The Orlando Project explores and harnesses the power of digital tools and methods to advance feminist literary scholarship.
The project is collaborative and multidisciplinary: the venture at its core brings together literary scholars, digital humanists based in varied disciplines, and computing scientists. Orlando Project research is cross-cultural, and student team members – of whom the project has trained upwards of 120, and rising – learn about editorial and archival research, document analysis, and markup by working with mentors and peers.
The textbase we have produced, Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present, is an unprecedented work of literary scholarship. Published by Cambridge University Press and updated twice a year with new and revised material, its design encourages researchers and readers to explore and remix it in creative ways.
This is literary history with a difference. Not a book, though in length the equivalent of about 80 scholarly books, and not a digital edition of an existing text, it is a richly searchable textbase of born-digital, original writing. It is full of interpretive information on women, literature, and culture, with about 8 million words of text in documents on the lives and writing of over 1400 authors, together with a great deal of contextual historical material on relevant subjects, such as education, politics, science, the law, and economics.
Orlando is highly dynamic and responsive to the individual research interests of its users. The unique structure and searchability of Orlando allows users to examine its information in a wide range of configurations. The textbase is open to the serendipities of productive browsing, but is also designed for searchers with a specific agenda —that is, for answering precise, complex questions.
The Orlando Project’s unique contribution to feminist digital humanities has been to encode relationality and intersectionality in women’s writing and its conditions of possibility. Going forward in a phase of activity we call Orlando 2.0, we are widening our focus to include linked data and collaborative systems, which we see as having great potential for more aggregation, for different kinds of exploration, for bringing data from different projects into conversation with each other. We undertake this phase of activity as a means of building on Orlando’s long-term feminist objectives and values.