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Women Writers: Intertextual Networks

About Intertextual Networks

History and Progress

Intertextual Networks began as 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. The Women Writers Project (WWP) began work on this collaborative research initiative in fall 2016, examining the citation and quotation practices of the authors represented in Women Writers Online (WWO) to explore and theorize the representation of intertextuality. WWO contains approximately 440 texts written by or attributed to women, published between 1526 and 1850. The collection primarily comprises works in print and in English.

We assembled a collaborative research team that included faculty, graduate students, and members of the WWP staff, representing a broad set of perspectives and expertise. Each member of the collaborative group pursued a research project engaging with materials from WWO, and this research is being published in Women Writers in Context, the WWP’s open-access publication series.

In addition, the WWP undertook the ambitious project of identifying and encoding intertextual references within the WWO collection, and developing a full bibliography of works and authors that are somehow represented in these texts. By the end of the grant period, we had identified 11,787 quotations, 5,692 titles, 4,825 Biblical references, and 1,968 other bibliographic references, as well as 233 instances of more complex “intertextual gestures” in the files for our pilot commonplace book, the manuscript Almanacks of Mary Moody Emerson. We also added encoding that identifies authors (in cases where an author is referenced apart from any specific text), resulting in 2,129 encoded references to authors who are explicitly named, as well as 504 less explicit references (for instance, “the blind poet” as a reference to Milton) to the most frequently-cited writers in the collection. The bibliography of works referenced includes 3,431 book-level work entries, 942 chapter-level work entries (in other words, works that are parts of larger works, such as individual essays or poems), and 126 simple bibliographic entries (e.g. books of the bible). This bibliography also identifies the genre of each work (we identified 76 different genres) and the gender of the author, where known. As the WWP adds new texts to WWO, we will include this enhanced encoding so the intertextual network will continue to grow.

This exploratory interface builds on that body of information, and enables readers to examine the networks of connections between women authors and the range of works, topics, and genres they reference. In our next steps for the project, we will also be making the bibliography and intertextual data sets publicly available for research, and enhancing Women Writers Online interface so that readers can explore connections between texts and get a fuller understanding of how women used their reading in their writing.


WWP Team

  • Param Ajmera
  • Matt Bowser
  • Ash Clark
  • Sarah Connell
  • Anna Kroon
  • Hannah Lee
  • Adam Mazel
  • Jake Murel
  • Molly Nebiolo
  • Kenneth Oravetz
  • Lara Rose
  • Katie Woods