Simple Words Touching

Roopika Risam

“Telling Untold Stories: Digital Textual Recovery Methods” in lewis levenberg, Tai Neilson, David Rheams (eds) Research Methods for the Digital Humanities.

As the digital cultural record continues to be developed, it is critical to ensure that writers who are elided from literary canons are not simultaneously omitted from digital cultures. The process of marking-up a text to create an edition and making it available online can bring new attention to texts from writers who have previously received little attention or have disappeared from readership. Greater availability of these texts increases the chance that they will be subject to critical inquiry and scholarship, thus, adding new stories and voices to the digital cultural record. Engaging in the work of digital textual recovery is, therefore, an ethical and political intervention in digital humanities that is essential to cultural survival for marginalized voices.

In this article Professor Risam provides the origin story for the Harlem Shadows Project ( and an overview of how TEI Boilerplate (developed by John Walsh, Grant Simpson, and Saeed Moaddeli) can be used to initiate students into textual editing.

They too may like the invoked youth in the concluding lines of “When I Have Passed Away” ponder a little while

And he may softly hum the tune and wonder
   Who wrote the verses in the long ago;
Or he may sit him down awhile to ponder
   Upon the simple words that touch him so.

From Claude McKay Harlem Shadows (1922)

And fortified, that youth may tackle learning about a fascinating backstory to the Harlem Shadows Project:

And so for day 2789

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