What this Course is About

This course is an introduction to the theories, practices, and methods that are used in the humanities for the encoding of texts for research, for preservation, and for online distribution. It focuses on a particular method, that of text encoding, using eXtensible Markup Language (XML), and a specialised schema common to humanities research, The Text Encoding Language (TEI).

While there are other equally valid ways to store, preserve, and distribute textual data (such as using a relational structure), this course will not cover those methods. Rather, this course focuses on text encoding, its history and uses. There are also practical hands-on exercises which allow students to practice the theory learned. 

This course is divided into three main units, with each lesson further subdivided into lessons:

  • Unit I is an introduction to textual scholarship, modelling, and markup languages: what they are, their history, and some of their uses and characteristics. This unit focuses on XML, how it was developed, its structure and form, and the standard used in the rest of the course, the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI);

  • Unit II delves into XML in more detail: discussing the building blocks of XML and an overview of its rules and structures. This unit also introduces schema and DTDs, with exercises on how to model XML via a DTD;

  • Unit III provides opportunities to apply what you have learned in the previous units. This begins with a brief overview of the TEI Guidelines, along with two exercises applying principles you have learned.

Who Created This Course

Susan Schreibman is Professor of Digital Humanities and the Director of An Foras Feasa, the Humanities Institute at Maynooth University. She is the Coordinator of the #dariahTeach consortium. Professor Schreibman has been involved with the TEI community for many years, serving on both the Consortium's Board and Technical Council. Professor Schreibman is the originator and editor of The Versioning Machine, a tool to compare and display multiple versions of text encoded according to one of the methods described in the TEI's Apparatus chapter. 

Roman Bleier holds a PhD in Digital Arts and Humanities and Medieval History from Trinity College Dublin where he worked on a digital edition of St Patrick's epistles based on diplomatic transcriptions encoded in TEI. His dissertation in Trinity College was inspired by previous work he did at the Royal Irish Academy where he was part of the 'St Patrick’s Confessio HyperStack Project' team. Roman is currently a DixIT Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Graz and his research topic is 'Canonical reference and sustainability of digital editions'. He is also the Technical Editor of The Versioning Machine and member of the Institute for Documentology and Scholarly Editing (IDE).


The authors of this course gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Conor Ryan who helped to improve the course through his practicum in the MA in Digital Humanities at Maynooth University; Shane McGarry, a PhD candidate in the Digital Arts and Humanities at Maynooth University, who ran an early focus group on the course, providing invaluable feedback for improvement, as well as co-supervised Conor Ryan's practicum.

We also acknowledge the valuable input of Seamus Callagy, Mei Dong, Michelle Doran, and Mariana Sylivrili in early testing of the course.

Last modified: Tuesday, 21 March 2017, 4:57 PM