Mémoires de madame la comtesse de L ...

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This digital critical edition of an unpublished 18th century manuscript “Les Mémoires de la comtesse de L…” was created at Mount Holyoke College, as a collective term project for an advanced French literature class. It demonstrates the pedagogical use of XML/TEI technologies in the Classroom.

French 331: Fictional Heroines in the “Ancien Régime”
The purpose of this course is to create an electronic edition of an unpublished 18th century manuscript “Les Mémoires de la comtesse de L.” Using fiction by female writers of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, students will probe into the realities of women’s lives of the time: loveless marriages, convents, prostitution, and madness. In addition to examining fictional heroines of madame de la Fayette, madame Riccoboni, Diderot, L’abbé Prévost, Choderlos de Laclos, and le marquis de Sade, students learn to encode structural, contextual, and analytical elements of the text, using the latest Web Technology by following the Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange.

The purpose of the course was to read and discuss major French fiction documenting the life of women in the 17th and 18th century. Students wrote two traditional papers, but their main research project was the encoding of an unpublished 18th century manuscript, according to TEI Guidelines.

Professor Nicole Vaget and Information Technology Consultant Shaoping Moss prepared in advance the design and format of the manuscript. When class started a model was ready and students could begin encoding literary themes. The manuscript was divided in equal parts and so was the class. Each group consisting of two students was assigned sections of the text for analysis and interpretation.

The selection of themes to be indexed was a collective decision, while the gathering of images to illustrate the text, as well as the choice of significant words and phrases to be marked up with socio-cultural and historical annotations, was left to the individual. On the last day of class, each student presented her part of the project, explaining the rational behind her encoding.

The result is a 60-pages interactive text documenting the life of a young woman of the aristocracy in the 18th century. Important themes such as love and seduction, marriage and convents, fathers and husbands, were encoded, allowing a quick and systematic exploration of the text. The names of people and places, which, according to the fashion of the time, were kept secret, were identified. Relevant images taken mainly from Rococo artists of the period were embedded, and significant words and phrases were marked up to explain the linguistic, or socio- historical context.

Why TAPAS?: 

TAPAS will help us make this collection searcheable by people's names, place name and themes.

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