Dear Megan,
Your ideas for investigating the concept of place in a literary context sound fascinating, and yes, people do work with the TEI in the ways you are describing. Here is a project I have been dabbling with for a while as a way to explore a 19th-century English epic poem set in the Middle East, and its many and varied references to mappable and unmappable places, considering how these are located in relation to one another in the structural system of the poem and its many prose footnotes.

I found think there is room and need for new kinds of literary criticism and structural theory to emerge from the kinds of experiments we are doing--to view places not only as represented, but also as they are juxtapositioned and analogized in poems and novels that contribute to building worlds and world views. And yes, TEI gives us a shared markup vocabulary for sharing and communicating these and other concepts. As a community of practice the TEI Consortium offers a great place to find others interested in connecting with your work. I know I'd be excited to see a TEI project investigate the concepts you're contemplating! May I ask what's the novel?

Elisa Beshero-Bondar, PhD 
Director, Center for the Digital Text
Associate Professor of English 
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601 USA
E-mail: [log in to unmask] | Development site:

Typeset by hand on my iPad

On Mar 13, 2017, at 9:41 PM, Megan Cytron <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

First off, apologies if this isn't the correct forum for this question.

I'm just embarking on a doctoral dissertation in which I hope to do a spatial analysis of a rather complex 20th-century novel. I'm a programmer (in another life) and have quite a bit of experience with GIS and XML and was planning to use it to tag the text I'm analyzing so I can generate statistics, charts, maps and other data-driven visualizations of the novel's inner workings.

After (re)discovering TEI (I worked with it way back in the 90s in a completely different way), it seems that I could adapt it to my use case, but I'm a bit uncertain of how best to capture all of the variables I want to look at. I have found many examples of TEI encoded texts, but none that go too deep into this particular brand of literary criticism. For example, these are some of the variables that interest me with a few examples:

--mappable places  (physical locations in the plot, literary overlapping, allusions, trajectories, overlapping with author's biography)
--changes in position (forward/backward/turns, uphill/downhill, stops,  fast/slow, inside/outside)
--narration and voice (1st person, 3rd person, subjective/objective/omniscient, stream of consciousness)
--semantic fields (colors, sickness, science, feelings, physical states, atmospheric conditions)
--rhetorical devices (anaphora, metonymy, paranomasia, juxtaposition)
--intertextuality (allusion, quotation, parody)
--time alterations (analepsis/prolepsis/flash sideways/foreshadowing, anachronism)
--verbs (type, aspect, mode, tense)

I'm fully prepared to invent my own tagging scheme, if it makes sense to do so, but if something already exists and has been implemented with success, I'd much prefer to replicate what I can and contribute another example (or many!).

Is anyone else using TEI in this way? Are there any resources (aside from the obvious TEI Guidelines) and especially examples that would be useful for someone just starting out? Or groups where folks are talking about projects like this and sharing experiences?

In particular, I'm finding the "place" and "placename" tags to be somewhat confusing for what I want to do, because the physical places I want to tag (with lat/long coordinates and some fencing) manifest in the text in a variety of ways (proper names, metonymy, ellipsis, ironic allusions, via demonyms applied to people or objects, etc.).

Any help or general "pointing in the right direction" that you may be able to offer would be greatly appreciated!