Digital Literature - Uppsala University
This paper aims to illustrate how markup might be applied
for multiple purposes in research.1 Here, the TEI/XML
encoding scheme2 was used as a research tool when producing
a collective biography in a sociological prosopographical study
on prominent Swedish female pioneers around the turn of the
century 1900.3 In this collective biography the markup is used
for the exploration of biographical information. Although the
markup provided was done for a special reason, namely to
extract specific data in order to apply multivariate analyse
methods, such as correspondence analysis4, it also provides
means for presenting, filtering and indexing the material.
The main purpose of the project Formation for the public
sphere. A Collective Biography of Stockholm Women
1880--1920 is to investigate the social strategies of the first
generations of women entering the public sphere in Sweden.
This period was of crucial significance for women engaged in
philanthropy, reform pedagogy, modern health care, literature
and music. These women’s strategies, investments and careers
differed from their male contemporaries and their contributions
are not easily recognisable. In order to discern and interpret
their contributions to the establishment of the modern welfare
state institutions, a modern educational system and the modern
cultural fields, methods from the French sociological tradition
founded by Pierre Bourdieu have been used.
A central endeavour is to collect information on the women’s
social origin, social intercourse, their networks, educational
trajectories and matrimonial status. Such information is here
called 'assets' or 'capital'. In Bourdieu’s sense certain types of
capital are acknowledged within certain social groups but not
by everyone (Bourdieu, 1992). Each field that is sufficiently autonomous has its own rules for inclusion, exclusion and
rewards, and specific species of capital.5 By analysing the
distribution of certain types of capital among the pioneer women
we try to map the structure, the hierarchies and the polarities
of domains like female culture, education and philanthropy.
Since we favour the collection of data which is sociologically
interpretable data it is important to collect information on
names, dates and places, e.g. where and when and with whom
she lived, where she worked, in order to trace the "meeting
places" and networks. Hence a mandatory core set of data was,
whenever possible, harvested to depict some of the most crucial
• Social origin: father’s and mother’s occupation, education,
positions. Number of brothers and sisters. Woman’s and
parents' place of birth and place of upbringing.
• Educational capital: kind of basic and further education.
• Social capital: influential relatives, matrimonial status,
number of children, housing, member of state commissions,
• Economic capital: wealth, earthly goods and relations to
• Political and religious capital: positions in political/religious
organisations, standpoints in such matters.
• Specific symbolic capital: assets being valued either within
certain fields or domains or within women’s networks.
Of course many of the biographical texts cover much more, but
the main aim is trying to make the collection of these core data
as comprehensive as possible for each woman.
Modelling the Data
There are two kinds of datasets of biographical accounts
called capital descriptions. One of the sets consists of one
hundred rather extensive texts written in running prose text by
the researchers, aimed to be published in for example historical
journals or biographical handbooks. The scholars have explored
archival material such as letters, diaries or estate reports, as
well as printed newspapers, journals or books — and of course
existing biographies and autobiographies. The other set is more
than 1200 condensed texts based on excerpted information.6
The excerpts have been transcribed from two volumes, one
from 1914 and one from 1921 with biographic articles on
prominent Swedish women. Both kinds of texts have been
provided with markup according to the TEI guidelines with the
additional TEI tag set "Names and Dates" to encode proper
names, date periods and precise dates.7
Similar to the much more extensive and ambitious Orlando
project8 we produce texts and we apply descriptive
model-driven and interpretative markup. Unlike the Orlando
project, though, we have not developed a DTD for this project.
In our content model each woman corresponds to a main
division that contains subdivisions and further subdivisions. In
principle each subdivision or sub-subdivision corresponds to
one type of capital such as <div type="soc.orig">. The basic
features marked in a subdivision are:
• a date(range),
• an event or an occurrence,
For each of these elements there is a reciprocal relationship to
a biography and an arbitrary category respectively. This means
that a division is only instantiated when there is a relationship
or an occurrence of a certain kind. Obviously, some instances
are mandatory: we need for example to record a name and a
birth date in order to instantiate a record for a woman. We use
the hierarchies to extract exactly the data we need for the
analyses. Thus, we can extract, the content "Paris" out of the
element placeName when and only when it occurs within
div type="travel". We might thus extract information
on that the woman in question did travel to Paris, and we do
not have to bother with all other Parises that might appear:
books published in Paris, dresses made in Paris, father born in
Paris. Obviously a consistent use of the content model providing
for the accuracy of the markup become very important since
so much depends on it.
Our approach to apply the content model and do the encoding
in running prose is not unproblematic. We have faced, and are
still facing, many rather difficult decisions on the ways to
encode and how to denote the aspects we want to capture.
