Internet Resources for Teaching Early Modern English Women Writers
Robert C. Evans 
| Two of the most important developments of the last
twenty years in the study of English Renaissance literature have been the
proliferation of interest in women writers and the explosion of computing
technologies, especially the Internet. Both developments have radically
transformed the scholarly landscape in entirely positive ways, and it is
one of the great and fortunate accidents of history that these twin developments
have roughly coincided. The Internet has made it possible for scholars and
students to work and communicate with an ease and flexibility earlier generations
could only have imagined, and we are, of course, now simply at the beginning
of this cultural transformation. Early modern women authors, often marginalized
in their own times and often ignored by later centuries, are among the prime
beneficiaries of the growth of the World Wide Web, and so are the scholars,
teachers, and students who find the work of these women so fascinating.
Georgianna Ziegler’s recent article entitled ‘Women Writers Online: An Evaluation and Annotated Bibliography of Web Resources’ provides an exceptionally helpful overview of some of the theoretical and practical issues raised by the Internet revolution, and it also offers an extremely useful listing of websites likely to be most useful to scholars interested in early modern women. (2) The purpose of the present article is to supplement Ziegler’s valuable work by providing a listing of sites that are especially focused on matters of teaching women writers. More and more well-edited texts of the works of Renaissance women are now available for classroom use, whether on the Internet or in traditional paper copies, and thus women writers are increasingly likely to be included in courses devoted to the literature of the early modern period. The chief goal of the present piece is to provide both students and teachers with a handy (but hardly complete) guide to some particularly helpful sites for use in actual classes. (3)
I shall begin with a few words about the sites included here. First, I have focused mainly on sites dealing with English women from roughly 1500 to 1700 - partly because Ziegler’s piece already deals nicely with non-English writers and partly because a broader focus would have made this article even longer than it already is. I have tried, as much as possible, not to duplicate coverage of the sites Ziegler has already described so well, although inevitably I have mentioned a few sites also cited in her essay. I have given less emphasis here to individual writers than to broadly comprehensive sites, partly because sites focused on particular authors are now especially easy to find by using excellent search engines, such as http://www.google.com. My main interest has been in sites dealing with English women writers rather than with women artists of other kinds, although inevitably the sites I have listed do include links to many other useful sources of broader information. In fact, I have especially tried to list sites rich in links, since one of the great pleasures and advantages of the Internet is that is allows for a kind of broad-based browsing hardly imaginable just a few decades ago.
For the most part I have allowed the designers of the sites to speak for themselves by quoting their own descriptions of what they have tried to do. In some cases I have added brief evaluative comments, especially when a site has struck me as particularly exciting or useful. The sites are listed in simple alphabetical order; I have not tried to categorize them, since hard-and-fast categories would be difficult to construct and might merely seem a superfluous imposition. Nevertheless, readers will notice that some sites are very specifically connected with particular courses; that some offer advice more broadly useful to scholars and researchers; and that some offer helpful and detailed suggestions about matters of web design and digital encoding.
A final expression of hope: almost by definition the Internet, and everything connected with it, is shifting and ephemeral. By the time this piece is electronically ‘published’ , many of the sites described in it will have changed in numerous ways, and some of them may even have disappeared. It would therefore be extremely helpful if the site designers themselves, or perhaps some organization devoted to the study of early modern women, could regularly preserve the different stages of development of each site, perhaps eventually making such information eventually available of some archival mega-site. We are living through the crucial stages of development of not only the Internet but of an essentially new scholarly field, and it would be a shame if the stages of this process were not preserved in some way for future scholars to study.
This is an extremely comprehensive databank of articles and other scholarly materials dealing with women. Although a German-language site, the databank includes (and can be searched for) English writers and English-language materials.
-- As One Phoenix: Four Seventeenth-Century Women Poets
This site contains bibliographies, biographies, and poems for Margaret Cavendish, Aemelia Lanyer, Katherine Philips, and Lady Mary Wroth. It also offers a Bibliography of Anthologies and a list of Links to Related Sites.
-- Association for Computing Machinery
‘Founded in 1947, ACM is the world’s first educational and scientific computing society. Today, our members — over 80,000 computing professionals and students world-wide — and the public turn to ACM for authoritative publications, pioneering conferences, and visionary leadership for the new millennium’ . An article by Benjamin Fan provides detailed discussion, from the point of view of computer programmers, of the Women Writers Project at Brown University. Fan discusses the nature and purpose of textual encoding, particularly SGML, HTML, XML, and the Text Encoding Initiative, and provides examples of how to use codes to prepare texts for on-line publication.
