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NEWW workshop "Going European?"

The aim of this meeting, held in Utrecht 4 and 5 April 2008, was to discuss our plans for an international collaborative research project in European women’s literary history, to be realized within the online infrastructure, which has been developed over the course of the preceding years. In particular we wanted:

  • to hear the opinions of prominent scholars working in our fields - women’s literary and cultural history, translation, press and book history, gender studies – on our plans and on the possibilities and limitations of the digital tools we are using;
  • to discuss the desirability as well as the feasibility of this large-scale approach, which should include the whole of Europe (including the colonies) and the period before 1900.

One of the important outcomes is this "mission statement", formulated by Agnese Fidecaro:

NEWW is an international network of scholars committed to documenting facts of reception and cultural transfer that throw light on the position of women in the European literary field[s] before 1900. Reception data are collected and made available in the database WomenWriters.

The objectives of the network are twofold:


To promote the collecting of reception data concerning women writers in all European countries (colonies included) and to organise their large-scale stockage in the database WomenWriters.

To find the appropriate funding for the continuation and reinforcement of the database.

To develop research, teaching and publishing projects that organise, employ and interpret the data collected.

To promote the use of the database in research and teaching.

To develop innovative methodological and theoretical approaches to literary research that contribute to an understanding of the ways in which digital technologies modify research practice in the Humanities.


To foster and support collaborative projects that concern the literary history of women in Europe and that help move it into the mainstream of literary teaching and research.

To develop research projects that help understand the dynamics of reading, cultural transfer and networking in which women were involved.

To understand in particular how the study of such dynamics
a) makes us understand the historical literary field[s]
b) redefines existing concepts of literary history and comparative literature such as authorship, genre, the literary, the literary field, periodisation, etc.
c) questions the hierarchies of ‘high’ versus ‘low’ culture, aesthetic versus documentary value, centre versus periphery that shape our view of the field of literature and literary practice.

To reinforce the exchanges and collaborations between the field of women’s literary history and other disciplines that help redefine the practice of literary history, such as the history of the book, sociology of literature, gender studies, cultural studies and postcolonial studies.

To create a pool of experts that will also help other scholars develop teaching and research projects concerning the literary history of women, that will evaluate such projects and counsel public institutions and funding entities in this matter.

SvD, May 2008

  • Conferences > NEWW international conferences > Utrecht 2008

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