School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Dr James Cummings

Senior Lecturer in Late Medieval English Literature and Digital Humanities



I am the Senior Lecturer in Late Medieval Literature (c. 1350-1510) and Digital Humanities at the School of English Literature, Language, and Linguistics of Newcastle University. My primary areas of academic interest are on the use of digital technology, primarily for digital editing, and late medieval drama.  Part of my time is also spent on the ATNU project.

Roles and Responsibilities
  • Senior Tutor For Stage 1: For semester 1 of 2020/21 I am Senior Tutor for Stage 1 students in the School of English.

  • Animating Texts Newcastle University: I am part of the ATNU project at Newcastle University which is exploring new frontiers at the cross-roads between traditional scholarly textual editing, digital editing, digital humanities, and computer science. As part of this project I’m involved in a number of digital editing pilot projects.

  • Text Encoding Initiative: From 1 January 2020 - 31 December 2021 I am a member of the TEI Consortium's Board of Directors which is the governing body for the consortium, and is responsible for its strategic and financial oversight. From 1 January 2005 - 31 December 2019 I was an elected member of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium's Technical Council, and was previously its Chair. The TEI Council develops new features and fixes bugs in the TEI Guidelines for encoding digital text, and undertakes other activities related to supporting this standard.

  • Records of Early English Drama: I am on the Executive Board of the Records of Early English Drama project. This is an international scholarly project that works to locate, transcribe and edit historical documents containing evidence of drama, secular music, and other communal entertainment from the Middle Ages until 1642. I am especially involved in their latest REED Online collections published using TEI XML. I am also part of the REED East Anglia Editorial Group.

  • DH Awards: I am the founder and main instigator of the annual open DH Awards (a grass-roots digital humanities awareness raising activity). These are entirely openly nominated, openly voted for, annual recognition awards for any digital humanities resource in any language from any place. These have been running since 2012.

  • The Alan Turing Institute: Humanities and Data Science Research Group, Newcastle University representative.

  • N8CIR: N8 Computationally Intensive Research, 'Digital Humanities' Theme Lead for Newcastle University.

  • Japanese Association of Digital Humanities: I have been on the programme committee for the Japanese Association of Digital Humanities conference since 2014.

  • Digital Medievalist: I was a founding member of Digital Medievalist, a peer-reviewed journal and community of practice for those undertaking digital medieval resource creation, on its executive board from 2003-2012, and its chair from 2009-2012.

  • Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School: I was the founder and director of the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School (DHOxSS) from 2010-2017 when I left Oxford.

  • Reviewing: I regularly review articles for journals such as Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, the Journal of the Text Encoding InitiativeDigital Humanities QuarterlyDigital Studies, and others. I review abstracts for many conferences but especially JADH, ADHO:Digital Humanities, and TEI conferences. I occasionally review funding bids from a variety of funding bodies.

  • PhD Examining: I have acted as an internal examiner and external examiner for PhDs (and DPhils) at a number of other institutions.

  • Advisory Boards: I am on the advisory boards or steering committees of a wide range of projects and initiatives, usually based-on my knowledge  and experience of the TEI.


Educational Qualifications

    My degrees include:

    Previous Employment

    Before working at Newcastle University I worked in various other UK HE institutions in both academic and academic-related roles. A selection of previous positions include:

    • 2015 – 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 - 2017: 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
    • Digital Publishing 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; digital publication frameworks; concepts of peer review in a digital context; and XML technologies for digital research and publication
    • 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, sustainability for digital resources, representations of technology etc.
    • 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.
    • Other Interests: In addition to the widespread interests above, I'm generally interested in the representation of technology as catalysts for social change in the work of fantasy writers like Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.   
    Current Work

    My current work often 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 am helping build capacity in the area of digital textual studies.

    Postgraduate Supervision

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

    • scholarly digital editing, how critical editions should function in a digital world
    • digital publishing, markup, and our complex digital interactions with text(s) 
    • late medieval drama, records of drama, medieval performance, performance places
    • late medieval texts and digital representations of them
    LAB|Pro and NU-LAB

     I am a co-investigator of the LAB|Pro partnership that I am a co-investigator of the has recently been awarded one of three, $1 million USD grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (in partnership with the US National Historical Publications and Records Commission) to develop a publishing co-operative for digital editions that supports an expanding collection of peer-reviewed digital scholarly works. This international project is led by Diane Jakacki at Bucknell University and also partners with Susan Brown of the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory. My own NU-LAB sub-project involves testing and improving the software to cope with the kinds of scholarly digital editions we are making in Newcastle and feed into the containerisation and deployment of the software with the help of research software engineers in Newcastle's Digital Institute.


