications are invited for the full three-week Institute or, in the case of those who are already comfortable with the types of first-week topics described above, for just the second and third weeks. Applicants should already be proficient with digital textual editing in TEI XML or similar technologies, and should be seeking guidance and training in how to move their texts into innovative digital editions that will enable them to explore project-specific research questions. Evidence of meaningful prior hands-on digital textual editing experience is required, but prior experience in programming for textual exploration and publication is not. Applicants who do not have prior experience with the Python programming language must agree to complete a recommended free online introductory Python course before the beginning of the Institute, for which the Institute will maintain its own support and discussion board. For budgetary reasons, preference will be given to applications from within North America.

Participants accepted to the Institute will receive a travel allowance, complimentary accommodation in single-occupancy dormitory rooms, and a complimentary meal plan in the University Dining Services in lieu of per diem. Access to the University libraries, computer labs, and networked digital resources will also be provided. Participants must bring their own laptops (Windows 7–10, Mac OS, or Ubuntu/Debian Linux). We welcome scholars at all career levels from advanced graduate students through senior faculty.