My first post of the day

I wasn’t able to participate in the last Day of Digital Humanities, so I’m quite excited to take part in this one, although it’s not going to be a very typical day for me at all. Usually I spend a large amount of my time either in meetings (if I’m at the office in London) or planning/writing/catching up if I’m working from home (in Oxford).

Tomorrow, I’m going to be at a symposium organised by Out of the Wings ( one of the projects I’m involved in) on Spanish Golden Age Drama in Translation and Performance. I’m going to be presenting a new version of the website tomorrow and I’ve just finished some slides that I’m using as backup in case I get network connections. It’s late here, so I’m going to turn in now – more tomorrow!

New day

Yesterday was quite a long one, so I’ve started relatively slowly. Having eaten my porridge and tried to convince my daughter to have some of hers, I am now on to re-caffeination and making preparations for my day at a symposium here in Oxford. I just took one quick trip to the garden to enjoy the crocuses I put in the grass at the top last autumn and to check up on the vegetables in the greenhouse. Now on to business!

Thankfully I cleared out a lot of email yesterday, so my inbox is quieter than usual, but I have just dealt with a few quick issues, including taking a look at the use cases which my colleague in CeRCH Stuart Dunn has carried out on one of our (CCH’s) projects being used for the TEXTvre project, and I have forwarded the report to other colleagues for comment before I send him feedback tomorrow.

I’m going to be late now if I don’t get on that bus – strange to be catching a bus into the centre of Oxford when I spend half of my life on the bus between Oxford and London.

Symposium on Spanish Golden Age Drama in Translation and Performance

The symposium I am attending today has been organised by the Out of the Wings project, “a project which aims to make the riches of the theatres of Spain and Spanish America accessible to English-speaking researchers and theatre professionals”. The theme is Golden Age Drama in Translation and Performance, and the event combines academic papers with sample performances from Spanish language plays translated into English.

This morning’s session has seen presentations about Calderón and Cervantes and is now ending with a very entertaining presentation about the Spanish Comedia by Victor Dixon, using the voice of Lope de Vega. There will also be a rehearsed reading of Jo Clifford’s translation of Gil Vicente’s one-act play Don Duardos and a workshop on the Out of the Wings (Jeffs and Burton-Morgan) translation of Lope de Vega’s Punishment without revenge (El castigo de venganza), and this is the thing that fascinates me about this project – the crossover between historical interpretation of Spanish drama, performance and translation, which bring together academics and practitioners.

We’re going to present a first version of the database of authors, plays and translators that we’ve been developing for that project later and so I’m excited (but also a little nervous!) to hear what people think about what we’ve done so far.

Coffee break and ‘La entretenida’

Coffee break in Merton College Hall at the Out of the Wings symposium (cue obligatory photograph of spectacular Oxford college hall interior, with Jonathan Thacker, Duncan Wheeler, John O’Neill and David Johnston) and chance to catch up with colleagues on the project, who I haven’t seen for a while in some cases.

A helpful suggestion from one of the partipants (Susan Fischer from Bucknell University) about a database of Shakespeare’s plays which we might take a look at -with the OOTW database we are not only aiming to publish the plays that form part of the project research itself, but also to create a model which might be used and adapted for any project looking at the transmission of theatre from one language to another, and to enable cross-database querying, where appropriate. I’m hoping to meet people from a major project in Valencia, Spain to explore the same issue soon.

Some discussion with John O’Neill, Postgraduate Research Assistant on Out of the Wings, with whom we are collaborating on a mini-project within the project, a digital edition of La entretenida by Cervantes, the first version of which we are now preparing for a couple of conference presentations (including a paper at the Renaissance Society of America conference in April).

Brief discussion with a couple of people about the latest UK higher education funding news (see More on the university funding squeeze on the BBC website), which inevitably will set off a few ripples here.

Funding application, semantic web

Just got email about a funding application we’re hoping to be part of, and which would allow a consortium of organisations to create an open framework to facilitate the management and preservation of cultural and academic assets on the semantic web.

OK, I admit that sounds a bit general/dry, but trust me that this is going to be interesting if it goes ahead!

Am trying to get myself up to speed with developments in this area after our ontological research on the Henry III Fine Rolls project, and talking with other colleagues around the world this seems to be a research area which is growing in interest. We’re planning to undertake research into a generic tool which might facilitate entity management – partly based on recent research (led by our former colleague Tamara Lopez) into the EATS (Entity Authority Tool Set) system, developed by Jamie Norrish at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre – as this will be a major part of a number of our projects in future, including The Gascon Rolls Project 1317-1468.

From ‘Don Duardos’ rehearsed reading to DH2010

I just attended a rehearsed reading of Jo Clifford’s translation of Gil Vicente’s one-act play Don Duardos, performed as part of the Out of the Wings Symposium I am attending. To quote from the pitch in our database, (written by Kathleen Jeffs for the project):

“This lyrical story of a knight and his beloved lady takes the form of a courtly love story, based on a chivalric novel.  It rivals the best tales of knights and ladies torn between passion and duty.”

I had to miss the roundtable discussion with the translator, directors and actors afterwards, but the performance was excellent, and follows a series of great productions of Spanish plays that I have attended recently, confirming the belief of the OOTW project directors that Spanish language theatre presents a relatively untapped resource as far as the English-speaking dramatic world is concerned.

I left the session after the performances to catch up on things and am currently dealing with a couple of minor issues relating to Digital Humanities 2010, which we’re hosting this year. We’ve hosted another two conferences in recent years (Computers, Literature and Philology / CLiP2006 and the Text Encoding Iniative’s Members’ Meeting and conference / TEI2008), but this is a whole different level …

Seriously, DH2010 promises to be as engaging as ever – the only problem is that we expect to be heavily subscribed, so I strongly recommend people register early!


It’s been a long, but fascinating day. I presented a first version of the Out of the Wings database to the symposium I was at with my colleague Geoffroy Noel, and with the help of the post-doctoral research assistants Gwynneth Dowling, Gwen MacKeith and Kathleen Jeffs. We currently have a database which allows people to view plays, authors and translators for a given work, or to search on various criteria (gender, genre, cast list, country of origin …) and will soon turn to the final stage (adding user-generated facilities so that users can bookmark entries, annotate them, suggest a play for inclusion etc).

Some interesting discussions with people after the event on topics familiar to this community: the potential for connection between different scholarly resources relating to a given theme; the challenges in preserving digital objects; and the fact that the heart of digital humanities is not the use of technology per se, but the kind of modelling that this facilitates, and the way that this affects ‘conventional’ scholarship.

A fine dinner after the event, where I learned a lot about Golden Age Spanish drama, and we had an animated (but friendly) argument about the correct date of Cervantes’ death (I’m proud to say that my memory is not completely shot – I got it right this time).

Then home, and ten minutes of Family Guy before returning to email, and a quick look at the menu for tomorrow. I need to start an article based on a conference presentation I shared last year at the CHARTA conference in Spain on research involving a TEI-based framework for editing and publishing historical Spanish archival texts, produced in collaboration with Elena Pierazzo (KCL), Carmen Isasi (Deusto University, Spain) and Irene Vicente (Alcalá de Henares, Spain). I also need to do marking, produce an abstract on John O’Neill’s La entretenida edition for another conference and catch up on another couple of projects, including our Anglo-Saxon Cluster project, which aims to explore the issues in integrating disparate Anglo-Saxon projects.

It’s my turn to take our daughter to nursery tomorrow morning, so it’s really time for bed … it’s been fun contributing to this!