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Featured Abstract: “A theoretically-rich approach to teaching to model”
Elena Pierazzo, King’s College
Modelling is at the heart of most of my teaching: when teaching XML, XSLT, TEI within an MA in Digital Humanities you need to provide the students with intellectual challenges as well as technical skills. In fact, modelling can be seen as the intellectual activity which lies at the base of any computational effort, namely the methods and the languages we invent to communicate our understanding of a particular cultural object (such as a text, a statue, a piece of music) to the computer and, via the computer, to the users. Effective modelling depends on a deep analysis and understanding of the object to be modelled, so it is also essential to encourage and train students’ analytical skills as part of introducing them to modelling; the provision of theoretical frameworks within which to conduct the analysis and subsequent modelling has proven to be a highly successful approach with MA and PhD students. The case study to be presented here will be the modelling of texts of manuscripts and of the transmission of texts through centuries, materials and people. Transmission of texts can be seen as an act of communication, and so communication and linguistic theories (particularly those of Shannon-Weaver 1948/63, Berlo 1960, Saussure 1961 and Jakobson 1960 ) can cast some new light over the way we analyse, model and understand the texts contained in manuscripts as well as their relationship with the author’s intentions and the reader’s experience. The use of such a complex theoretical framework has proven to help students move conceptually from the empirical to the abstract, a process that is fundamental for modelling. My talk will present some considerations and examples of analytical and modelling activities applied to text transmission and which have been used in the classroom at King’s College London.