-- Bibliography, English 597, Women Writers
Very thorough bibliography of secondary sources on a wide variety of women writers. Includes Library of Congress call numbers for relevant books.
-- Bibliography of Early Modern Women Writers That Are In Print
‘This site contains a bibliography of works . . . written by women (with a few honorary women, i.e., men included), mostly before the 20th century with an emphasis on works written before 1800.’
-- A Celebration of Women Writers
This is one of the most useful and helpful sites of its kind; it is certainly one of the first places to begin when doing any kind of serious research on female authors. ‘The Celebration of Women Writers recognizes the contributions of women writers throughout history. Women have written almost every imaginable type of work: novels, poems, letters, biographies, travel books, religious commentaries, histories, economic and scientific works. Our goal is to promote awareness of the breadth and variety of women’s writing.
‘All too often, works by women, and resources about women writers, are hard to find. We attempt to provide easy access to available on-line information. The Celebration provides a comprehensive listing of links to biographical and bibliographical information about women writers, and complete published books written by women. . . .
‘We are also actively involved in extending those resources. A major focus of the Celebration is the development of on-line editions of older, often rare, out-of-copyright works. We choose works from a range of areas to indicate the variety of interests of women writers’
-- CERES: Cambridge English Renaissance Electronic Service
‘CERES, the Cambridge English Renaissance Electronic Service, was started in October 1996 in response to the developing importance of electronic media in literary research. Aimed at those working in the area of English Renaissance literature and its environs, it offered its members a Starter Guide to help them get more from the internet, and a regular email newsletter, CERES Harvest, detailing and reviewing new developments in electronic resources for research in the Renaissance, as well as relaying calls for papers and conference programmes.
‘Soon afterwards the CERES website was created, initially supporting and enhancing the email service, and gradually expanding to offer unique facilities and content. It provides ready access to all that we have done so far, by means of an Archive of recent back issues and of less recent digests, along with our Starter Guide. The electronic world moves fast, so some of the older material is out of date, though not in fact too much of it. Harvest will of course continue to be produced in email form, for those who prefer it that way, and new CERES members are always welcome. We also offer a page of Links, updated regularly, to what we feel are some of the best and most serious online services. The Links page now offers brief guides to the qualities and provenance of the websites we feature.’
-- Chez La Veuve: Women Printers in Great Britain 1475-1700
‘Traditionally, bibliographers and historians have overlooked women’s contribution to the history of book production as being minimal, and tied to the work of their husbands. While a few especially prolific women printers have been recognized, most with shorter careers have been dismissed. This exhibition, researched as part of an independent study and project[,] . . . is an attempt to recognize and rectify their exclusion from directories of printers, bibliographies, and histories of printing.’
-- Close Reading Shakespeare: A Course Portfolio
John Webster of the University of Washington explains in detail the rationale of a teaching strategy that might also provide a model for the study of women writers: ‘I’ve come to believe that the single most important thing I can do for my students is to help them become active readers of literary texts. That means that in every class I teach I deploy time and assignments to enable students to find for themselves what they think a particular text amounts to, and to show me by careful and consistent argument how they arrived at that reading. Operationally that also means that I do relatively little lecturing as such, and that the lecturing I do do generally only aims to provide students with various tools--historical, critical, theoretical--with which they can be more sophisticated in the readings they themselves construct.’
-- Columbia University Women’s Studies E-Guide
A comprehensive list of links on numerous aspects of women’s lives and works.
-- Descriptive Bibliography: An On-Line Tutorial
‘This site endeavors to provide students, literary scholars, book collectors, and other interested parties with a brief introduction to the notational paradigms of traditional descriptive bibliography (quasi-facsimile transcription, collation-formulae, bibliographic reference, and some of the various items found in textual apparatus). The tutorial assumes only basic knowledge of the physical properties of conventional print media, and provides examples of both descriptive notation and the sources from which such notation is drawn.’
-- Directory of Gender Related Internet Resources for Academic Research
‘This directory was compiled by Helen Fallon as part of a thesis for the Masters Degree in Women’s Studies at University College Dublin, Ireland. It aims to link to sources of relevance for those doing gender related academic research. It covers resources which are free of charge to access.’
