School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Dr James Cummings

Senior Lecturer in English Literature



I am a Senior Lecturer in English Literature (c. 1350-1510) and Digital Humanities at the School of English Literature, Language, and Linguistics of Newcastle University. I work on the the use of digital technology, primarily for digital editing, and late medieval drama.  I am also part of the ATNU project at Newcastle University.

I have recently moved the Newcastle University from the University of Oxford.  While at Oxford I founded the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School (with the help of many people to run it). As part of my current post I will continue to undertake various digital humanities activities especially those concentrating on scholarly digital editing.

Roles and responsibilities

I am part of the ATNU project at Newcastle University. Since 2005 I have been an elected member of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium's Technical Council, and was previously its Chair. This develops new features and fixes bugs in the TEI Guidelines for encoding digital text, and undertakes other activities related to supporting this standard. As a result I have a great deal of experience with XML and related digital publishing technologies.

I am on the Executive Board of the Records of Early English Drama project. I am the founder of the annual DH Awards (a grass-roots digital humanities awareness raising activity). I was also a founding member of Digital Medievalist, a peer-reviewed journal and networking group for those undertaking digital medieval resource creation, and its chair from 2009-2012. 

Previous Positions

Previous to working at Newcastle University I worked for the University of Oxford for 14 years in a variety of roles. Some previous positions include:

  • 2015 – 25 August 2017: Senior Academic Research Technology Specialist, Research Support Team, Academic IT, IT Services, University of Oxford
  • 2012 – 2015: Senior Digital Research Specialist, Research Support Team, Academic IT, IT Services, University of Oxford
  • 2010 – 2017: Founding Director of Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School – IT Services, University of Oxford on behalf of the Digital Humanities at Oxford network
  • 2010 - 2012: Co-Manager of InfoDev (Research Support and Data Solutions) – Oxford University Computing Services, University of Oxford
  • 2008 - 2010: Consultant – Staging the Henrician Court Project, Oxford Brookes University
  • 2008 - 2010: Senior Research Technologist – Research Technologies Service, Oxford University Computing Services, University of Oxford
  • 2007 - Present: Associated Researcher – Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, University of Victoria, Canada
  • 2005 - 2006: Part-Time Lecturer – Centre for the Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
  • 2004 - 2007: Part-Time Lecturer – Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London
  • 2003 - 2008: Research Officer – Oxford Text Archive and Arts and Humanities Data Service, Oxford University Computing Services, University of Oxford
  • 2001 - 2003: Associate Tutor – School of English and American Studies, University of East Anglia
  • 2000 - 2003: Research Associate – CURSUS Project, School of Music, University of East Anglia
  • 1998 - 2000: Associate Tutor – Department of English, University of Hull
  • 1995 - 2000: Postgraduate Lecturer – School of English, University of Leeds


Overview/Research Interests

Medieval Literature research interests: archival sources for digital literary studies; medieval dramatic texts; non-cycle plays; The Conversion of St Paul; the Records of Early English Drama project; REED research in East Anglia; para-dramatic activity including processions, waits and minstrelsy; participatory and practical research in early drama studies; manuscript description and editing; material culture and manuscript studies; manuscript relationships to early print culture; palaeography, etc.

Digital Editing research interests:  Animating Text Newcastle University (ATNU); digital scholarly editing (theory and practice); markup and text encoding; strategies for full-text digitisation; the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative;  meta-schemas and project customisation; markup theory; theories of text, concepts of digital texts; collaborative digital textual editing, REED Online, etc.

Digital Humanities research interests:  legacy data migration; infrastructural support for digital research; digital archiving; data curation and the long-term preservation of digital resources (theory and practice); digital intellectual property rights; concepts of peer review in a digital context; and XML technologies for digital research and publication, etc.

Current Work

My current work relates to the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative, the encoding and publication of scholarly digital editions, and digital editions of late medieval drama. I am working with the Records of Early English Drama - East Anglia editorial group as I am contributing records relating to communities in north-west Norfolk. I am part of the ATNU: Animating Texts Newcastle University project and will be helping build capacity in the area of digital editing.


I am applying for project funding both under the ATNU umbrella and separately. I am working as part of a number of projects including the REED: London project, ATNU, Stationers' Register Online, and many others.

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome applications for postgraduate research supervision from students whose research proposals intersect with any of the topics above but especially topics such as:

  • scholarly digital editing, how critical editions should function in a digital world
  • text, markup, and our complex digital interactions with text(s) 
  • late medieval drama, records of drama, medieval performance, performance places


Undergraduate Teaching

2018 - 19:

  • SEL3035: Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the book of the future

2017 - 18:

  • SEL3383: From the Black Death to the Tudors:Traditions and transformations in medieval literature
  • SEL1023: Transformations
  • Plus marking: SEL3362 (Dissertations in English Literature) and SEL8542 (MA: Research Matters 2) 
Postgraduate Teaching
  • HSS8004 Qualitative Methodology in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (I'll be providing some sessions on digital editing)
PhD Supervision
  • Peter Hebden "Creative Digital Interventions into Poetry"; co-supervisor with Linda Anderson, 2017-