New Research Resources, Teaching TEI on Zoom, and Fall 2020 Project Intern

Research Resources

Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to remote teaching in Spring 2020, Kit Marlowe Project Assistant Andrew Jeromski (Framingham State University ’19, G ’21) and I had planned to collaborate on creating resources to help my then-current students navigate WordPress’s updated site-build interface. We’d encountered a few curveballs while conducting basic site maintenance earlier in the year and I’d hoped that video “How to” guides for creating posts would both facilitate my classroom teaching, and better equip us for future collaborations with colleagues off-site. We enlisted Framingham’s brilliant Instructional Technologist, Stacy Cohen, to teach us how to make videos using Panopto, and were soon up and running.

Our goal was to help students hone their digital literacies and intuition as they learned to create site-specific content in WordPress. To that end, Andrew worked through the process by way of trial and error to discover best practices. I offered feedback throughout the process, primarily to ensure clarity of instruction.

The timing was, needless to say, fortuitous.

When the pandemic struck, Andrew and I shifted our attention to generating video guides for conducting research online using open-source digital resources. Students in both my undergraduate Shakespeare and British Literature courses were researching topics for their Encyclopedia and/or Exhibit site contributions. One project goal is to make our encyclopedia entries more comprehensive and to feature images, so we started with the Folger Digital Image Collections, aka LUNA. Folger Learning and Engagement librarian Rachel Dankert, along with her colleagues Abbie Weinberg and Emily Wahl, generously provided feedback and suggestions as we generated several videos for conducting Basic and Advanced searches, for using Mirador to analyze images, and for citing primary sources. The success of the LUNA videos paved the way for creating additional “How to” guides for digital databases I direct students to frequently, including the Folger Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama, The Map of Early Modern London, the EEBO-TCP, and Six Degrees of Francis Bacon.

Meanwhile, my students and I collaborated on Zoom to post several of their research assignments including new entries on “Rome in Elizabethan England,” “Cambridge University,” and “Francis, Duke of Anjou” in the Encyclopedia, plus an entry on Authorship in the 1 Henry VI Contexts. We hope that these resources will be helpful to others in the face of the ongoing pandemic and limited access to physical libraries.

New Publication & Teaching TEI on Zoom

In Summer 2020, Andrew expressed interest in learning TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) encoding methods and I was curious about how such an endeavor could be undertaken on Zoom. We decided to create a diplomatic mini-edition of Thomas Newman’s and Thomas Nashe’s previously unpublished (together) epistles prefacing their 1591 (pirated) edition of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophel & Stella. Although Nashe’s epistle is regularly excerpted, Newman’s has largely gone unnoticed.Together, these paratexts offer insight into the intersections between manuscript circulation and print culture. Andrew and I were excited to get these letters into the public domain.

Happily, I was not starting from scratch. I updated teaching materials I’d used as a Pedagogical Partner with the Map of Early Modern London Project, and began with encoding templates and schema generated by Scott Hamlin, IT Director and my Learning Community partner at Stonehill College, as well as Linked Early Modern Drama Online programmers Joey Takeda and Martin Holmes.

Andrew had taken my Fall 2018 Shakespeare course and was familiar with diplomatic transcription. Like my former Project Intern Rowan Pereira (Stonehill College ’19), he chose to transcribe directly into the oXygen encoding platform. In a conventional classroom, instructions would be on the big screen at the front of the room, and students would also have hard copies to consult. In our remote setting, we used Zoom’s Screen Share feature to troubleshoot encoding errors, but found it challenging. Having both instructions and the encoding software on the same screen was impossible. Andrew and I both dug out old laptops and solved the problem by working on two screens (I have since invested in a second large monitor). In a classroom, I could not expect students to have access to a second monitor; I would ask that they use their phones to read instructions and use only oXygen and Zoom on their computers. Aside from the issue of screen real estate, the remote instruction worked well and Andrew did a brilliant job transcribing and encoding the Newman and Nashe epistles. They are now linked to and published on the Northeastern Digital Scholarship Group’s TAPAS (TEI Archiving and Publishing Access Service), and fully downloadable.

Fall 2020 Project Internship

I’m delighted to have Framingham State University senior and The Gatepost’s Arts & Features editor Brennan Atkins join the team as Project Intern for the Fall 2020 semester. Brennan will be responsible for fact-checking and copyediting many of last semester’s submissions that still need work. Once we get caught up with existing content submissions, I will invite Brennan to contribute new research in the exhibit area of his choice.

Moving Forward

The Kit Marlowe Project served as a use-case for proposing an Interdisciplinary Digital Humanities minor to be housed in the English Department at Framingham State University. As I write, the new minor is in its final committee, and I am scheduled to teach the first Introduction to Digital Humanities course in Spring 2020. KMP will expand internship offerings to students enrolled in the DH minor, and serve as a publication platform for class-generated projects.

I welcome collaborations from colleagues, as well as Project Interns from external institutions. If you would like to talk further, please contact me!

Kristen Abbott Bennett, September 2020

Project Update: September 2020