Contents include links to the following categories: ‘Gateways’ ; ‘Table of Contents Services’ ; ‘Electronic Discussion Lists’ ; ‘Conferences’ ; ‘Organisations’ ; ‘Bibliographies’ ; ‘Electronic Texts’ ; ‘Departments, Research Centres, Programmes and Syllabi’ ; ‘Libraries Worldwide’ ; and ‘Guides to Creating Homepages on the Internet’ .
-- Electric Renaissance
This history course, which ended in Spring 1995, was taught by E.L. Skip Knox of Boise State University. He describes it by saying that it is ‘a course taught over the Internet. This is really rather a traditional class, with lots of reading and lots of discussion and a term paper with all the trimmings. The form of the course is, however, rather different. The obvious difference is the lack of a live classroom. There are no lectures in this course and none of the spontaneous give-and-take that can be so stimulating in a live class. The difference in form, however, has led to differences in the function and structure of the class as well. . . . The course is divided into five broad subject areas: social history, economics (and I’ve thrown exploration in here), religion and the church, political theory and institutions (and warfare), and all the cultural stuff. I’ve used these divisions to group the reading and to organize the material here on the Web.’ The emphasis tends not to be on women or women writers per se but on European politics and culture ‘from around 1300 to around 1500’ .
-- The Electronic Renaissance
‘This course will examine the electronic resources for the study of Renaissance literature and culture through first-hand examination of Web sites available to virtually anyone with the patience and minimal knowledge necessary to search for materials. Students will design their own projects and undertake World Wide Web-based research, in the process learning not just how to access materials, but how also to select and present them using sound principles of scholarship and documentation. The primary graded work for the course will be a multi-media research project, although several shorter exercises will help students familiarize themselves with Web resources and share their findings (on line) with the entire class.’
-- The Emergence of the Feminine Voice, 1526-1640: The Earliest Published Books by English Renaissance Women [by Elizabeth Tebeaux and Mary M. Lay]
‘In this essay, we describe what rhetorical strategies a sampling of . . . women writers developed to address . . . primarily hostile audiences. While women writers had many “voices” at this time, they had in common the same challenge in overcoming audience resistance, and they often chose similar strategies to do so. We hope that those modern scholars asking about differences between men’s and women’s communication style will benefit from learning the characteristics of these first published “feminine voices” . . . In our study, we isolated the first published works written by English women, determined the nature of the content, examined the style, and studied the milieu in which these works were produced. We focused on the Renaissance period of 1526-1640, and we selected prose, rather than fictional or poetic works of women, as this period represents the time when a great many women first ventured into the world of ideas and debate, when their audiences expanded beyond familial or local ones.’
-- Emory Women Writers Resource Project
Sheila Cavanagh (Emory University) is director of this project, which is described as follows on its opening page: ‘The Emory Women Writers Resource Project is a collection of edited and unedited texts by women writing in English from the seventeenth century through the nineteenth century. The Project is a pedagogical tool, designed to offer graduate and undergraduate students in various disciplines the opportunity to edit their own texts. Examples of graduate student work are available under the heading “Edited Texts”. A complete list of unedited texts, the pedagogic introduction, suggestions for assignments, and bibliographic resources are listed under the heading “Unedited Texts”.’ Seventeenth century writers (or texts) included are the following: Bancroft, Margaret; Bathurst, Elizabeth; Behn, Aphra; Boulbie, Judith and Mary Waite; Cavendish, Margaret; Clinton, Elizabeth Knevet; D’anvers, Alicia; Egerton, Sarah Fyge; Eleanor, Lady; Elizabeth [Queen]; Evelyn, Mary; Fell Fox, Margaret Askew; James, Elinor; Kemp, Anne; Manley, Mary de la Riviere; Pettus, Katherine; Trapnell, Anna; Wentworth, Anne; Wingington, Leticia; Wooley, Hannah. Texts by unknown authors include A Family Discussion Between the King and the Queen Regent, His Mother, Concerning Current Affairs and The Gentlewomans Companion. An extremely helpful (and annotated) Research Guide points students to useful materials and leads them through some of the basic processes of annotation. The site allows searching of all the texts, including searches by ethnicity, form, genre, geography, and date.
