Without giving this much thought, I’m inclined to think that there will be quite a few cases where in a given scene or work two characters are equal. Hamlet clearly dominates Hamlet, but Iago has a few more words than Othello. In the Comedy of Errors it is not without interest that Adriana dominates the word count—very much unlike here Plautine precursor.


You can measure ‘presence’ in terms of words spoken or pictures seen, this game is not like elections, where you have to declare a winner.  So you might want to rethink the rules of this game in terms of a spectrum that range from primary to multilateral.  Whether this can be encoded with tolerable consistency is another question.


From: "TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) public discussion list" <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Elisa Beshero-Bondar <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Elisa Beshero-Bondar <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 7:56 PM
To: "TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) public discussion list" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Primary vs. secondary characters


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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