Half-day Workshop

Digital Annotation and Analysis of Literary Texts. A hands-on introduction to CATMA 

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Prof. Dr. Jan Christoph Meister
Universität Hamburg
Department of Languages, Literature and Medi

Marco Petris, Dipl. Computer Science
Marco is a computer scientist with a strong affinity for the humanities and has been engaged in the creation of CATMA from the very beginning. As a research developer he is involved in all aspects of the design and implementation of tools for the Digital Humanities.


This hands-on workshop introduces humanists to CATMA (Computer Aided Text Markup and Analysis), a tool developed at the University of Hamburg and currently used by over 60 research projects worldwide. CATMA offers a unique combination of three main features found in no other text analysis tool:

  • CATMA supports collaborative annotation and analysis – a text or text corpus can be investigated individually, but also jointly by a group of students or researchers 

  • CATMA supports explorative, non-deterministic practices of text annotation – a discursive, debate-oriented approach to text annotation based on the research practices of hermeneutic disciplines is the underlying conceptual model 

  • CATMA integrates text annotation and text analysis in single web based working environment – which makes it possible to combine the identification of textual phenomena with their investigation in a seamless, iterative fashion 

Aim of workshop

In our tutorial, we will introduce the core annotation and analysis functionalities of CATMA and show how they can be combined with the annotations provided automatically. Participants will have the opportunity of testing the tool in a hands-on session where they can annotate their own texts or annotate collaboratively a text we will provide. We would like to engage participants in a design critique of CATMA and its components and a general discussion about requirements for text analysis tools in their fields of interest, too.

Workshop format

In the workshop participants will be taken in a step-by-step, hands-on approach through the full cycle of a CATMA based text investigation.


The primary users of CATMA are literary scholars, and graduate and undergraduate students of Literary Studies. Nevertheless, this tutorial is likely to be of interest also to:

  • humanities scholars of ALL fields concerned with text analysis (with and without experience in digital text analysis)
  • software developers in the humanities interested in non-deterministic text analysis and automated annotation

Participants need no prior knowledge of digital text annotation and can work with their own laptop computers and their own digital texts.

  • Limited space is available: we can accommodate up to 20 participants.
  • Participants can bring their own laptops, but a computer laboratory will also be available.
  • CATMA runs on Laptop or PC (Windows, Unix or MacOS) with a current web browser (MS Explorer or Edge; Firefox, Chrome, Safari) with a mouse or touchpad.
  • Touchscreen navigation is not supported.

Specific topics that will be covered:

In the workshop participants will be taken in a step-by-step, hands-on approach through the full cycle of a CATMA based text investigation.

  • From text upload to initial text investigations,
  • then to annotating and the specification of annotation categories,
  • from there to combined text queries that consult the source text and its annotations in combination,
  • and finally to the visual output of query results.

Outcomes of the workshop include

Hands-on practical experience with digital annotation and analysis of literary texts through the use of CATMA.