Telegraphy and the TEI

As a Friday afternoon treat, I’m dipping into a bit of TEI. We’re working on a model TEI template and schema for correspondence, as part of a project to digitise and research the letters written to Thomas Hardy. Working with a PhD researcher, student volunteers and interns, we hope to encode and make available a selection of letters that illustrate the breadth of correspondence this British novelist and poet received. His interest in science and in politics are facets that are directly apparent from the letters he received. The letters are in the collection of the Dorset County Museum, and the project is part of a developed theme on Hardy, led by Prof. Angelique Richardson, which will link to resources on other South West writers in due course.

We’re currently providing training in TEI methods and markup, and as this progresses and discussion takes place on the features of the letters and the markup required, we will start to look at customising the TEI schema through restricting the available elements, to ensure consistency across the texts and to allow more efficient display when they are made available. It’s a process of negotiation that leans heavily on the combined experience of the global TEI community through such resources as the TEI Guidelines and the TEI Correspondence Special Interest Group.

Of course, Hardy’s relationship with scientific and technological progress, including such innovations as photography and the telegraph, seems not always to have been a comfortable one; themes explored in the novels “Two on a Tower” and “A Laodicean”. What would Hardy have made of today’s Internet?

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