What's Interesting for Humanities Computing About Whitman's Poetry Manuscripts?

panel / roundtable
  1. 1. Ed Folsom

    University of Iowa

  2. 2. John Unsworth

    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Graduate School of Library and Information Science - University of Virginia

  3. 3. Alice Rutkowski

    University of Virginia

  4. 4. Terence Catapano

    Columbia University, New York Public Library

  5. 5. Brett Barney

    University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Work text
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The full title of this session is "What's Interesting for Humanities
Computing About Whitman's Poetry Manuscripts?" This panel session,
featuring work of people associated with the Walt Whitman Hypertext
Archive <http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/whitman/>, argues that
editing Whitman poses questions of general interest for computing
humanists. It would be especially fitting to feature this session on
the great poet of Manhattan and Brooklyn at a conference held in New
York City.

The panel opens with a presentation from one of the foremost Whitman
scholars, Ed Folsom. Folsom was the lead author for a recent
three-year NEH grant earmarked for support of the editing of Whitman's
poetry manuscripts. These fundamentally important documents have never
been transcribed and encoded, and they are scattered at various
libraries. Applying the TEI to manuscripts is something of a
challenge, a topic various participants in this session explore from a
variety of angles.

John Unsworth's talk will discuss how we are attempting to exert
control over this vast project undertaken by dispersed editors. He
will discuss the use of a PHP/Mysql database to manage the assignment
and collection of manuscript transcriptions, the deployment of an
NT-based, Web-accessible Access database for controlling the unique
identifiers assigned to individual objects within the Whitman archive,
the implementation of the Astoria document management system for the
project, and Astoria's integration with the Epic SGML editing

Alice Rutkowski will discuss her efforts in developing encoding
guidelines suited specifically for Whitman's manuscripts and the
challenges they pose. She will discuss how Whitman's method of
composition causes both scholarly and technical problems for editors
interested in his manuscripts.

Terry Catapano will discuss his work in developing EAD records for the
Berg collection at the New York Public Library. Catapono is also
exploring with Ken Price the possibility of creating a virtual EAD of
Whitman's poetry manuscripts, a centralized finding aid that would
pull together finding records for all institutions holding Whitman
manuscripts. There is no single finding aid that will allow scholars
to discover where all the manuscripts related to, say, "Song of
Myself" can be found. (In fact the manuscripts tied to the gestation
of that poem number close to seventy and can be found at New York
Public Library, Duke University, University of Virginia, the Library
of Congress, and the University of Texas at Austin. This, fortunately,
is an unusually complicated case in the Whitman canon.) By working
cooperatively with many libraries Catapano hopes to help establish
standards through open discussion.

Brett Barney will describe some of the choices he has confronted in
the actual tagging of Whitman's poems. This work has forced an
examination of questions of basic structure and intention in Whitman's
poetry and at the same time illuminated some of the difficulties of
applying and adapting SGML encoding "best practices" to those poems,
some of which have enormously complicated genealogies.

Whitman stands as one of the four or five greatest American poets and
his work presents textual questions of extraordinary complexity. These
textual questions can best be addressed via the careful and
sophisticed use of the tools made available by humanities computing.
We look forward to a frank discussion of our victories and defeats
thus far, and will welcome the insights of the audience as we face new
and challenging questions.

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.

Conference Info

In review


Hosted at New York University

New York, NY, United States

July 13, 2001 - July 16, 2001

94 works by 167 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ICCH (21), ALLC/EADH (28), ACH/ALLC (13)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC