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Bio-Bibliographic Compilations

Crossing Boundaries: French and Francophone Women in Literature and Science, Culture and the Arts

Women in French Conference, ASU, February 24-25, 2012

COST-WWIH panel organized by Hilde Hoogenboom:

Bio-Bibliographic Compilations of Women in France Before and After Fortunée Briquet


Vicki Mistacco,

  • Slipping into the Breach: Women Writers, Compilations and Women’s Literary History in the Early Nineteenth Century.

Caterina Nosdeo,

Suzan van Dijk,

  • Présenter des écrivaines en les groupant par nation.

The work of women circulated through many spaces within the international community of letters: salons, letters, newsletters, poetry, plays, memoirs, novels. Compilations of women were another such space. Their contents offer rich narratives of the transnational circulation of women, and of textual production, reception, and classification. In the centuries after Boccaccio’s Famous Women (1361-75), biographical compilations about women spread across Europe, first as manuscripts, then as books, and now as databases, to become a varied national and transnational genre. In this highly coherent, yet dynamic genre, the category of women writers as a sub-genre arose in the sixteenth century in Italy, and that of national women writers appeared a century later in France and England. In the eighteenth century, such compilations join the international European competition for learned women as a sign of national enlightenment.

In 1804, Fortunée Briquet published an important comprehensive compilation of over 500 women who contributed to French civilization through their published and unpublished writings in literature, politics, and the sciences. More recently, in Tender Geographies (1991), Joan DeJean lists seventeenth- through nineteenth-century French compilations of women writers, while in The Other Enlightenment (2001), Carla Hesse provides a bibliography of over 300 women who published in various fields during the French Revolution, from 1789 to 1800. These kinds of sources are now part of a Dutch database project, WomenWriters.nl, on the reception of women writers before 1900 throughout Europe.

SvD, February 2012

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