Tuesday 27, 2009
            Northern Michigan University English Professor Robert Whalen has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. The fellowship will allow him to work full time during the 2009-10 academic year on “The Digital Temple,” an electronic documentary edition of 17th century devotional poet George Herbert’s English verse.

Whalen’s goal is to transcribe and encode the verse of three essential Herbert artifacts: two manuscripts and a copy of the first edition of “Temple.” The new digital tool will allow users to view multiple-source documents simultaneously in high resolution and thoroughly examine the texts with sophisticated analysis software. 

 “I am delighted to receive this prestigious award,” Whalen said. “Having worked on this project for seven years, I was beginning to wonder whether I would have the support necessary to complete it. I am relieved to know that this is now certain. Most gratifying, however, is the acknowledgment by my scholarly peers that the project is worthwhile. The NEH awards are highly competitive; that The Digital Temple was selected is a tremendous vote of confidence. I am deeply honored."

“The Digital Temple” is under contract with University of Virginia Press. When complete, it will include original-spelling transcriptions; links to high-resolution images of the artifacts, which total about 700 pages; a critical apparatus for annotations, commentary and introductions; and a user interface with which to navigate these materials. Whalen is manually treating the transcriptions with TEI-XML, a robust encoding protocol that, together with customized interface software, will allow users to perform sophisticated data search, retrieval and analysis.  

The $50,400 NEH Fellowship, combined with an in-kind contribution from NMU, will pay Whalen's salary during the 2009-2010 academic year. He has been granted sabbatical leave from the university this semester, so he will essentially have 18 months to devote full time to “The Digital Temple.” 

A prototype of the project is available at http://myweb.nmu.edu/~rwhalen/v-machine(4.0)/index(new).htm.

Kristi Evans
News Director