Should chronology take precedence over events or the other
way around? The consistent use of divisions corresponding to
the content model is important, since it guarantees that the
internal hierarchy of elements is no hindrance for finding the
The corresponding types of data (i.e. the core set) from the two
different datasets have been merged into one dataset for further
processing. We extracted the data needed for analyses into
tables using XSL in order to import the tables into the statistical
software SPSS. SPSS is used for converting string values to
numerical values and for organising, combining, classifying
and aggregating variables. After preparations in SPSS the
datasets were imported into the SPAD software were the
correspondence analyses are done.
Since the material is heterogeneous, it calls for some measures
to guarantee the consistency of data. If we had chosen a
database solution, such as the relational database used by the
project on the prosopography of the Byzantine empire, it would
be a matter of course to opt for a controlled vocabulary, as do Bradley and Short. Thus the categorisation is undertaken prior
to data input into order to ensure the congruency of the recorded
Of course, this kind of interpretation of a source — by assigning
some aspect to fit into categories — is in fact very similar to an
important element of most scholarly work: classification and
categorisation are standard part of scholarly practice.
This is very true also in our project. The major decisions on
the categorisation have been taken prior to the collection of
information and prior to the writing of the biographies.
What might separate this project undertaking from other
similar prosopograhic projects is the aim to maximize
portability. The material is available through an ordinary web
browser, downloadable and reusable with intact markup. Users
should be able to import the material to their own systems or
add additional markup and not be forced to stay on our website
in order to explore the material or perform their own analyses.
Another difference is that the encoded data is used as input to
multivariate quantitative analyses, as will be illustrated at the
presentation. Thanks to the encoding we can provide enhanced
navigation, presentation of different views of the material and
filtering possibilities, which will be demonstrated in the paper
presentation. Altogether we have found that the TEI encoding
scheme has been serving as quite a valuable tool in this kind
of collaborative research practice.
1. Parts of the content in this paper is based on work in progress, a
forthcoming article co-authored with Prof. Donald Broady, titled
"TEI markup as research tool in the prosopographic study
Formation for the public sphere". In our collaborative work Prof.
Broady answer for the sociological and historical content and the
author of this paper for the markup, application and statistical
2. See <http://www.tei-c.org/> and Sperberg-McQueen
3. See <http://www.skeptron.ilu.uu.se/broady/se
c/ffo.htm> . The project is directed by Donald Broady and
funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.
4. l’Analyse des Données, introduced by Jean-Paul Benzecri, a
geometer-statistician, in the 1960. The method is done by
modelling data sets as clouds of points in multidimensional
Euclidian spaces and then interpreting the data in the cloud of
points (Lebart et al.). Cf. Bourdieu (1984) for applications and
5. See Broady for a proposed definition on Bourdieuan
prosopography. See also the study on the French academic field
Homo Academicus Bourdieu 1984) for an example of Bourdieu’s
6. Provided that the copyright issues may be solved, there should in
due time be a freely available digital version. Meanwhile the access
is restricted to the researchers and for teaching purposes.
7. cf. Sperberg-McQueen and Burnard, 2002, pp. 499-516 <http
8. For information on the Orlando project, documenting "the
scholarly history of women's writing in the British Isles." see <h
ttp://www.ualberta.ca/ORLANDO/> . See also e.g.
Grundy et al.
Bourdieu, P. Homo academicus. Paris: Minuit, 1984. English
translation: Homo Academicus. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1988.
Bourdieu, P. Les règles de l’art. Genèse et structure du champ
littéraire. Paris: Seuil, 1992. English translation: The Rules of
Art. Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field. Polity Press,
Bradley, J., and H. Short. "Using Formal Structures to Create
Complex Relationships: The Prosopography of the Byzantine
Empire--A Case Study." Ed. K.S.B. Keats-Rohan. Oxford: Unit
for Prosopographical Research, Linacre Collage, 2002. Preprint
available at <http://pigeon.cch.kcl.ac.uk/docs
Broady, D. "French prosopography. Definition and suggested
readings." Poetics 30 (2002): 381-385.
Grundy, I., P. Clements, S. Brown, T. Butler, R. Cameron, G.
Coulombe, S. Fisher, and J. Wood. "Date ChronStructs:
Dynamic Chronology in the Orlando Project." Literary and
Linguistic Computing 15:3 (2000): 265-89.
Lebart, L., A. Salem, and L. Berry. Exploring Textual Data.
Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1998.
Sperberg-McQueen, C.M., and L. Burnard, eds. Guidelines
for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange (TEI P4). Oxford,
Providence, Charlottenville, Bergen: TEI Consortium, 2002.
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