Detecting Orientalism in Sherlock Holmes


To examine this text, we used several technologies to conduct our inquiry.

To mark up our text, we used XML and created a mark-up language to identify passages and words of interest to us. To maintain consistency, we wrote a schema lanuage in Relax NG to reinforce our work. Our mark-up was concerned with the use of oriental objects and the ways the East was talked about and categorized in this text, so we developed our mark-up code around that. Using a description element tag (desc) we marked speakers or narration to identify if a person or an object was being spoken about (target) and if that person or object was oriented with the east or the west (host). This was an important distinction to make, as the novel centers around the Agra treasure, an Indian treasure stolen from the empire and brought to the British Empire. The novel features many "oriental" objects, but who possesses or uses them often determines how they are viewed by the characters. We accounted for this feeling attribution by tagging specific words in a (desc) tag to delinated how the part of speech was being used in the sentence. We did this by marking adjectives (adj), verbs (v), and nouns(n) to determine the attitude (att) to be positive (pos) negative (neg) or ambiguous (ambig) and type of emotion attributed to these values (type) by determing if the usage is primitive (prim) erotic (erot) violent (violent) exotic (exotic) or no discernable type (none).

We did this as a way to examine how western characters, namely Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, interacted with the east by considering their language throughout the novel. We wanted to see how objects associated with the east or the Orient were precieved differently depending on who (a westerner or easterner) possessed it.

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