TEI 2019

What is text, really? TEI and beyond

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Documenting Discoveries: TEI and Browsing the Bookshops in Paul’s Cross Churchyard

Janelle Jenstad, Mary Erica Zimmer

Keywords: early modern bookshops, visualization, documentary editing, documentary editing; MoEML, interoperability
Permalink: https://gams.uni-graz.at/o:tei2019.185

Mary Erica Zimmer and Janelle Jenstad

2019 Text Encoding Initiative Conference

Graz, Austria

Poster Abstract (29 July 2019)

Documenting Discoveries: TEI and Browsing the Bookshops in Paul’s Cross Churchyard

Traditional print scholarship mediates between the reader and the archival sources. We rely on the expert scholar to find, read, interpret, and digest sources for us. Yet even the most reputable scholars at times rely on searches that feel “hurried and incomplete” (Blayney, 1990, p. 1). By allowing us to present source documents, TEI-encoded transcriptions thereof, and scholarly conclusions based thereon, the digital environment affords the possibility of revisiting archival foundations. As early as 2000, Seamus Ross heralded the promise of “[d]igital archives combined with new technologies” to enable “simultaneous access to a range of sources” that would develop “research methods not possible with . . . printed or handwritten records” alone (Ross, 2000, p. 12). The typical response to this potential--exemplified by resources like Shakespeare Documented--has been to create new digital archives uniting disparate artifacts in digital space. Browsing the Bookshops in Paul's Cross Churchyard aims both to unify and to interrogate: revealing the document-based findings of prior projects while creating infrastructure able to support further research.

Building on the basis established by Peter W. M. Blayney’s work allows his scholarly monuments to serve as literal foundations: ones to be excavated archivally while serving as points of departure for digital development. Our initial focus is his landmark 1990 study, The Bookshops in Paul’s Cross Churchyard, which uses meticulous archival research to map bookshops and stalls near London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral during the period before the 1666 Great Fire. Among this volume’s most influential contributions are its print visualizations: its composite, layered maps of the Churchyard, its shops, and their locations. At present, these maps are glossed through brief companion narratives conveying data points crucial to each rendering. Our work maximizes the affordances of digital media by connecting aspects of Blayney’s reconstructions to documents that underpin them, as well as to related further texts and subsequent scholarship. Resulting will be an extensible TEI-based environment able to facilitate exploration of these intersecting document-based worlds.

Our work concentrates first on a single year of the Cross Yard’s history (1600), coupled with in-depth analyses of five discrete shop sites (four from stationer Reyner Wolfe’s “charnel chapel” group, plus his rental for The Brazen Serpent). Developing these two dimensions in tandem will establish guidelines for synchronic and diachronic renderings: those addressing the quantitative claims of intersecting datasets at a given moment, while grappling with challenges of gathering key spatial details over time. Both goals require interoperability: the latter, among XML schemas of multiple extant collections, including the Map of Early Modern London (MoEML), the Stationers’ Register Online (SRO), and British History Online (BHO), to name a few. We are also exploring opportunities for connecting to related projects and corpora, including the 25,000+ texts of the Phase I EEBO-TCP corpus (with Phase II to follow). Ultimately, TEI’s role as the project’s lingua franca makes tangible the promise of interoperable research offered by humanities markup itself.


Blayney, P.W.M. (1990) The Bookshops in Paul’s Cross Churchyard . Occasional Publications of the Bibliographical Society.

Ross, S. (2000) Changing Trains at Wigan: Digital Preservation and the Future of Scholarship . NPO/British Library, Occasional Publication. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/45ef/6351e887f4ee575c96bde5b5d1c55825dd4c.pdf