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Travelling TexTs 1790-1914: From HERA to DARIAH

Women and women’s authorship is one of the subjects focused upon in Huygens ING. Recently the HERA JRP collaboration project Travelling TexTs 1790-1914 on the Transnational Reception of Women’s Writing at the Fringes of Europe developed into a DARIAH Working Group: Women Writers in History. This took place October 10 2016 in Ghent, at the DARIAH Annual Event, in which participated both WG coordinators, Amelia Sanz (Complutense University Madrid) and Suzan van Dijk (Huygens ING), as well as TTT project assistant Janouk de Groot.

This collaboration is about female authorship in Europe until the early 20th century, considered at an international scale. Researchers from many European countries and North-America are involved; they take as their starting point the reception side of the literary communication between women and their readers (female and male). Adopting this direction allows to understand the role the women played in their own time, as well as the process of (de)canonization they were going through later on.

HERA TTT (2013-2016, 5 countries collaborating) and DARIAH WG represent the most recent phases in a series of projects grouped around a database put online in 2001. Initially named WomenWriters its latest transformations were carried out thanks to CLARIN-NL and HERA: now the tool is known as the NEWW Virtual Research Environment – NEWW being the name of an earlier project in this series: New approaches to European Women’s Writing (NWO 2007-2010, 4 countries participating).
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Impetus for this collaboration about historical women’s authorship and reception came from the Dutch book project directed by Riet Schenkeveld-van der Dussen: Met en zonder Lauwerkrans (With and without Laurels). This impressive anthology (1997) presented writings by 150 Dutch and Flemish women authors active between 1550 and 1850. Its publication led to a KNAW Academy colloquium (1998) entitled Met of zonder Lauwerkrans. This conference (with the proceedings entitled: Writing the History of Women’s Writing, 2001) became the start of the collaboration going on since then. Initially mainly a Dutch project, supported by NWO, it became international thanks to NEWW and the subsequent COST Action IS 0901 Women Writers in History: starting 2009, the number of participating countries was over 25 at the end (2013).

During the HERA TTT project the WomenWriters database (still present online for consultation) was replaced by the NEWW Virtual Research Environment. This NEWW VRE, which was tested during TTT, will now be the tool common to the members of the new DARIAH Working Group. In this group reflection will take place about the ways in which gender needs to be taken into account in order to understand women writers’ fate: why those large numbers of women whose traces we have been finding over the years could be “lost in history” ?

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Within the transnational collaboration, activities are also organized on the national level – such as an exhibition presenting Dutch 19th-century female authors. The exhibition “travelled” from The Hague, via Haarlem and Amsterdam, to Utrecht, and led also to these 19th-century women authors being included in the virtual museum of Dutch literature: Read the article in here (in Dutch).