-- English 330: New Approaches to Renaissance Studies
‘This web site is based on a model . . . designed and constructed in Fall 1995 by James P. Saeger with the support of a grant given by the Pew Foundation to Rebecca Bushnell for the development of innovative pedagogy in Renaissance studies.’ Includes links labelled ‘Syllabus’ , ‘Materials’ , ‘Written Assignments’ , ‘Links’ , ‘Course Description’ , ‘Required Texts’ , and ‘Image Gallery’ . Topics include ‘Court Culture’ , ‘Urban Life’ , ‘Rural Pleasures and Labors’ , ‘New Worlds/New Science’ , ‘New State and the Nation’ , ‘New Family and Sexuality’ , ‘The New Church’ , and ‘The New Subject’ .
-- Eve’s Daughters: the Voices of English Renaissance Women: A Guide to Women Writers of the English Renaissance
Prepared by Nancy Walters of Webster Groves High School in Webster Groves, Missouri, this site ‘is designed to give students of English literature or gender studies an understanding of the roots of modern feminism through the examination of the prevailing misogyny of the period as well as the study of three English Renaissance female authors: Elizabeth I, Amelia Lanyer, and Margaret Cavendish’ . Includes an eight-part outline of a lesson cycle, plus a list of works cited and a bibliography.
-- The Fawcett Library: The National Library of Women
‘The Fawcett Library, the national research library for women’s history, is the United Kingdom’s oldest and most comprehensive research library on all aspects of women in society, with both historical and contemporary coverage. The library is primarily a research collection and includes materials on the following subjects: feminism, work, education, health, the family, law, arts, science, technology, language, sexuality, fashion and the home. The emphasis is on Britain, but many other countries are represented, especially the Commonwealth and the Third World. . . .
‘There are over 60,000 books and pamphlets, dating from 1600 to the present. There are three special collections - The Cavendish Bentinck Collection of old and rare items: The Sadd Brown Library of Commonwealth-related material; and the Josephine Butler Society Library on prostitution, sexuality and related topics. . . . The Cavendish Bentinck Library is a special collection within the Fawcett Library, which contains old and rare books, pamphlets and magazines. There are many seventeenth and eighteenth century classic publications . . . . This collection also houses all of the Fawcett Library’s books, pamphlets and periodicals dating from 1600 to 1850. . . . The majority of the collections in the Cavendish Bentinck Library are catalogued as part of the Fawcett Library records on London Guildhall University’s LIBERTAS computer catalogue system. These records can be searched via . . . the Internet, using the library catalogue.’
-- Feminism and the Changing Face of Shakespeare and Early Modern Studies
This site, created by Kim Hall of Georgetown University as an adjunct to a series of sessions at the Modern Language Association, offers extremely useful and detailed examples of course syllabi as well as a helpful annotated bibliography (ending in 1997) of primary and secondary sources. Among the questions addressed by the sessions and site are the following: ‘What are the long-term effects that feminism has had on what is taught and how it is taught? Has work on race, class and sexuality displaced gender-based feminism or changed the identity of feminism? Does feminism have a future in early modern studies? What is that future? Has the convergence of different critical modes with feminism created more/new spaces for political coalition? Have feminist reading practices changed other practices such as editing? Has feminism succeeded in bringing new voices into the academy?’ One link leads to abstracts of papers presented by Frances E. Dolan, Elizabeth H. Hageman, Barbara E. Bowen, and Peter Stallybrass; most of these have a strong pedagogical emphasis.
-- gender Inn
‘ gender Inn is a searchable database providing access to over 7000 records pertaining to feminist theory, feminist literary criticism and gender studies focusing on English and American literature.’ The records are well annotated, and the site permits searching by topics and keywords.
‘ gender Inn is continually updated. All records are carefully indexed using a feminist search index. . . . The complete database is available in both English and German.’ The site also includes an ‘annotated list of gender and women’s studies weblinks’ . The site also offers helpful bibliographies ‘on some areas of Women’s and Gender Studies’ .
-- GGRENir: Internetography on Renaissance intellectual history
‘This internetography contains links to several hundred internet resources that are of relevance to renaissance intellectual history. The database is browsable and searchable. There is a FAQ concerning the use of GGRENir, and there is information about the current state of GGRENir.
‘The main focus is on history of philosophy (you’ll notice this when using our “browsing according to subjects” ...), but history of science, history of art, history of literature, history of theology, political history, etc. etc. are covered as well.’ This site is especially helpful in allowing searches of book reviews available on the Internet.
-- Internet for Women’s Studies
Prepared by Christine Wise of The Women’s Library, London Guildhall University, this site offers a ‘free “teach yourself” tutorial on Internet information skills for women’s studies.