    I am working as part of a number of projects including the Animating Text Newcastle University project, REED: London projectStationers' Register Online, and many others. A recent bid that was funded is a $1 Million USD Mellon/NHPRC bid for Liberal Arts Based Digital Publishing Cooperative, led by Diane Jakacki at Bucknell University with both me and Susan Brown of CWRC as partners. For more information on this see

    Previous Projects

    Some projects I've previously been a member of include: 

    • DiXiT: an EU-funded Marie Curie Innovative Training network on digital scholarly editing with Andreas Speer (University of Cologne) and others. Role: Oxford Scientist-in-charge 
    • DEMM: an Erasmus training programme on Digital Editing of Medieval Manuscripts. Role: Text Encoding Lecturer
    • Stationers' Register Online: Full text transcription and TEI encoding of the Stationers' Register with Ian Gadd (Bath Spa University), Giles Bergel (University of Oxford), Pip Willcox (Bodleian Libraries). Role: Technical Director and TEI Specialist
    • Digital REED: Records of Early English Drama is a long-term international project transcribing and publishing extracts relating to early drama. I am responsible for the creation of its TEI schema as part of helping to improve its digital workflow, with Sally-Beth MacLean (REED, University of Toronto) and others. Role: TEI Academic Consultant, Member of the Executive Board 
    • TEI Simple: This Mellon-funded project has produced a TEI customisation (TEI simplePrint) based on large text corpora such as the Oxford Text Archive and Text Creation Partnership and developed processing model documentation for TEI customisations, with Sebastian Rahtz (University of Oxford), Martin Mueller (Northwestern University), Brian Pytlik-Zillig (University of Nebraska). Role: TEI Academic Consultant, TEI Council Liaison  
    • iSicily: Building a digital corpus of Sicilian inscriptions, with Jonathan Prag (University of Oxford). Role: Overall Academic IT Lead and Technical Project Manager 
    • LEAP: Livingstone-online Enhancement and Access Project, with Adrian Wisnicki (Centre for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska – Lincoln). Role: Academic Partner and TEI Consultant
    • Wandering Jew's Chronicle Research Archive: This project led by Gile Bergel (University of Oxford) provided an archive and digital critical edition of an unusual English popular ballad printed between 1634 and 1830 in numerous different formats and editions. Role: Programmer, Technical Project Manager, and TEI Consultant.
    • Bodleian First Folio: Digitization, full text transcription, and TEI encoding of the Bodleian's First Folio, with Pip Willcox (Bodleian Libraries). Role: TEI Academic Consultant. 
    • William Godwin's Diary: Award-winning digitization, full text transcription, and TEI encoding of the William Godwin's diary 1788-1836, with Mark Philp (Warwick). Role: Technical Lead, Developer, and TEI Academic Consultant 
    • Holinshed's Chronicles: Digital texts of both 1577 and 1587 editions of Holinshed's Chronicles with Ian Archer, Paulina Kewes, and Felicity Heal (University of Oxford); Role: TEI and Technical Consultant 
    • French Oral Narrative Corpus: Creation of a linguistic corpus of oral storytelling in French with Janice Carruthers (Queen's University, Belfast). Role: TEI Consultant
    • ENRICH: European Networking Resources and Information Concerning Cultural Heritage; Multi-national EU eContent project to create seamless access to manuscript descriptions across Europe, led from the National Library of Czech Republic. Role: Senior Academic Researcher 
    • Staging the Henrician Court: an interdisciplinary project on early drama building on performance, literary analysis and historical research with Tom Betteridge (Oxford Brookes, now Brunel) and Greg Walker (Edinburgh). Role: IT Consultant 
    • CURSUS Project: Transcription, editing, and publication of medieval Benedictine liturgical service books with David Chadd (University of East Anglia). Role: Research Associate and Technical Lead 


    Undergraduate Teaching

    2020 - 21: (Research Leave)

    • SEL3055: Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the book of the future 

    2019 - 20:

    • SEL1004: Introduction to Literary Studies 2
    • SEL1023: Transformations
    • SEL2210: Independent Research Project
    • SEL3362: Dissertations in English Literature
    • SEL3377: Dissertation in English Literature & History
    • CLA3090: Special Study on an Aspect of Classical Influence in English Literature
    • SEL3055: Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the book of the future
    • SEL3090: Chaucer, Chivalry, and Heresy in the Middle Ages (moderating)

    2018 - 19:

    • SEL3055: Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the book of the future
    • SEL1023: Transformations
    • SEL3362: Dissertations in English Literature
    • SEL3377: Dissertation in English Literature & History
    • SEL3090 : Chaucer, Chivalry, and Heresy in the Middle Ages (moderating) 

    2017 - 18:

    • SEL3383: From the Black Death to the Tudors:Traditions and transformations in medieval literature
    • SEL1023: Transformations
    • SEL3362 Dissertations in English Literature 
    • SEL8542 MA: Research Matters 2
    Postgraduate Teaching
    • HSS8004 Qualitative Methodology in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences 
    PhD Supervisions
    • Peter Hebden "Creative Digital Interventions into Poetry"; co-supervisor with Linda Anderson, 2017-