TEI 2019

What is text, really? TEI and beyond

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Graphs - charters - recipes: challenges of modelling medieval genres with the TEI

Roman Bleier, Franz Fischer, Tessa Gengnagel, Helmut W. Klug, Patrick Sahle, Christian Steiner, Sean M. Winslow, Andrea Worm

Keywords: Graph, charters, recipes, medieval genres, TEI, modelling
Slides: https://www.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3479731
Slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1-jK6jn-ilNYuyIRB6RpluWe_OJM5PBiOhXW7RyoTwgk/edit?usp=sharing
Permalink: https://gams.uni-graz.at/o:tei2019.132

Session abstract: Graphs - charters - recipes: challenges of modelling medieval genres with the TEI

Medieval studies had and still has a substantial influence on the TEI: medievalists actively participate in the development and revision of the TEI guidelines and many medieval digital editing projects use the TEI (e.g. Patrick Sahle lists 144 medieval editions in his catalogue and most use TEI). The TEI is flexible and expressive when it comes to modelling features of the most common types of medieval texts such as prose and lyrical works. However, new editing projects and less-typical sources challenge the standard and raise the question of whether the TEI can (or should) be adopted to accommodate the special requirements of different genres or whether other standards should be used in conjunction with the TEI. Using three medieval genres as case studies, this session will discuss the challenges encountered when trying to model non-literary texts (diagrammatic stemmata, charters, and recipes) and present solutions for how they may be modelled in both medieval and modern contexts.

Paper 1: Text - Graph - Image: Towards a Digital Edition of Peter of Poitiers’ Compendium historiae

Authors: Roman Bleier, Franz Fischer, Tessa Gengnagel, Patrick Sahle, Andrea Worm


Around 1180, Peter of Poitiers (c. 1130-1205), theologian at the cathedral school in Paris, compiled a survey of biblical history in the form of a diagrammatic stemma. The Compendium historiae presents the history of salvation in its linear and teleological structure. Biblical books and stories are condensed to biographical information and arranged in a strict chronological order. History, as it were, is mapped out in the form of a graph, thus allowing readers to assess synchronicity and diachronicity of people and events at a glance. Since this was deemed highly useful, Peter of Poitiers’ work soon became the template for other chronicles that used a similar diagrammatic format to present history.

Despite its popularity and enormous impact, a scholarly edition of the Compendium historiae remains a desideratum to this day. It is primarily the graphical nature of the text that has prevented such an edition (or even for the work to appear in print). Another problem results from the structural and graphical variance among the manuscript witnesses and from the difficulty in representing graphical variants in the constituted text or critical apparatus of a (printed) scholarly edition.

The project team would like to use the opportunity of the TEI conference to present and discuss a preliminary data model for the representation of the Compendium historiae and the complex composition of its textual, pictorial and graphical elements. In that context, for instance, the TEI module “Graphs, Networks, and Trees” will be discussed as a means to represent the genealogical and historical lines of the Compendium historiae. The modelling and presentation of a work that consists of a graph as well as adjacent texts, diagrams and images will provide a template for a great number of medieval and modern works that use graphic visual means to convey information.

Suggested reading

Worm, Andrea. 2013. “Visualising the Order of History: Hugh of Saint Victors' Chronicon and Peter of Poiters' Compendium Historiae.” In Romanesque and the Past: Retrospection in the Art and Architecture of Romanesque Europe, edited by Richard Plant and John McNeill. Leeds: Maney.

Worm, Andrea. 2019. Geschichte und Weltordnung: Graphische Modelle von Zeit und Raum in Universalchroniken vor 1500. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft.

TEI. “19 Graphs, Networks, and Trees.” P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange, Version 3.6.0. Last updated on 16th July 2019, revision daa3cc0b9. Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.tei-c.org/release/doc/tei-p5-doc/en/html/GD.html.

Paper 2: Modelling charters in TEI P5: the TEI_CEI ODD

Author: Sean M. Winslow


Charters and other documentary materials have their own traditional disciplinary approaches and concerns which are related to manuscript materials, but incompletely modelled by the msdescription module. A specialist fork of an older version of the TEI, the Charters Encoding Initiative, exists and is implemented for over 600,000 items in the Monasterium.net portal, but is showing its age as the TEI has received more updates which are not fully implemented in the CEI fork. Additionally, the non-standard nature of the CEI means that the training and resources for learning and extending the TEI are incompletely available to the CEI ecosystem. As part of the FWF-funded project ‘Retain Domain Specific Functionalities in a Generic Repository with Humanities Data” (ORD84)” (PI: Georg Vogeler),’ the CEI has been updated to be compatible with the TEI P5, including an ODD extending current manuscript description elements to include specialized diplomatics material. This talk will present the ODD, discuss it in the context of how the needs of modelling documentary materials go beyond the currently available TEI elements, and outline current efforts to update the large database of digitized charters and charter records to be compatible with the most recent version of the TEI.

Suggested reading

Ambrosio, Antonella, Sébastien Barret and Georg Vogeler, eds. 2014. Digital diplomatics The computer as a tool for the diplomatist? Beihefte zum Archiv für Diplomatik, Schriftgeschichte, Siegel- und Wappenkunde 14. Böhlau.

Vogeler, Georg, et al. 2018. “Charters Encoding Initiative.” http://cei.lmu.de

Paper 3: Starving for TEI? Cooking Recipes of the Middle Ages - Corpus, Analysis, Visualisation

Authors: Helmut Klug, Christian Steiner, Elisabeth Raunig


CoReMA puts an interdisciplinary focus on the cross-cultural research of medieval cooking recipes and their interrelation. The project is preparing the cooking recipe transmission of France and the German speaking countries, which sums up more than 80 manuscripts and about 8000 recipes, for the analysis of their origin, their relation, and their migration

through Europe.

The TEI model for the medieval sources is based on their page structures, while the transcribed text is annotated deeply, reaching below character level using the TEI gaiji-module. Optical and haptic descriptions of the manuscript including measurements, description of the writing material, order of quires and a description of the manuscript’s content are encoded within the TEI’s manuscript description. The philological level of the project can thus be covered thoroughly and effectively with the TEI.

However, the challenges of CoReMa involve a systematical semantic annotation of the cooking recipes’ contents like ingredients, preparation instructions and time, tools, serving suggestions and medicinal, cultural as well as religious implications in the texts. The sheer quantity of semantics within one historic recipe shows how complex a semantic annotation of these texts is. The TEI does not sufficiently cover the needs for a comprehensive semantic encoding for cooking recipes. This is why we chose to develop our own annotation schema and implement it with an encapsulating TEI schema, taking on the TEI whenever reasonable. We will subsequently use RDF as the base format for exchange and analysis giving us the ability to work outside the barriers of historical and language constraints. The questions raised for the TEI is to consider how such an implementation of one’s own needs can succeed without losing the advantages and ideas of the TEI.

Suggested reading

Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections, n.d. “Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Dataset.” Accessed July 28, 2019. https://www.lib.msu.edu/feedingamericadata .

Honkapohja, Alpo. 2013. “Manuscript abbreviations in Latin and English. History, typologies and how to tackle them in encoding.” Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English 14, ch. 2.4. http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/series/volumes/14/honkapohja/ .

Stokes, Peter A. 14.10.2011. “Describing Handwriting, Part I-VII: Recapitulation and Formal Model.” Blog, DigiPal. Accessed July 28, 2019. http://www.digipal.eu/blog .