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"Pacience is an Heigh Vertu": Managing The Canterbury Tales Project Via Textual Communities

Dase, Kyle; Atkings, Nicole

Any large digital humanities project presents a difficult institutional problem: a small cluster of academics, most likely traditionally trained as independent researchers, can find themselves at the head of a team that closely resembles a small tech startup. At least, this was the experience of The Canterbury Tales Project, Phase 2, with upwards of thirty employees transcribing on an environment under ongoing development; programmers working on that environment ; and senior members of the project promoting that environment and transcription of the Canterbury Tales to other academics internationally through workshops.

This article is a reflective essay on the second phase of the Canterbury Tales Project and the various successes and challenges that unfolded throughout that process. Our focus is how the project both managed the transcription team working locally at the University of Saskatchewan and facilitated transcription workshops abroad. We detail our training process and the transcription workflow as facilitated via the Textual Communities environment. We also examine and evaluate the causes of the project’s challenges—often the result of institutional pressures or technological changes—and our reactions to those challenges, emphasizing successful strategies. Finally, we proffer future changes for the project that we believe would have made considerable positive impact if implemented from the outset of phase two and still have potential as helpful resources now. It is our hope that in detailing our process we can help other large DH projects mimic our successes and, perhaps even more importantly, avoid any pitfalls that challenged us.

This upload is the submission draft of a collection of articles from the Canterbury Tales Project Team to appear in Digital Medievalist.
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