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IPP Workshop Series: A Critical Exploration of Word Processing: Plain Text Writing in the Humanities (Marie-Christine Boucher)


Jan 18, 2022 from 02:00 to 04:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)


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Scholars in the humanities spend a lot of time composing texts, yet typically spend much less time reflecting on the technical environment in which they compose them. Even though print represents an increasingly small part of the way scholars interact with texts, the widespread use of omnipresent word processing software imposes the framework of printing to the digital writing workflow. This results in text files kept in closed, inflexible and unsustainable formats. In their critique, some digital edition researchers even go as far as to argue that humanities scholars who do not possess basic technical writing skills "do not know how to write, and therefore, should not do it" (Vitali-Rosati 2018, my translation). Yet, the topic is rarely addressed as part of the formal curriculum of humanities degrees.


In the first part of the workshop, the participants will be invited to briefly reflect on the technical aspects of their own writing workflow. After a brief theoretical overview of different word processing methods, the participants will learn about alternative ways to write texts using a plain text workflow: the concept of semantic markup, transformation tools that allow to output the text in various formats (.docx, .odt, .pdf, .html, etc.) and available software. The second part of the workshop, which will be more hands-on, will allow participants to observe a demonstration of the methods, or experiment it themselves if they wish to do so, and point to resources that can help them implement their own plain text workflow.



Note: The sessions of the IPP Workshop Series are open for BA, MA and PhD students and the participants do not require any previous knowledge to take part.


// Marie-Christine Boucher (GCSC) 


The IPP Workshop Series "Reading Culture: Established and Emerging Approaches" provides the space for IPP members to give a workshop that deals with current concepts and methods of literary and cultural theory related to their research interests. It aims at creating an interactive discussion for doctoral researchers as well as undergraduate students. The topics may range from general introductions to different "schools" of literary and cultural theory to concepts, methods and subjects of literary and cultural theory.