‘The Internet is a rich source of information and resources for students, lecturers, researchers and professionals. This tutorial covers the key information skills for the Internet environment. Learn how to use the Internet to help with your coursework, literature searching, teaching or research.’
Links allow students to engage in the following activities:
‘Tour some key Internet sites for women’s studies and women’s history
‘Discover tools and techniques to improve your Internet searching
‘Review the critical thinking required when using the Internet
‘Reflect on how to use the Internet for studying, teaching or research’
This site contains an exceptionally long and useful list of Internet links.
-- The Invitation To A Funeral Tour
‘A free-style jaunt around Restoration London. Inspired by the novel Invitation to a Funeral by Molly Brown. Includes a seventeenth-century trivia quiz and much detailed information about various aspects of life in the second half of the century.’ Although this site is not specifically about women, Aphra Behn is a major presence. Students are likely to be intrigued by this site.
-- Life in Elizabethan England: A Compendium of Common Knowledge
The author of this wonderful site is much too modest in describing it: ‘The organization on any particular page was as you see it here: short, brief, snappy, 1-lesson-at-a-time. One topic per page, one page (no more than two) per topic. One factoid per paragraph. Where there is more than enough to fill that guideline, break it up, put it a little further away, give it another snappy title, cross reference it. Just don’t get bored with it. Pick it up any time, and learn one new thing. This is history for the MTV generation. These aren’t essays, they are fact bites.’ Many of the links are relevant to the lives of women, and all of them would be likely to interest students and teachers.
-- A Literature of Their Own? Women Writing -- Venice, London, Paris -- 1550-1700
Each participant in this seminar sponsored in the summer of 2001 by the National Endowment for the Humanities ‘was asked to complete a project related to the content of the institute and useful to themselves and their colleagues. Participants for 2001 have generally created lesson plans which they have deemed usable by colleagues teaching similar courses’. Participants and topics thus far posted include the following: ‘Susan Ahern - The Early Modern Woman: Revised Perspectives; Julie D. Campbell - Poetry, Romance, and Drama; Susan Georgecink - John Donne: A Syllabus for Undergraduate/Graduate Course; Anne Larsen - Examine and compare rhetorical strategies in transnational women’s texts; Sharon D. Michalove - Educated Women, Educating Women: Women, Writing and Learning 1400-1650’ . Michalove’s site is particularly impressive and lists many useful sources.
This exceptionally beautiful and useful site provides enormously useful guides to the lives and works and scholarly afterlives of scores of medieval, Renaissance, and seventeenth-century writers, including a number of women authors. It is highly recommended for students at all levels and is one of the best places to begin any search of the Internet when dealing with British writers before 1700.
-- Making Connections with a Listserv
This site was prepared by Kari Boyd McBride (Women’s Studies Program) and Ruth Dickstein (Main Library), University of Arizona.
‘Using an email forum in the classroom is a low-cost and pedagogically-rewarding way to connect students to each other, to their professors, to library resources, and to the larger computer revolution that is transforming education. We present here the methods and results of our use of a listserv in a Feminist Theories classroom. Our pedagogy could be appropriated by scholars in any field who are interested in teaching all students to be competent and confident users of computer-assisted research, in adapting traditional pedagogies to the possibilities offered by computer technology, and in providing better integrated instructional services.’
-- MASTER: Manuscript Access through Standards for Electronic Records
‘MASTER is a European Union funded project to create a single on-line catalogue of medieval manuscripts in European libraries. This project has developed a single standard for computer-readable descriptions of manuscripts. It has created software for making these records, and tested the standard and the software on descriptions of some 2000 manuscripts. Many of these records will be mounted in a single networked catalogue, available to everyone.’
-- Matrix: Resources for the Study of Women’s Religious Communities
‘Matrix is an ongoing collaborative effort by an international group of scholars of medieval history, religion, history of art, archaeology, religion, and other disciplines, as well as librarians and experts in computer technology. Our goal is to document the participation of Christian women in the religion and society of medieval Europe. In particular, we aim to collect and make available all existing data about all professional Christian women in Europe between 500 and 1500 C.E. The project draws on both textual and material sources, primary and secondary, although its basis is unpublished archival evidence. It addresses a variety of individuals and groups in medieval Europe, and a range of ecclesiastical institutions, including monastic houses of every size, affiliation, and rule. Our editorial intentions in selecting and presenting material are both scholarly and pedagogical--Matrix is designed for use by scholars, students, and anyone interested in the study of women, medieval Europe, or the history of Christianity.’
