How to cite this paper

Bauman, Syd. “Pointy brackets for poets: Can an English Major Use XML?” Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2017, Washington, DC, August 1 - 4, 2017. In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2017. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 19 (2017).

Balisage: The Markup Conference 2017
August 1 - 4, 2017

Balisage Paper: Pointy brackets for poets: Can an English Major Use XML?

Syd Bauman

Northeastern University

Syd Bauman began working at the Women Writers Project in 1990. Although his title would have you believe that he is a computer programmer, Syd is fond of pointing out that he doesn’t write that much actual code; when he does, it is usually in XSLT, and his programs are always copylefted.

A large part of Syd’s job is teaching XML and TEI — and perhaps XPath and XSLT — to humanities students employed by the WWP and to scholars, librarians, and students around the world.

Syd became a hard-core computer user in 1982 and a devotee of descriptive markup two years later. He began using SGML and the TEI when he came to the Women Writers Project. From 2001 to 2007, Syd served as North American editor of the TEI, and he is currently on the TEI Technical Council.

Copyright © 2017 by the author. Used with permission.


For nearly thirty years the Women Writers Project has been training university students in the humanities to encode SGML and XML documents and to edit marked up texts, without the WYSIWYG interfaces that are sometimes thought to be absolutely essential for domain experts interacting with marked up data. A historical survey of the tools and training methods used in the project will be followed by an attempt to identify what can be learned from the project’s experience: what works, what doesn’t work, and what (we think) are the ideal circumstances for teaching XML.