github icon link

The agency of women in Sherlock Holmes


This project set out to analyze a portion of the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with the intent of discovering the relative agency of side characters within the stories.

To that end, our main research questions were as follows:

  1. What is the ratio of the number of words spoken by female characters to the number spoken by male characters (including Holmes and Watson, who naturally appear and speak in every story?
  2. What is the ratio of actions taken between the genders, where an action is defined as any effort intentionally undertaken by a character excluding speech or other vocalizations. Naturally, Holmes and Watson would be excluded from data processing for this question as well.

About the Developers

We developed this project in Fall 2022 for the Computational Methods in the Digital Humanities course at the University of Pittsburgh.

The project contributors consist of
Caroline McDonough:

is a senior majoring in Nonfiction English Writing. She took this course hoping to further explore the uses and nuances of coding, and to expand her understanding of the software tools at her disposal.

Sean Shmulevich:

is a senior majoring in Computer Science. He took this class to apply his knowledge of computer science to the humanities and work an an interdisciplinary context. He was surprised how of how much best practices for software development were taught and enforced thoughout this class.

Alyssa Underwood:

is a freshman majoring in Communications. She took this course to fulfill the quantitative reasoning general education requirement, and has learned a lot more than she expected to along the way.

Rory Walsh:

is a sophomore majoring in digital narrative and interactive design, he took this class to explore the intersection of the humanities and technology. He has never broken a bone, and is grateful for the lessons he has learned in collective coordination through this project

Special thanks

to our mentor Camryn Dorney and our professor David Birnbaum for their guidance throughout the course of our project.