Orlando: Women's Writing

How Orlando Works

What is markup for?

Orlando materials are carefully structured, context-sensitive, deeply tagged interpretations of writers' lives and writing careers. Exploring their markup as well as their content offers myriad new ways to probe women's literary history. (The tags embedded in the text can be revealed on most screens by using the Show Markup button.)


Tags such as the <P> or paragraph tag allow the computer to format the text.
Different attributes on <TITLE> tags allow different kinds of titles to be formatted differently, for instance <TITLE TITLETYPE="MONOGRAPHIC">Deerbrook</TITLE> (Deerbrook) or <TITLE TITLETYPE="ANALYTIC">Female Education</TITLE> ("Female Education").


Tags for names, organizations, places, and titles allow you to jump from one mention of a particular person, book, etc. to other mentions of it. Clicking on the grey-blue highlighted text takes you to a Links screen.

Providing additional information

Some information is conveyed more precisely by the tagging than by the prose content alone.
The following tag tells us that the period in question is precisely from November 1824 until December 1825:
<DATERANGE FROM="1824-11-" TO="1825-12-" EXACT="BOTH">Late 1824-1825</DATERANGE>
For tags having to do with identity categories, such as those within Cultural Formation, the markup can help to clarify how a particular term is being used. In this example, the tagging indicates that the subject defined herself in these terms:
Some tags have multiple purposes. A tag such as
<TITLE TITLETYPE="MONOGRAPHIC">A Vindication of the Rights of Woman</TITLE>
  • serves a formatting purpose, in telling the computer to italicize the title of the book
  • creates a hyperlink between this and other mentions of the title
  • provides a clear indication that this is a monograph title and not, for instance, a serial title
  • permits intelligent searching, letting us search for "woman" in book titles alone

Intelligent searching

The text markup allows for an entirely different kind of searching, as well as more precise searching, than is usual.
You can use the tagging to search for common themes and issues, regardless of the language being used to discuss them. You need not search on words at all, but can pull up the contents of particular combinations of tags across the whole set of materials. For instance, you can investigate the various reasons women had for writing and publishing by searching using the <MOTIVES> tag, or you can search on the <ATTIDUTES> tag to explore the often mixed feelings women entertained about the role of woman writer.
If a simple word search provides unsatisfactory results because the word is common, searching the tagging can yield better results. Using the <EDUCATION> tag, for example, and looking for instances of "Oxford University", one can pull together writers whose education involved Oxford in one way or another.
Searching on tags is daunting at first, but each tag and its use is explained in About the Tags.

Providing context

The markup allows the system to indicate context in helpful ways. The Hyperlinks screens thus organize the hyperlinks to give you a sense of the discussion in which a name, place, or organization appears. The appearance of a place within the context of <OCCUPATION> is a strong indication that someone worked there, while mention of it within <SETTINGPLACE> pulls up fictional texts set there.
We must stress that these are discursive contexts rather than assertions about content. That is, occurrence of a particular name in the context of <INTIMATERELATIONSHIPS> does not necessarily signify that this was the person involved with the subject in such a relationship, although it usually will. The involvement might be that of a scholarly commentator.

A final general note on tagging

Many things are not just one thing, which is to say that phenomena can easily belong to multiple contexts. If a writer has inherited money on the death of a family member, a choice will have been made to contextualize that event in one or more of a range of possible tags including Family, Wealth, or Occupation (if it enabled her to quit her job and focus on writing), depending on the judgement of the document's author. In other words, the tagging cannot be exhaustive, but we have used it to highlight the most significant aspects of writers' lives and careers.
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