In this extremely accessible article, Sperberg-McQueen uses
concrete examples of medieval and early modern texts to
illustrate some of the complicated problems in designing methods
of encoding texts in machine-readable form for textual study.
While answering the question "What constitutes an adequate
representation of texts?", this article presents a good overview
of the theory behind the Text Encoding Initiative, and contains
many clear explanations of terms for the novice.
C. M. Sperberg-McQueen. "Text in the Electronic Age:
Textual Study and Text Encoding, With Examples from Medieval
Texts." Literary and Linguistic Computing 6 (1991):
sets out a series of axioms that any markup scheme must
Many textual examples and illustrations are used to
make the point that while not everyone will need to use every tag
defined by the TEI, it is important that this ideal markup system
allow any potential understanding of the text to be expressed.
(Stephanie Hill Simione.)
- Markup must reflect a theory of the text.
- It must allow for expression of textual interpretation.
- Markup must acknowledge that there are no finite sets of
textual features to be marked, texts to be tagged, or uses to
which texts may be put.
- It must be able to describe linguistic organization.
- Markup must recognize that texts are physical objects and are
both linear and hierarchical, and it must be able to tag cross-
and self-references within texts.
- Finally, markup must express that texts refer to real and
fictive objects and are themselves cultural and historical
Text: Selective Annotated Bibliography.
Department of English, University of Minnesota
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Created 6 May 1995
Last revised 17 September 1996