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

XML Mon Nov 13, 13:30–15:00

Collaborative Encoding of Text Genesis: A didactical approach for teaching genetic encoding with the TEI (paper)

Stefano Apostolo* Stefano Apostolo is a PhD student in Milan and Vienna (cotutelle), where he is focusing on the philological analysis of an unpublished novel by Thomas Bernhards. His research interests concentrate on Austrian literature, philology, textual criticism and digital humanities., Ingo Boerner* Ingo Boerner studied Russian and German studies in Vienna and Moscow. He currently works as a research and teaching assistant at the Department of German studies at the University of Vienna, where he is involved in the creation of the “Critical Edition of Arthur Schnitzler’s Early Works.” His research interests are in the areas of digital scholarly editing and digital humanities., and Angelika Hechtl* Angelika Hechtl is doing her PhD at the University of Vienna and is working on different topics related to digital humanities. She studied Slavonic Studies (Russian, Ukrainian) and German Studies in Vienna and Moscow.

1Textual criticism, the identification of textual variants and the reconstruction of the genesis of a literary text, is one of the most challenging tasks philologists currently face. The TEI Guidelines have offered ways to encode manuscript genetics for almost a decade (chapter 11.7) ( TEI Consortium 2013).However, the corresponding parts are considered to be more advanced topics, and are rarely covered in introductory courses or teaching materials. The proposed paper is based on an encoding workshop at the University of Vienna in May 2017, with the aim of introducing encoding strategies of text genesis to less technologically advanced scholars.
2In two groups participants produced a dossier génétique (Grésillon 1994) in a collaborative writing process. They had at their disposal several writing tools (pens, typewriters) and different kinds of paper, in order to produce a text with several layers, while the whole process was recorded on video. The products were then digitized, and each group got digital copies of the other one. Participants analyzed the specific phenomena of the primary sources, like additions, corrections, deletions or scribal hands. The participants were then introduced to the necessary encoding strategies to represent the genesis of texts. After the introduction to the transcription tool Transkribus, the students transcribed one of the texts, exported it and enriched it further with Oxygen Author using a dedicated framework.
3The paper discusses the question of how genetic encoding can be taught: We argue that in learning a complex topic, it helps to work on self-produced material, instead of encoding sample documents of real world editing projects, where previous knowledge is required. After experiencing the very writing process, participants were able to easily analyze the material of the other group, and could thus focus entirely on its electronic representation. Furthermore, they could verify their hypotheses by studying the video recording.


  • Grésillon, Almuth. 1994. Éléments de Critique Génétique. Lire Les Manuscrits Modernes. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
  • TEI Consortium. 2016. TEI P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. Version 3.1.0. http://www.tei-c.org/Vault/P5/3.1.0/doc/tei-p5-doc/en/html/.