We are delighted to announce the launch of our new Intertextual Networks series on the open-access Women Writers in Context platform! Intertextual Networks is a three-year research project funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, focusing on intertextuality in early women’s writing. This collaborative research initiative examines the citation and quotation practices of the authors represented in Women Writers Online (WWO) to explore and theorize the representation of intertextuality.
As part of this project, we have assembled a collaborative research team that includes faculty, graduate students, and members of the WWP staff. Our collaborators have been pursuing independent research projects, working with the materials in WWO to examine a wide range of topics—including the literary legacy of Elizabeth I, women’s engagements with particularly influential figures such as Shakespeare and Molière, the circulation and adaptation of stock figures in drama, and tightly-clustered textual exchanges such the Elizabethan pamphlet wars—using techniques that include text encoding, machine learning, network analysis, and mapping.
The first five exhibits in this series highlight the exciting work being done by our collaborators and demonstrate the deep textual connections evident in the WWO collection:
“‘To the Most Distant Parts’: Writing the World in the WWO Corpus” by Samuel Diener presents a two-stage, mixed-method study of the Women Writers Online corpus to examine how its authors—primarily focusing on British women writers—engage with place and location. The first stage discusses the methodologies used to identify and isolate the various locations within the corpus as a whole. The second stage examines Eliza Haywood’s eighteenth-century periodical, The Female Spectator, to present an example of how British women understood their role in Britain’s imperialistic endeavors.
“Women in Charge and Men in Skirts: William Shakespeare, Hannah Cowley, and Performances of Gender” by Tabitha Kenlon discusses the ways that Hannah Cowley’s plays A Bold Stroke for a Husband and Who’s the Dupe? reinterpret Shakespearean tropes to comment on gender issues, norms, and power dynamics, and therefore can be fruitfully read in juxtaposition with the works of the Bard.
“Allusions in the Age of the Digital: Four Ways of Looking at a Corpus” by Amanda Henrichs considers intertextuality in a corpus consisting of the literary works of the Sidney family: Mary Sidney Herbert (Lady Pembroke), Mary Sidney (Lady Wroth), Robert Sidney, and Philip Sidney. In particular, it examines an apparent intertextual gap between Wroth and Pembroke, who are known to have had a close and friendly relationship. By examining this gap through close and distant reading methods, this exhibit explores the larger question of how a shift in methods alters our understanding of historical intertextuality.
“Female Platonics in Pix’s The Innocent Mistress (1697) and Centlivre’s The Platonic Lady (1707)” by Heather Ladd discusses how Mary Pix’s The Innocent Mistress reimagined the stock character of the platonic lady, turning it away from a misogynistic characterization to one of moral strength. The exhibit then examines the ways that Susanna Centlivre’s The Platonic Lady built upon Pix’s work, showing how platonic love can be figured as a legitimate response to the restrictive gender roles of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England.
“Rhetorical Intertextualities of M. R.’s The Mothers Counsell, or Live Within Compasse, 1630” by Elizabeth Ann Mackay takes up an under-studied mother’s advice book, M. R.’s The Mothers Counsell. This exhibit shows that the Mothers Counsell provides an excellent example of the intertextual dynamics at play in many mother’s books as a part of commonplacing culture, since such forms gave women a voice to speak to both their daughters and the world at large.
We’ll continue adding new entries to this series over the next year, so watch this space! You can read more about the other projects our collaborators are doing, as well as the WWP’s research into representing early women’s intertextual gestures through TEI markup, on our blog. If you are interested in submitting an exhibit to Women Writers in Context, please see our guidelines for authors and our statement on peer review.
Intertextual Networks has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.