Towards Better Folklore Texts

Over the past year I began work on a project focused on folk narrative, and I realized that what I what I wanted was better, and easier, access to folklore texts. My, probably limited, experience revealed that finding information about texts, what archivists and information specialists call *metadata*, wasn’t too difficult, though I did find that much of the metadata was not easily gathered: that is, it one could not quickly and easily gather a lot of it for use elsewhere. (More on this later.)

Because I needed better descriptive tools and methods for working with my albeit small collection of texts, I had begun to acquaint myself with TEI, and it became clear that the format held a lot of potential for folklore studies. What follows is my attempt to think publicly, if also tentatively, about the possibilities TEI holds for folklore studies and to begin to think about how to communicate that to my colleagues in folklore studies.

Almost by definition, this piece of the larger project will be less interesting to my colleagues in the digital humanities, who will find much of the ground to be, from their point of view, at least well trod if not worn out. From them I ask patience and enjoin them to correct me early and often. My hope is that what I learn about TEI as I write this will lead to some interesting applications in the computational modeling of folk narrative and they will find *that* interesting.

The series so far…

### Part 1: [Why Folklorists Should Care about TEI][why]

We live, we are (probably too often) told, in a connected world. The internet, we are assured, has brought or will bring us all closer together. But such notions as connection and closeness are dependent upon actual relationships developing, and to do that we must use those two things to communicate. These are obvious things to folklorists, and yet we have been slow to take advantage of such a robust infrastructure as the internet to communicate in more than the usual ways: the exchange of PDFs or the submission of Word documents to journals. These are fine starts, but as anyone who has nurtured an essay or volume to publication knows, a lot gets left out. [More…][why]

### Part 2: [A Brief Note on Exchanging Texts][texts]

At the center of most humanistic endeavors lies text. It can be a single text, or it can be many texts. And the texts themselves can be any length, from the few words of a particular utterance from a particular individual in a particular moment to the thousands of words that make us all of Shakespeare’s work or the millions of words that make up the novels published in England in the nineteenth century. [More…][texts]