-- Medieval Feminist Index
‘MFI covers over 400 journals as well as many essay collections devoted in large part to topics dealing with women, sexuality, or gender. However, no year’s worth of publications is completely indexed yet. The indexing for publications from 1995 and 1996 is nearing completion. . . . There are over 5000 records in the database currently, and more than two hundred records are added every other month. We index the most current year for which full journal volumes are available along with backlog years, and we are now working both on 2000 and on the remaining publications from 1994 through 1999. The time period covered is 450 C.E. to 1500 C.E. with Russia extending to 1613, the beginning of the Romanov dynasty, because the sixteenth century is still medieval in social and political terms. The geographic area is Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East as well as areas in which Europeans traveled. Subject coverage for gender and sexuality means that articles on masculinity and male homosexuality are included. Publications in English, French, German, and Spanish have been indexed since the project began in 1996. Materials in Italian began to be included in the database in May 2001.’
Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation: Western Civilization, Act II
Although not designed exclusively for students and teachers at the collegiate level, this is an exceptionally thorough and comprehensive list of links. Many of the topics are relevant to women’s lives, even if not specifically devoted to that topic.
Montana State University: Early Modern Women Writers
This site provides ‘editions of early modern women writers’ , including ‘Sweet Nosegay (1573) by Isabella Whitney and Female Poems on Several Occasions (1679) by Ephelia’ .
-- The Orlando Project
‘The Orlando Project is a collaborative undertaking, involving participants from universities in Canada, the United States, England, and Australia. It is writing the first full scholarly history of women’s writing in the British Isles. At the same time, it is conducting an experiment in humanities computing and providing both training and scholarly community for graduate students.
‘The project will provide an overarching account of women’s writing across the centuries. This will appear in the form of four individually authored volumes of history together with an extensive, collaboratively authored, electronic textbase. In its literary history the project addresses issues raised by recent feminist thinkers and scholars of women’s writing, and it draws on a wealth of new research on women’s lives, their texts, and the conditions under which they wrote. In its computing work it has created a structure for writing, encoding, and working with its basic research material.’
-- Overview of online publication
‘The aim of this page is to provide sources toward a provisional typology of online publishing. It is intended to provoke thinking about how we might resolve the activity into a set of useful categories. No attempt is therefore made to be complete or to judge items for quality other than their usefulness in illustrating potential categories of publication.’ Categories of links include the following: ‘Sources for information on electronic publications’ ; ‘Directories, lists, bibliographies, guides’ ; ‘Discussion groups’ ; ‘Journals & magazines’ ; ‘Projects, research groups, and organisations concerned with e-publishing’ ; ‘Surveys and studies’ ; ‘Miscellaneous’ ; ‘Kinds of e-publishing’ ; ‘Journals and series’ ; ‘Books and monographs’ ; ‘Transcribed books based on print editions’ ; ‘Postprints by author’ ; ‘Electronic companions to printed books’ ; ‘Dissertations’ ; ‘Archives and databases’ ; ‘Bibliographies’ ; ‘Editions’ ; ‘Text and image collections’ ; ‘Reference works’ ; ‘Project descriptions’ ; ‘Conferences and colloquia’ ; ‘Self-publishing of non-refereed materials’ .
-- Perdita: Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Compilations
‘The Perdita Project is a collaborative project funded for a further three years by the Arts and Humanities Research Board of the British Academy and Nottingham Trent University. [It] will produce a database guide to about 400 manuscript compilations in collections around the world. [It] will be a research tool for historians and literary scholars alike.’
The Project ‘is in the process of purchasing a comprehensive microfilm collection of about 400 manuscripts compiled by women in the British Isles. These manuscripts were compiled during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and consist of poetry, religious writing, autobiographical material, cookery and medical recipes, and accounts.
‘The aim is to complete a database, to be published on the Internet, which offers bibliographical information and detailed descriptions of contents for the information of historians and literary scholars. The database will also include the team’s research on the manuscripts and their compilers. This catalogue will go online in 2002.’
-- Renascence Editions: An Online Repository of Works Printed in English Between the Years 1477 and 1799
Includes well-edited texts by numerous writers, including Aphra Behn, Elizabeth I, Lady Jane Grey, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Mary Sidney, Ester Sowernam, Rachel Speght, Phillis Wheatley, and Lady Mary Wroth.
