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XQuery Summer Institute

Advancing XML-Based Scholarship from Representation to Discovery


  1. Why the XQuery Summer Institute?

    The XQuery Summer Institute at Vanderbilt University will be aimed at archivists, librarians, professors, and students who have some experience marking up texts in XML, but do not yet know how to work computationally with those documents. Our Institute aspires to recruit twelve members of the digital humanities community and help them to get unstuck and working productively with their XML-encoded texts.

    The leaders of the Institute will offer the training needed for intermediate digital humanists to move to an advanced level of XML expertise. Participants will go beyond using XML for representation to querying XML for discovery.

  2. Why XQuery?

    Learning how to mark up digital texts and learning how to program are significantly different intellectual undertakings. Scholars may learn how to encode scholarly texts using the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines but further skills are needed to investigate them computationally, specifically training in XQuery.

    XQuery is a simple yet powerful language developed by the World Wide Web Consortium for querying and extracting information from multiple XML documents. XQuery has become the principal query language for a new breed of XML databases. With XQuery, scholars can learn a single language to ingest their texts into an XML database, ask questions of them, connect them with other sources of information, and publish them on the web. In short, XQuery is the discovery tool for XML.

  3. Can You Point to Digital Humanities Projects Using XQuery?

    XQuery is already in use in digital humanities scholarship in many fields. Here are a few examples among many.

    • The Theological Commons, the largest open access library in the field of religious studies and theology, is built entirely in XQuery.
    • The Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and the Cologne Center for eHumanities have jointly developed a digital edition in XQuery of the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
    • Rotunda, a digital imprint of the University of Virginia Press, has produced commercial editions using XQuery, including Emily Dickinson’s Correspondences and the Dolley Madison Digital Edition.
    These projects (unaffiliated with the Institute) illustrate the flexibility and scalability of XQuery as a programming language for the digital humanities.

  4. How much experience do I need with markup languages?

    Participants will be expected to have familiarized themselves with the basics of XML markup. Exposure to TEI will be helpful, but not presumed. The fundamentals of XML and TEI will be reviewed during the first week of the Institute.

  5. Which texts will the Institute use?

    There will be three assigned texts for the Institute: