Announcing the launch of Women Writers: Intertextual Networks

Announcing the launch of Women Writers: Intertextual Networks

We are very excited to announce a new open-access research tool! Women Writers: Intertextual Networks is the result of a three-year project focusing on intertextuality in early women’s writing. This collaborative research initiative examined the citation and quotation practices of the authors represented in Women Writers Online (WWO) to explore and theorize the representation of intertextuality, and to study the ways in which early women writers named, cited, quoted, and remixed texts by other authors. We identified and encoded each of these “intertextual gestures” within the Women Writers Project collection, traced their sources, and created a bibliography representing all of the materials referenced by WWP authors. We also gathered a team of external collaborators who prepared exhibits exploring particular forms and uses of intertextuality in women’s writing, which are being published in Women Writers in Context, our open-access collection of critical exhibits. This project was generously funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The interface offers many ways to explore early women writers’ engagements with other authors and texts. There are four interconnected “explorer” spaces focused on different aspects of the data: the bibliography, the topics and genres referenced, the intertextual gestures, and the authors in Women Writers Online. The Bibliography of works quoted, named, cited, or otherwise referenced by the authors in Women Writers Online currently includes more than 3,000 works. This bibliography shows which writers, texts, and genres appear most frequently in WWO, and allows for filtering by author, publication location, topic and genre, and contributor gender. The Topics & Genres explorer includes referenced texts that range from agriculture to ethics to history to travel writing. With this explorer, you can find works in specific genres and even see how these works are used in Women Writers Online: for example, whether they are named, or quoted, or appear in advertisements or citations. 

An example entry in the “Topics and Genres” explorer.

You can also explore these intertextual gestures directly, to look at quotations, titles, citations, parodies, and other forms of intertextuality in early women’s writing. The Intertextual Gestures explorer supports filtering by the different types of intertextual gestures, the various works that are referenced, the topics and genres of the referenced works, and the WWO source texts and authors. With this viewer, you can read, for example, all of the 225 quotations that appear inside of Hannah Adams’s 1799 History of New England, or see which genres of works tend to appear in advertisements, or look at differences between how comedy and tragedy are quoted or referenced. Finally, the Authors in WWO explorer provides a summary view of the intertextual gestures in each of the 440 texts in the Women Writers Online collection. From this explorer, you can see which texts our authors are referencing, as well as what kinds of references they make. 

An example entry in the “WWO Authors” explorer.

The Intertextual Networks project drew on many different kinds of collaborative effort. The student encoder team at the WWP conducted intensive research to track down the most obscure sources and identify their genres and authorship. Our scholarly collaborators explored specific texts, and the thematics and operations of intertextuality, from a wide range of perspectives that broaden our understanding of what intertextuality does for women authors. These explorations are published as a series of exhibits on the open-access Women Writers in Context collection of essays and scholarly explorations, and as a set of work-in-progress posts on the WWP blog. We also held an open “deep dive” session in which we imagined ways to represent more radical and far-ranging forms of intertextuality, such as reimagined characters, plot clichés, and shared geographies. 

We are especially excited about the teaching possibilities for Intertextual Networks and are starting to work on developing some sample assignments and course materials. If you have ideas about using Intertextual Networks in the classroom, or if you’re interested in joining our teaching partners program, please contact us! Teaching partners receive free access to Women Writers Online and can share course materials at the WWP site. We also plan to continue sharing the research made possible through this project on the Women Writers in Context platform. 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 may become slow at times of high usage. We ask for your patience as you explore all that the site has to offer.

We look forward to seeing how people use Intertextual Networks, and also to the experiments people make with the data sets! Please contact us if you have questions about the interface, or if you’d like to share a research project based on the Intertextual Networks data.

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.

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