-- SAA Hyperessay on Electronic Shakespearean Criticism
Laurie Osborne’s site explores how ‘the arrival of Shakespearean criticism in hypertext and web format poses its own particular problems in production and reception. . . . This essay in its hypertext form takes advantage of the links of hypertext to explore these issues on three different levels: problems posed by hypercriticism, solutions (proposed and actual), and examples’ .
-- A Sample 16th- and 17th-Century Women’s Studies Syllabus
This site, prepared by Karen Nelson of the University of Maryland, lists readings for a thirteen-week course. It covers such topics as ‘Translations, Imitations, and Editions’; ‘Drama’; ‘Letters and Speeches’; ‘Biography and Autobiography; ‘Poetry’; ‘Music’; ‘Prose Fiction’; ‘History’; ‘Art’; and ‘Non-Fiction’. Useful links are provided for each of these topics.
-- Scholars’ Guide to WWW by Richard Jensen
Although oriented primarily toward historical study, this site is extremely useful as an annotated guide to a wide variety of others sources and sites. It is likely to be useful both to students and to teachers.
-- Selected Women and Gender Resources on the World Wide Web
Compiled by the Women’s Studies Librarian at the University of Wisconsin, this site contains numerous links to many useful resources in a wide range of disciplines, including a link to syllabi and other course resources.
-- 17th Century Women Poets
‘These pages list some of the currently available Internet resources: biographical and bibliographical information on particular poets, selected poems, articles from electronic journals, some online resources on 17th century history and culture, pictures, a course outline and a bibliography.’
-- Shakespeare in Education
Part of Terry Gray’s exceptionally comprehensive Shakespeare site, this page ‘contains both links to sites designed to teach Shakespeare over the Internet and in the classroom, and sites which contain mostly non-print educational materials (such as CD, other software, posters and illustrations, etc.) related to the teaching of Shakespeare. The latter, of course, are commercial sites. Both are relevant.’ Gray has provided very helpful annotations of dozens of relevant sites.
-- Society for the Study of Early Modern Women
‘Because much important scholarly work on early modern women is being done across a whole range of disciplines and cultures’ , this site helps ‘establish a formal network in order to share ideas, to encourage younger scholars in the field, and to disseminate information on projects, conferences, exhibitions, and publications’ . The site includes links listing programs, opportunities, related groups, members’ sites, and bibliographical resources.
-- Some ways to get started searching for articles on Literature and women, gender, feminism
An exceptionally thorough site from Northern Arizona University designed to guide students (and teachers), step-by-step, in searching the Internet.
-- Sunshine for Women: Bibliography of Early Modern Women Writers That Are In Print
‘This site contains a bibliography of works . . . written by women (with a few honorary women, i.e., men included), mostly before the 20th century with an emphasis on works written before 1800.’ Works are grouped by century, from before the 12th and up to the 20th. The annotations of individual texts include all relevant bibliographical information, including ISBN numbers. The bibliography is inevitably somewhat dated but is still quite useful.
-- Syllabi on the Web for Women- and Gender- Related Courses
Prepared by Joan Korenman, University of Maryland, this exceptionally valuable site offers links to approximately one hundred pages for courses in women’s studies. The sites listed often contain suggested readings and assignments as well as many useful links. Sites of particular interest for present purposes include the following: ‘Christine de Pizan in Fifteenth Century England’ (Jane Chance, Rice University); ‘Female Dramatists of the English Seventeenth Century’ (Kathy Acheson, University of Waterloo, Canada); ‘Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare’ (Phyllis Gorfain, Oberlin College); ‘Gender, Revolt, and Heresy: English Literature and Society of the Late Middle Ages’ (Lawrence Warner, University of Pennsylvania); ‘Inventing the Subject: Gender, Sex, and Texts, 350-1400’ (Martine Irvine, Georgetown University); ‘Jews and Gender in Early English Literature’ (Lisa Lambert, University of Illinois); ‘Medieval Women: Tradition and Counter-Tradition’ (Deborah Everhart, Georgetown University); ‘Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century British Literature’ (Stephan Flores, University of Idaho); ‘Sex and Gender in the Middle Ages’ (Maud McInerney, Haverford College); ‘Sex, Women, and Violence in Medieval Culture’ (Lawrence Warner, University of Pennsylvania); ‘Women in the Middle Ages’ (Rebecca Douglass, San Francisco State University); ‘Women Writers from 1400 to 1900’ (Jane Chance, Rice University). Korenman’s site ends with a list of useful (if more general) links, but it also lists Karen Nelson’s ‘A Sample 16th- and 17th-Century Women’s Studies Syllabus’ (described more fully elswhere in this article).
