SGML: The Orlando Project

SGML: The Orlando Project

The Orlando Project
An Integrated History of Women's Writing in the British Isles

The primary objective of the Orlando Project is to produce, in both printed
and electronic form, the first scholarly history of women's writing in the
British Isles.  The integration of the project's key disciplines -- literary
history and humanities computing -- will produce a highly sophisticated
research tool for the study of women's writing in the multiple traditions of
England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Critical Framework (Integrations)
The project is "integrated" in several senses: with the histories of
"mainstream" writing; with contemporary social, institutional, and
intellectual histories; with current developments in historiography and
critical theory; and with the shaping effects of humanities computing on
scholarly methods and research.

The extraordinary accumulation of new knowledge in the field of women's
writing, the outcome of extensive international archival research over the
past two or three decades, has led to a re-visioning of the past by feminist
scholars.  In spite of this considerable activity, no integrated history of
women's writing yet exists. The Orlando Project will draw both on its own
new archival research and on the existing historical scholarship to create
an original, scholarly account of women's writing grounded in the
specificity of texts and the material conditions of the past.

After a long flight from history, literary studies has returned to it with
renewed vigour.  But the sense of what constitutes literary history and how
it should be practised has been reshaped and feminist inquiry has been
crucial to this process. The project's revisioning of the past will seek for
greater inclusiveness (generic, canonical) while simultaneously
foregrounding our critical assumptions concerning periodization and
canonization.  Our object is neither documentation of a single evolutionary
trajectory nor application of a single interpretive paradigm.  We will as
far as possible make visible not only connections but also gaps,
discontinuities, and unsolved mysteries.

Its focus on gender takes this literary history beyond a restricted emphasis
on writing in isolation from other social practices to a consideration of
the textual as imbricated with every other aspect of culture. Our commitment
to literary history involves us in dialogue with non-literary history and
the interdisciplinary scope and method of our inquiry will lead us to draw
on such fields as cultural studies, social history, and histories of
medicine, law, and other specialized discourses.

The last decade has witnessed the emergence of two key developments in the
field of humanities computing: SGML (Standard Generalized Mark-up Language)
and the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). Using a combination of
project-specific SGML with the TEI, we plan to extend the current
capabilities of textual markup to include both subject tagging and the
mapping of critical and argumentative movements within our textbase.  Doing
so will maximize the search, retrieval and display capabilities of our
computing project.

The history of women's writing in printed form will consist of five volumes:
a comprehensive, sophisticated, integrated chronology of women's writing in
the British Isles, and four period volumes of literary history dealing with
British women's writing from the  beginnings to the present (the early
period to 1830, the nineteenth century to 1890, the  modern period to 1945,
and contemporary writing from 1939). An electronic product, based on a
custom designed coding system which is consistent with international
standards for text encoding (SGML), will permit rapid, complex interrogation
of the accumulated primary and secondary information produced by the
history. The project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada and by the Universities of Alberta and Guelph.
Its support at the University of Alberta comes from the vice Presidents
(Research) and (Academic), the Library, and the Department of English. The
project is housed in the Research Institute for Women's Writing, in the
Department of English at the University of Alberta. 

Further Information:

The Orlando Project
3-5 Humanities Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB
T6G 2E5

e-mail address:

Sue Fisher
Project Librarian
An Integrated History of Women's Writing in the British Isles
3-5 Humanities Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB
T6G 2E5
Tel: (403) 492-7816
FAX: (403) 492-8142

[From: Sue.Fisher@UAlberta.CA Wed, 27 Mar 1996 11:41:29 -0700]