TEI 2017 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada November 11 - 15

XML Mon Nov 13, 13:30–15:00

Teaching TEI as Repurposing; or, Cooking with Emily Dickinson, Mary Mitford, and Frankenstein (paper)

Elisa Beshero-Bondar* Elisa Beshero-Bondar (U Pittsburgh at Greensburg) is Director of the Center for the Digital Text and Associate Professor of English at U Pittsburgh at Greensburg, where she teaches undergraduate students to code and build digital projects with the XML family of languages, with projects and course materials available at http://newtfire.org. She is founder and director of the Digital Mitford Project (http://digitalmitford.org), which hosts an annual coding school for graduate students, faculty, scholarly editors, and librarians interested in learning coding and digital project management methods used in the project. She was elected to the TEI Technical Council in 2015, where she works with ten other members from around the world in revising the TEI Guidelines and schema and supporting the TEI community.

1Within the past five years, several projects to repurpose old code have launched around me, some of them led by my students and colleagues, and all of them “intangling” me (to quote Stanley Fish) in some way whether I am directing them or not (Fish 1967). For example, a few years ago I discovered I needed to rescue a 1990s web 1.0 hypertext edition of Emily Dickinson’s Fascicle 16 made by a former UVA graduate student because I admired her innovative idea to render Dickinson’s handwritten pseudo markup of her own variants, and found it much better either than a printed anthology or the standard digital archive for my unit on Dickinson and textual scholarship. But my own stopgap solution, hastily conceived, failed to match the vision of my coding students, who in 2015–2016 crafted their own brilliant new edition of Dickinson’s fascicles 16 and 6.1 I propose to discuss this and other communal efforts (including the Digital Mitford and Bicentennial Frankenstein projects) motivating us to repurpose an “old” edition together, as an optimal way of learning and sharing the TEI.
2Teaching TEI as repurposing creates a highly motivating, dialogic connection with previous generations of editions. The repurposing effort involves first observing carefully the structure of a previous edition so we can reply to it, seeking the appropriate customized expression in TEI that might preserve and refine and add new value to the “old” digital code, or even the “old” physical layout on the printed or handwritten page (as my students learn from coding one of my colleague’s photos of a recipe card handwritten by her grandmother). Teaching TEI in the context of an imperative to rescue texts from sliding into obscurity has fueled excitement among my students and colleagues alike as we encounter with code the molten fluidity of texts.


  1. The original site was http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~ajf2j/emily/stab.html , the work of Michele Ierardi in the mid 1990s. My hastily cobbled and unsatisfactory stopgap revision is http://www.pitt.edu/~ebb8/EmilyDickinson16/1601.html. My students’ total repurposing is here: http://dickinson16.newtfire.org/, and they tell the story of the repurposing better than I can here: http://dickinson16.newtfire.org/about.html .


  • Fish, Stanley. 1967. “Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling.” Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost: 1–56. London: Palgrave Macmillan.