This summer, I am working with two undergraduate research fellows to build a prototype digital critical edition. Building on the Southern Audiobooks collection at GRU, we are creating an edition that brings together the audio, the text, annotations, and critical commentaries, all in one edition. Our goal is to produce an edition that makes these texts more fully accessible to general readers and students at the college or high school level.
We have started with the audiofiles of Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories. These stories prove problematic for readers, especially in a classroom setting, for multiple reasons. First, the dialect makes them nearly inaccessible for some readers, making both the audio and the explanatory annotations valuable for deciphering some of the language. Second, the political, cultural, and historical context of the stories is especially complicated and controversial, so that reading them without accompanying commentary may leave readers with an incomplete understanding of the texts and the stories they seek to represent. Our project seeks to address both of these difficulties, as well as providing additional resources for further study.
From our perspective as builders of a library of digital editions, the Harris stories present a necessary challenge: within these texts, we expect to encounter most of the anticipated difficulties in coding the texts, incorporating the audio and commentaries, and building a platform on which the texts can be displayed and searched. We are using TEI encoding for searchable metadata (allowing users to find all incidences of specific characters, for example, regardless of how they are called in the text).
At the conclusion of this summer program, we will have at least four fully encoded, annotated texts with accompanying audio (divided by paragraph), accessible through a searchable library. We hope to have up to 20 additional texts with TEI markup, with the complete audio (not divided by paragraph), and with commentary and annotations to be developed later.
Watch the projects page for a link to the Digital Editions Library. We plan to launch the prototype texts in July!