In its early phase the Orlando team created a new SGML application for encoding the text it was to produce. To produce the Orlando history, it created four main document type definitions (DTDs) or tagsets (currently in process of conversion to RelaxNG schemas). These structure our information and embody our literary theory. They are the key connection between the literary and the computing in Orlando. Their distinctive feature is their relative emphasis on “semantic” or “content” tags. Produced in extensive analysis involving the literary and computing members of the Orlando Project team, the tagsets are the key connections between the literary and the computing sides of Orlando.

The distinctive feature of the Orlando tagsets is their relative emphasis on “content” tags associated with the knowledge domain of literary history, and the high proportion of these to the “formal” tags associated with sections, paragraphs, and the like. While the formal tags in Orlando are based on the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines, the content tags were devised by the Orlando Project. In total, there are 205 tags, 114 attributes, and 635 attribute values in the Orlando DTDs. Those unique to Orlando are concentrated in the Life and Writing tagsets.

All of our DTDs include an identical range of structural tags (to handle, for instance, short prose, scholarly notes, or embedded chronological items), and an identical set of “core” tags (for material such as names, titles, dates, places, and organization names which are crucial for hyperlinking and other processing). The heart of the project lies in the two most complex DTDs, those paired for encoding discussions of writers’ lives and their texts and literary careers.

Life DTD
The Life DTD has a fairly regulatory, hierarchical structure. It structures documents using sixteen major semantic categories of information marked by tags.

Life tags

Many of these tags have unique subtags, such as award and instructor (under education), or geographical heritage and religious denomination (under cultural formation), and/or attributes, such as institution level (on school), or relation to (on location).

Writing DTD
The Writing DTD has a flatter, more flexible structure. It structures documents using just three major semantic categories of information marked by tags – Production, Textual Features, Reception. These tags occur repeatedly within a single document, encoding discussions of particular texts or groups of texts.

The Writing DTD also defines additional interpretive tags nested within tags in the three major semantic categories.

Production tags

Textual features tags

Reception tags

The Writing DTD makes extensive use of inclusions to allow all the tags from any of the three major semantic categories to be used within another one. And, like the semantic tags in the Life DTD, many of the Writing tags have unique attributes (such as, on the intertextuality tag, intertext type or gender of author).

An Example: Intertextuality
The intertextuality tag is used to encode discussions of gestures in a text towards other texts. It has two optional attributes: Intertext Type and Gender of Author.

The Gender of Author attribute identifies the the gender of the author who wrote the intertext.

The Intertext Type attribute specifies different kinds of intertextual relationships: Allusion Acknowledged (where the textual debt is explicitly flagged), Allusion Unacknowledged (where textual parallel is left unsignalled), Quotation (words or phrases directly repeated, generally in a prominent position, like title or title-page), Misquotation (deliberate or accidental alteration of words quoted), Parody (a close formal copy, designed to make fun), Satire (a broader send-up of another text), Imitation (adopting characteristics of earlier text as pattern), Adaptation-update (re-telling or ingenious recasting), Prequel (a text designed to come before its related text), Continuation (a sequel), and Answer (a riposte).

Here are some examples of the Intertextuality tag drawn from the Orlando textbase. (Not all of the tagging has been revealed here: all names and titles are also tagged.)

<TINTERTEXTUALITY INTERTEXTTYPE = “ALLUSIONUNACKNOWLEDGED” GENDEROFAUTHOR = “FEMALE”>Critics have not infrequently likened Margaret Oliphant’s Phoebe Junior to Jane Austen’s Emma.</TINTERTEXTUALITY>

<TINTERTEXTUALITY INTERTEXTTYPE = “ADAPTATION-UPDATE” GENDEROFAUTHOR = “MALE”>The title poem imitates the underworld journey of Virgil’s epic hero, but in a female version. Sappho is [Eavan] Boland’s guide on this journey, as Virgil was Dante’s.</TINTERTEXTUALITY>

<TINTERTEXTUALITY INTERTEXTTYPE = “QUOTATION” GENDEROFAUTHOR = “FEMALE”>Critic Rees-Jones sees in the title of Carol Ann Duffy’s Fifth Last Song: twenty-one love poems a reference to Adrienne Rich’s “Twenty-One Love Poems” in A Dream of a Common Language, 1978.</TINTERTEXTUALITY>

<TINTERTEXTUALITY INTERTEXTTYPE = “ANSWER” GENDEROFAUTHOR = “MALE”>She was replying to a number of authoritative male texts about the nature of women: by Burke, Rousseau, and behind them Milton.</TINTERTEXTUALITY>

<TINTERTEXTUALITY INTERTEXTTYPE = “ANSWER”>Henrietta Battier directed her work against the author of a recent publication entitled The Orange, whom she calls Dr Bobadil.</TINTERTEXTUALITY>

<TINTERTEXTUALITY INTERTEXTTYPE = “ALLUSIONACKNOWLEDGED”>Dorothea Primrose Campbell was one of those claiming serious status for the novel by literary allusion.</TINTERTEXTUALITY>

<TINTERTEXTUALITY INTERTEXTTYPE = “PARODY” GENDEROFAUTHOR = “MALE”>Eliza Fenwick’s character Lord Filmar, a rake who models himself on Richardson’s Lovelace, is too frivolous to pose any real threat.</TINTERTEXTUALITY>

<TINTERTEXTUALITY INTERTEXTTYPE = “IMITATION” GENDEROFAUTHOR = “FEMALE”>Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s romance is modelled on Aphra Behn’s Voyage to the Isle of Love, whose emblematic geography comes in turn from Scudéry.</TINTERTEXTUALITY>

Reviews of Orlando

Miranda Hickman in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature

Orlando features not only British women writers but rather a wide range of male and female writers in some way related to literature associated with the British Isles. As a modernist, I welcomed entries on American writers H. D., Djuna Barnes, and Marianne Moore (Hickman 181).

It is inspiring to see such richly collaborative work in action in the humanities, enabled and encouraged by the Orlando framework; this reads as a real example of what Vera John Steiner calls the ‘co construction of knowledge.’ . . . I soon realized that the ground breaking (I should say pathfinding) nature of the project’s set up lay in how its structure allows one to navigate such pages [individual entries] in aggregate. . . . What Orlando allows you to do, in a spirit nicely faithful to the agility implied by Woolf’s Orlando, is to choose your own adventure. . . . When one departs from the usual technique of shuttling immediately to an individual writer’s entry, one appreciates more fully the mercurial quality of the information, uniquely susceptible of rearrangement thanks to the intricate electronic encoding system. This system of electronic tagging both indicates and enables theoretical savvy (Hickman 182).

The rich corpus of information the Orlando team has managed to build in the project’s brief lifespan is nothing short of astonishing. In both theoretical and practical terms, this exciting project makes superb use of the implications of new technologies, and like Woolf’s Orlando, it points to the future. Like Woolf’s oak tree, may it flourish and ramify (Hickman 184).

Miranda Hickman. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 27:1 (Spring 2008), 180-86. (Available from Project MUSE).
1 2 3 4 5
  • Contact Us

    3-5 Humanities Centre,

    Department of English and Film Studies

    University of Alberta

    Edmonton, AB, Canada

    T6G 2E5