Final Conference of COST Action IS0901, "Women Writers in History"

Article excerpt

Female Authorship in Europe: Networks and Obstacles

Huygens ING, The Hague, 19-21 June, 2013

The final conference of the COST Action IS0901 "Women Writers in History" took place from 19-21 June 2013 at the Huygens ING (grant holder of the Action) in The Hague in the Netherlands. Approximately fifty participants outlined the new knowledge that had been discovered about the role of women writers in Europe up to the beginning of the 20th century, demonstrated how the conception and development of new tools enabled researchers to analyze new data in new sources, and presented the new collaborations that had been created thanks to this COST Action. The detailed program and the corresponding abstracts upon which this report is based can be found on http://www. womenwriters.nl/index.php/European_F emale_Authorship :_Networks_and_Obstacles.

The conference was divided into seven sessions. After a welcoming address by the director of Huygens ING Lex Heerma van Voss and by the chair of the Action Suzan van Dijk, Session I focused on the topic of "dominating" languages and their "female" influence in Europe. The first panel of this session presented research outcomes on the presence of Anglophone women authors in Europe. This group of researchers, consisting of Astrid Kulsdom, Lucyna Marzec, Marie Nedregotten Sorbo, and Tanja Badalic, looked at the reception of fifty six British and Irish women authors in Europe, especially in minor languages such as Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, and at their presence in the literary culture of Slovenia. The panel further compared the reception of the prolific woman writer Mary Elizabeth Braddon with the reception of the less prolific yet canonized Charlotte Brontë.

The second panel, consisting of Katja Mihurko-Poniz, Ursula Stohler, and Zsuzsanna Varga, had German women's writing in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries as a topic, focusing in particular on the case of Eugénie Marlitt in smaller language communities, such as the Czech lands, Hungary, and Slovenia. These researchers discussed differences and similarities in reception patterns of Marlitt's works in these three language communities and emphasized the transcultural popularity of Marlitt during that period. The group used Franco Moretti's theories on the importance of a quantitative approach to literary history as a theoretical framework and then referred to their research results, in which they pointed out the transnational nature of the genre of popular fiction by women in Europe, and in particular in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, during that period. They referred to similarities of reception patterns of the works by other women authors of popular fiction and theatre plays in that region. Among them are the Swedish Emilie Flygare Carlén and Marie Sophie Schwartz, the English Mary Braddon, the German Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer, Luise Mühlbach, Nathaly von Eschstrutt, and E. Marlitt, and the French George Sand. They also pointed out that these research outcomes presented the point of departure for a new research project, for which several funding possibilities were being considered.

The third panel looked at French as a "female" language for queens and other women writers in the 18th and 19th century. The group of researchers consisting of Jelena Bakic, Isabel Lousada, Ramona Mihaila, Mchaela Mudure, Efstratia Oktapoda, and Suzan van Dijk suggested that there existed many women authors who chose to write in French even though this was not their mother tongue. This was particularly the case of female authors who belonged to higher social classes. This group of researchers further looked at two examples of women authors who used French for their writing even though they lived far away from France, Carmen Sylva (Queen Elisabeth of Romania), and Ida Verona, who lived in Romania and Montenegro.

Session II was entitled "Circulation of Women and their Writings." The fourth panel of the conference, the group of researchers Vanda Anastacio, Nieves Baranda, and Marie-Louise Coolahan, looked at manuscript circulation of women's texts in the early modern period, in particular at the writings by English, Portuguese, and Spanish women. …