ENGL 388R: Romantic Circles Internship

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About Romantic Circles

http://www.rc.umd.edu/

Romantic Circles is a refereed scholarly Website devoted to Romantic period literature and culture. In existence since 1996, the site has helped to pioneer digital editions of literary works made freely available on the Web. Romantic Circles is currently serving approximately 850 thousand pages each year to users in over 190 countries around the world. See the "About" page for more information.

The Romantic Circles Platform

Romantic Circles is powered by Drupal, a free and open source Content Management System (CMS). Drupal is a popular platform used by many thousands of companies, government agencies, and educational institutions. As such, interns will have a chance to learn the basics of Drupal and the core concepts of dynamic, database-driven Web sites.

Internship Responsibilities/Opportunities

An internship with Romantic Circles (388R) presents opportunities for building many Web-based skills:

  • Encoding techniques: Includes both HTML and XML encoding. Interns will come to understand the core differences between these two languages and the "semantic" possibilities of the latter.
  • Leveraging metadata: Well-structured metadata is key to sites with a complex architecture like RC. Interns will learn the various types of metadata that power RC and find new ways to leverage that metadata for the benefit of user navigation.
  • Building custom database queries: Using the site's architecture, interns will build custom queries to offer new ways of navigating the site.
  • Geocoding techniques: Interns may have opportunities to build map features on the site using geocoding and georeferencing techniques.
  • Building content: Interns will learn RC's content publishing system and will be responsible for creating and editing certain kinds of content.
  • Graphic design: For each resource RC publishes, banners and icons are necessary to "brand" them and provide some visual interest. Interns will use Photoshop to learn basic techniques of graphic design.

Requirements

While the only requirements for a Romantic Circles intern are a strong work ethic and an interest in the subject matter, there are a few skills that will put a prospective intern a step or two ahead:

  • Basic HTML markup skills and familiarity with CSS
  • Some experience with CMS's or blogging platforms like Wordpress
  • Basic knowledge of graphic design using software like Photoshop

Course Outline

While the learning opportunities for interns will vary from semester to semester, the outline below details the kinds of skill that will be addressed during the internship -and in what proportions.

  1. Fundaments of the Web (1-2 wks)
    1. HTML: We will begin by covering the basic language of the Web. Interns will begin with a tutorial on HTML, followed by marking up some pages for Romantic Circles.
    2. CSS: Interns will also take a basic tutorial in CSS, then practice using it to manipulate the look of the HTML pages they've marked up.
  2. TEI/XML Encoding (4 wks)
    1. Markup: Once folks reach an understanding of HTML markup, we will introduce XML encoding and its particular flavor in the TEI. Here we will introduce the core concept of "semantic" markup and its implications for describing the hierarchy and structure of a document, as opposed to the strictly display-based nature of HTML. Interns will markup-and validate-several TEI documents.
    2. Integration with the database: Since all of RC's peer-reviewed materials are initially marked up in TEI, then transformed to HTML for display on the Web, we will discuss and practice our method for ingesting data based on the "semantic" markup of TEI into our database and our use of XSLTs for transforming our TEI documents to HTML for final display on the Web. Note that we will discuss the basics of XSL but not have time to work with this language directly.
  3. Visual Design (1 wk)
    1. Photoshop: Dispersed throughout the semester will be an opportunity to work on the graphic design of the banners, icons, and other image components that RC uses to "brand" its resources.
  4. An Introduction to Drupal (1 wk)
    1. A basic introduction to Drupal and its instantiation in Romantic Circles. Interns will learn about basic administration in Drupal and content development and will learn about the architecture of RC through concepts like content types, fields, menus, blocks, and others.
  5. Architecture and Infrastructure: (3-4 wks)
    1. Metadata: This will be one of the core concepts of our work over the course of the semester. Interns will learn about the importance of well-structured metadata for an effective database-driven site, and they will develop, modify, and manipulate metadata on the site in various ways. This includes understanding and working with important Drupal modules such as Taxonomy, Entity Reference, and Views. During this process, interns will also learn about building custom database queries (through the Views module) to display the site's content in various ways based on the metadata they've developed.
    2. Other Infrastructural components: Here we will discuss the functionality of various other site components not discussed already, including theming, other important modules, importing content to the site, and understanding site statistics.
  6. Working with Multimedia (1 wk)
    1. RC hosts audio and video on the site. Interns will work with these multimedia files and the third-party resources we use to host them.
    2. Mapping: Interns will work with the suite of tools we have in place for mapping content on the site. It will utilize the Google Maps API to find geographic coordinates for content on the site and may also include techniques such as georeferencing and map tiling. This task will bring together many of the core concepts/skills we've discussed so far, including TEI encoding and metadata development, and is intended as a prelude to the final project.
  7. Final Project (3 wks)
    1. Bringing the pieces together from the semester's work, interns will help choose a final project that will involve the production of an RC resource, whether in whole or in part.

Papers

There will be two short papers due during the semester.

  1. A mid-term: A 2 to 3 page report about what techniques you've learned so far and how they come together to form a coherent process for Website production. You will also discuss challenges you've faced and how the first part of the semester may lead you to different interests in the second part.
  2. A final: A 5 to 7 page paper that reflects upon the final project and the semester as a whole. The assignment will vary depending on the project, but it will prompt a discussion of what the techniques of producing a resource reveal about the content of the resource and will require you to synthesize the skills and concepts you've learned over the course of the semester.

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