Dear TEI list,
A student project team here at Pitt-Greensburg is working on encoding a
pile of fan-contributed scripts for the animated TV series *Rick and Morty*,
which I hear is a pretty amazing show that I ought to have been watching
these past few years. More to the point of my post, my students are working
on analyzing the characters as they interact with one another in the
script, and they'll be extracting information from their markup via XQuery
to help them visualize a social network of "primary" vs. "secondary"
characters (by which they mean to indicate characters who don't take a
primary leading role in an episode). Since a character who is primary in
some episodes might be secondary in others, they want to mark this
information up locally in their script files rather than formalize it in
their separate personography listing.

We were working on the ODD schema for their project today, and I was
finding myself stumped to determine the best way to indicate that a given
character in a script is primary or secondary. Their files do not begin
with a cast list, but instead are simply encoded thus:

<sp who="#speakerID"><speaker>name</speaker><p>talking here.</p></sp>

The team decided they wanted an attribute on the speaker element here to
indicate the "level" of speaker--primary or secondary. They also decided
they'd only want to use it the first time that speaker is mentioned in the
script. They really wanted to use @level for this, for which of course the
TEI has no precedent. (We use @level on <title> elements to indicate levels
of publication, but I don't know of any other uses of it.) My student
(who's a pretty sharp Lit major) asked, "Surely people who code TEI
projects have some way of indicating primary vs. secondary characters?" and
my answer was, "Hmmm. I'm not sure...I wonder if other people I know do
that?" So I'm turning to the list to inquire--if any of you have encoded
literary projects in TEI (say of plays, novels, verse narratives, etc) with
interpretive markup to distinguish primary vs. secondary characters, and if
so, how you've done it?

We decided to customize the <sp> and <persName> elements to give them an
optional attribute @level, and give it a closed value list fitting their
project, but I think I'm committing a heresy in so doing (@level was never
intended for this). I've been skimming through the elements and classes
associated with teidata.enumerated  a little uncertain of what's best. We
thought of @role, but that seemed too specialized, and really what the team
wants is a way to differentiate levels in a hierarchy of importance. I'm
curious to hear some recommendations, and I'll pass them along to the
project team!


Elisa Beshero-Bondar, PhD
Director, Center for the Digital Text | Associate Professor of English
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg | Humanities Division
150 Finoli Drive
Greensburg, PA  15601  USA
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