Balisage Paper: Text Encoding and Processing as a University Writing Intensive Course

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Can learning markup languages and coding constitute a “writing intensive” experience for university students? Having taught undergraduate students from a wide range of majors from humanities to the sciences to develop web-based research projects with the the XML family of languages, the author proposes that such coursework should fulfill a common state university requirement of a research-oriented “writing intensive” or "writing-across-the-curriculum" course. Although coding and programming skills are often represented as a kind of literacy, the idea that learning markup technologies may constitute an intensive writing experience is less familiar. This paper calls for teaching markup technologies widely in a cross-disciplinary context to give students across the curriculum an accessible yet intensively challenging course that integrates coding and writing to investigate research questions. Not just any course that introduces students to markup should be considered writing intensive. Arguably, a class that involves tagging exercises without project development and that invites students to write reflectively about the experience is not engaging in an intensive way with the writing work we associate with coding in the full experience of developing a project. This paper argues that a writing intensive course involving the XML family of languages should require algorithmic problem-solving and decision making, research and citation of related projects, task management, and documentation to share the work and help others to build upon it. A course offering such experiences should be accessible to students from several disciplines, whether to a junior year English or history major with little to no programming experience, or a junior year computer science or information technology major with an interest in applied programming, unused to research questions that drive humanities scholarship. In presenting its case, this paper discusses the pedagogical theory and practice of teaching composition and code as well as the concepts of blind interchange and literate programming important to the XML markup community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of Balisage
Subtitle of host publicationThe Markup Conference 2020
PublisherMulberry Tecnologies, Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781935958215
StatePublished - 2020
EventBalisage: The Markup Conference 2020 - Washington, United States
Duration: Jul 27 2020Jul 31 2020

Publication series

NameBalisage Series on Markup Technologies
ISSN (Print)1947-2609


ConferenceBalisage: The Markup Conference 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software


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