Helpathon–From the Ground Up to An Electronic Edition of _The Beggar’s Opera_

For some time now, I’ve wanted to do an electronic edition of John Gay’s great text, The Beggar’s Opera.   I’ve published on it and teach it every chance I get, but what’s lacking is a scholarly and pedagogical resource that takes is true to the multi-media roots and performance of the text, its intertextual reach, and its rich history of adaptation.  So I’m wondering if THATCampers could–speaking very slowly and simply for a newbie like me to understand–help me understand the basics of what I would have to know (programming languages, data management, etc.) to realize that vision.  In addition to the 1728 text, I’m imagining nodes for:  1) images and clips of performances; 2) opera; 3) criminal discourse; 4) political satire; 5) the history of adaptations of the play.

6 thoughts on “Helpathon–From the Ground Up to An Electronic Edition of _The Beggar’s Opera_

  1. I am involved with a documentary digital editing project at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Are you familiar with TEI? It’s an XML markup language developed for those in the humanities to present texts for online research, teaching, and preservation. There is a lot that you can do with it, and may work for what you’re looking to do. We are among the few using it for a history project; it’s mostly used for projects with a more literary scope.

  2. Wow–I love this work and love this project! But rather than learning to do it all yourself, my advice would be to find some talented partners and collaborate. There are *many* dimensions of this kind of project that make it impractical for one person to take on alone, in my opinion. That said, for the literary scholar, TEI is a powerful tool and there are excellent workshops available for scholars who are newcomers to the idea of marking up texts. Julia Flanders at Brown does a lot of these.

  3. There’s some great Beggar’s Opera stuff in the Special Collections at Bryn Mawr College, right Christa? As a musicologist-turned-special collections librarian, I’d be delighted to participate and/or be kept in the loop on such a project.

  4. Thanks to all for your helpful suggestions!

    Sarah, I had not heard of Lydis, but her work is very strong, and one of my colleagues at Temple has done work on _Beggar’s Opera_ adaptations in Latin America, and I hope to include her findings; so Lydis would make an interesting case.

    Faith, I know of TEI but am not familiar with it; I hope to be more so after Boot Camp tomorrow (I’m in the XML session), and, Christa, I would be happy to have collaborators. John, I hadn’t known about Bryn Mawr’s holdings, either (including a copy of Lydis’ lithographs.) But those look interesting, too. If I develop this project, I will certainly keep you posted. Speaking of music, I should have added that I would want a node for ballads, which has been the subject of a good deal of my research.

    See you all tomorrow or Saturday!

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