• The Form of the Page: Preserving Standard Layout in Multimodal Presentations of Text

    Joshua Waxman (see profile)
    Global Digital Humanities Symposium
    Digital humanities, Information technology, Digital media, Natural language processing (Computer science), Talmud
    Item Type:
    alignment, digital editions, multimodal, paratext, Digital technologies, History of the printed edition, Multimodality, Natural language processing
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    Recent trends in the digital humanities include a move toward the creation of multimodal documents, often based on works which were previously purely textual. The layout of the multimodal document is divorced from its original format. Our ongoing work on a digital presentation of the Babylonian Talmud encompasses several non-textual elements, such as relevant scholastic network graphs of the scholars engaged in debate, biographic background of said scholars, and color-coding sentences for discourse type. Additionally, we incorporate additional textual elements into the original purely consonantal Hebrew and Aramaic text, such as vowel diacritics, punctuation, and an English translation. A tension exists between the traditional pagination / layout of the Tamud and a multimodal presentation. The Vilna Edition of the Talmud (typeset, printed in the 1870s and 1880s) is the standard / traditional presentation. A page of Talmud is hypertextual. The main text appears in a center column, and two commentaries wrap around this text. The amount of Talmudic text on a page is determined by typesetting concerns, so that all relevant commentary appears on the page. This typesetting (including which words appear on which line, and the width of lines) has been reproduced in subsequent printings, even as other aspects of the text have been tweaked, and is important to the acceptance of the text. Religious and academic works refer to this pagination, e.g. Pesachim 20a, much as Plato scholars refer to pages in the Stephanus printing; Aristotle scholars refer to the page, section and line number in the Bekker printing; or legal scholars refer to pagination in Blackstone. Starting with text and metadata of the Vilna printing, we align our new text (often wider due to punctuation and markup) via Needleman-Wunsch to ensure a standard pagination and typesetting. Other multimodal aspects are superimposed on this standard form of the page.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago


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