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Database WomenWriters, the Reception of their Works

From here you access the database WomenWriters, which constitutes the center of the research activities. Recently (January 2010) it has been migrated to Huygens Institute The Hague, and at the same time replaced, thanks to hard work by Ben Brandenburg and Ramona Land, with a new version, quicker and more userfriendly than the preceding version.

We suggest you test it as soon as possible, taking into account that as often arrives after migrations and adaptations there are still some minor problems to be solved, side-effects that need to be repaired. For instance: hyperlinks from this website to the database have been a bit disturbed. This will be re-adapted as soon as possible. Please inform us about any other problems you might encounter.

Note that before entering any data in the database you are kindly required to carefully read the Instructions, which are now also presented in this website: Instructions for using WomenWriters.

This database WomenWriters has been created to allow, for pre-1900 Europe, the study of women’s writing in their international reception context: the authors’ places, activities and recognition. Such a study was not possible given the evident lack of large-scale information about women's writing being received by contemporaries. Large scale and transcending of boundaries is considered a necessity because of women's frequent role as translators, and also because of women's reputations abroad not always being recognized in the home country.

Large scale of course implies: necessity of digital tools, "longue durée" and a large amount of patience and perseverance.... For the moment it is not yet possible to find here information about either the Spanish reception of 19th-century Russian women writers, or the Europe-wide influence of 17th-century French author Madame Deshoulières (to take some examples). Still this is what should become possible on the long run - and from these bilateral contacts the existence of larger "networks" is to be traced. In this "virtual collaboratory", data are to be stocked which will allow to study this kind of questions. In order to integrate information about men's or women's professional or private reading of works by female authors of different countries, collaboration of colleagues (researchers as well as students) is of course needed. It will indeed take place in the context of the COST Action "Women Writers in History" (November 2009 - October 2013).

For the moment the database contains mainly information on women authors' reception in the Netherlands. Indeed, after a starting period (2001-2004), where the focus had been on French 18th-century authors and on 19th-century George Sand with their reception in France and in the Netherlands, a digitizing project was financed by NWO (the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). From 2004 up to 2007, focus has been on the Dutch reception of women's work, written and published anywhere in Europe or its colonies, before 1900. A certain number of (types of) Dutch sources had been previously selected: it is of course impossible to be "complete", and selection was in part for practical reasons. From now on research about Dutch reading of women's work will go on, and will certainly also result in further perusing of sources left aside up to now. So, what is offered here, is a starting point for research. A clear example of the possibilities is the one concerning research into "female networks". Features such as these are to be further developed and created in the context of the current COST Action.

Note that initially the sources and relevant texts or text fragments were not digitized themselves: references to these texts/data are provided in the records, as well as - more and more now - hyperlinks in the case of source material that has been and is being digitized by others. So this database constitutes in fact a way of integrating data. Note, however, that we are much depending on others, who can decide to change systems and not always use permanent hyperlinks.

The 13,000 references to Dutch sources also constitute invitations to others, in particular non-Dutch colleagues or students, who might take them as examples for treatment of women's reception elsewhere. Colleagues are invited to take contact in order to discuss the possibility of collaboration.

Database-visitors are allowed to use the information provided (which is in many cases incomplete), and they are suggested to contribute themselves their own data. When using our information, please take into account normal copyright regulations and customs.

Users should be aware that the database is a working space, not a publication site. As it is, for this reason, a work in progress, we would be very grateful to them for pointing out any errors or gaps that they might find. One practical point: informations contained in the database WomenWriters have been derived from contemporary sources, which may contain errors. You will always have to check and to get back to the sources themselves! It will also be important to see the complete records. When arriving for the first time in the database WomenWriters, your status is: "not logged on". This means that you have only partial view. For participation in the project, implying complete view of the records, take contact: Suzan van Dijk.

SvD, May 2010

  • Database WomenWriters

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