Close Reading and Prosopography

On the WebDuring the past 2 weeks, we learned how to use close reading for the deeper understanding of the Payne journal and how to use editorial tools, not only Juxta Editions, but also a new and magical tool, Oxygen to work on the transcription in XML files and also in a more detailed way. During this process, apart from how to use digital tools and how to collaborate with others, I learned how important self reflection is for an editor.
When I was working on my own pages, the 2 main challenges I met were how to decide whether I should mark up this word, not that one, and where to stop. The first challenge of how to decide directly led me ignore some particular word I should mark up. In this case, on my first time reading through my own pages, I finished quickly and let slip many words unconsciously. Gradually I realized this problem in my editorial process. Just as Elena Pierazzo mentioned in her article: “Scholarly choices constitute the base of any transcription and subsequent diplomatic edition”, what I did on my own pages now would finally appear in front of readers. Therefore, making scholarly choices seems to be extraordinarily important. For the second time reading, I put more emphasis on the trait description, the emotional changes of characters, the role names and the changes of the place location. My personal experience in making a choice explains why I feel quite interesting about Elena Pierazzo’s point: “the alterations which lead from the former to the latter are interpretative and irreversible.” As she explains, two scholars, given the same transcriptional criteria, are most likely not to produce the same transcription of the same exemplar, it’s crucial to treat any resource with the same respect and carefulness.

Then I met the second challenge: where to stop. What Elena Pierazzo pointed out this time is very helpful to me on deciding where to stop. She said that if there is an infinite set of facts to be observed within the physical object, ‘no limits’ might lead us to create a model which aspires to equal the object to be studied. But a model must be simpler than the object it models, otherwise it will be unusable for any practical purpose. As we learned that the diplomatic edition is more similar to a model, everything we put in this model should be concise and meaningful enough to make the context accessible to every reader. In this case, I learned that the work I mark up in the XML file should be related to the journal itself. It does matter how the word is related to the Moravian, the historical background or a particular place name.  My job, as the editior, is to find out the relationship between the words I mark up.

 

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Last but not least, I want to mention my design for my web page. As we can see, I chose the white background since it’s easy for reading. Since readers are more likely to be scholars and students who are working on their papers on Moravian, I highlight the place and the role names by changing their color to red and blue.

Close reading and Prosopography

Opposite to distant reading, close reading places great emphasis on the single particular over the general, makes us paying close attention to individual words. In the past few weeks, we did close reading from transcribing the Payne Journal in the Juxta Editions, learn TEL-compliant XML markup and use the Oxygen editor to markup the transcriptions. Also, we used these tools to publish the edition of Payne Journal on the web instead of in print. Juxta Editions allows us to compare the original documents and our transcription words by words. However, it only can do the subscription, simple tags of person, place and time on the transcription. In contrast, Oxygen helps us tag more parameters such as the event, object and trait. By marking up the parameters, I gained a different aspect understanding of the journal. The name of the place, the emotion of the role, and other contents in detail, which might be ignored by distance reading, was impressed in my head when I did the markup. I started to think about the relationship between the places, the emotion of the role and the event happened deeply. Now, let me talk more about my experience of using these tools to edit documents that published on the web with Elena Pierazzao’s article “ A Rationale of Digital Documentary Editions”.

As Pierazzao stated that scholarly choices constitute the base of any transcription and subsequent diplomatic edition, when I was doing the markup, I have to make a choice on the source. There are potentially infinite sets of facts to be recorded and my goal is to edit as many of the characteristics of the journal as I can. Therefore, it is a challenge for me on how to choose, which features of the primary source I should reproduce, and where shall I stop? Pierazzao said that we must have limits on the selection based on the scholarly purpose. So, I decided to markup documents by choosing one category of parameters at one time. For example, based on the nature of the journal, I did markup for place name that I read through the entire page and only highlight all the place names.Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.35.45 PM In that way, I can ensure all the parameters I need are reproduced while I will not mark mass useless words. Also, in order to ensure the uniform of our decision as an entire Journal, we created a Google document in class to share the editorial decision to we made.

Another decisive challenge for editing is the design and style of the web. I chose white background with black text at the beginning, but after I thought about the comfortableness of the reader to read and search online for the best matched background, I changed the web to a black background with white text.Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.34.48 PM Since this document is a travel journal, the places they traveled and the emotion of the role in the journal is important, I mark the color of the place names to yellow and emotion to red. I also changed the font style of the misspelling in case od readers’ misunderstanding.