-- Women Dramatists 1550-1670: Plays in Performance
‘In this teaching video, which demonstrably refutes the notion that plays written by women of this period were “unperformed, not intended for performance and unperformable”, Alison Findlay (Lancaster University), Stephanie Hodgson-Wright (University of Sunderland) and Gweno Williams (University College of Ripon and York St. John) introduce and discuss extracts from performances of four plays by women writers:
‘* Stephanie Hodgson-Wright on her 1994 production of The Tragedy of Mariam (1613) by Elizabeth Cary
‘*Alison Findlay on her 1994 production of The Concealed Fancies (c. 1645) by Jane Cavendish and Elizabeth Brackley (directed with Jane Milling, University of Exeter)
‘*Gweno Williams on her 1995 production of central scenes from The Convent of Pleasure (1668) by Margaret Cavendish (directed by Bill Pinner, University College of Ripon and York St. John)
‘*Stephanie Hodgson-Wright on her 1997 production of Iphigenia at Aulis (c. 1554) by Jane Lumley.’
-- Women Writers Project
‘The Brown University Women Writers Project is a long-term research project devoted to early modern women’s writing and electronic text encoding. Our goal is to bring texts by pre-Victorian women writers out of the archive and make them accessible to a wide audience of teachers, students, scholars, and the general reader. We support research on women’s writing, text encoding, and the role of electronic texts in teaching and scholarship.
‘This site is the chief point of access to the WWP’s research and projects. From our searchable catalogue you can find bibliographic information about all WWP texts, including those not yet available, and order draft printouts. You can read about the WWP’s history, projects we’ve undertaken in the past, the people involved in our work, links to related sites, and the funders who have generously supported our work. You can also find documentation of our encoding and editorial methods, syllabi and research projects, information on our current research and archives of our newsletter, and suggested readings if you’re interested in learning more about text encoding.’
-- Women’s Early Music / Art / Poetry
This well-designed and very comprehensive site allows for searching by word or phrase and offers numerous links to other relevant websites. One of its advantages is that it deals with non-Western cultures as well as those of Europe.
-- World Lecture Hall
‘World Lecture Hall publishes links to pages created by faculty worldwide who are using the Web to deliver course materials in any language. Some courses are delivered entirely over the Internet. Others are designed for students in residence. Many fall somewhere in between, and all can be visited by anyone interested in courseware on the Internet, faculty developers and curious students alike.’ Courses are grouped by categories, including English and also Women’s Studies. A search engine allows searching by category, title, description, internet components, faculty, and institution.
-- Worlds of the Renaissance: 1998 Summer Institute Projects
Each participant in this seminar sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities ‘was asked to complete a project related to the content of the institute and useful to themselves and their colleagues. Participants for 1998 have generally created lesson plans which they have deemed usable by colleagues teaching similar courses, though at least one personal “I search” paper is also included among these projects’ . Participants and topics include the following: ‘Marlene Clary: In Search of Perfection; Sarah Cornog: Lesson Plan on the Spanish Encounter: Aztec and Spanish Perspectives; Shawn Eric DeNight: Train the Brain with Renaissance Readings; Tamara Escribano: Malinche: The Identity of an Indian Woman in the Conquest; Patricia K. Ferris: A Teacher’s Guide to Renaissance Art; Elizabeth Gennosa: Technology and the Search for Truth; Russell Goldenberg: The Evolution of the Renaissance Sonnet; John P. Kelleher:’The Rebirth of the Citizen’; A Unit Plan on the theme of Civic Humanism and Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s “Allegory of Good Government”’ ; Linda Kimball: Civic Virtues and Citizenship: A Unit Exploring Concepts of Citizenship in the Renaissance and Today; Jennifer Barletto Klein: Renaissance City Project; Ronna Lee: Essay Prompts for Renaissance Readings; Deborah Marinsky: 1492: The Spanish Inquisition; Patricia Nardi: Education During the Renaissance: An Annotated Bibliography; Eva Ostrum: The Merchant of Venice: A Teaching Case at an Urban High School; Nancy O’Brien: The Capponi in the Renaissance: An I Search Paper; Anita Randall Pilling: Writing Assignment for Machiavelli’s The Prince; Brian Reedy: Renaissance Research Links; Mark W. Scandling: Four Class Discussions; Dawn Schlepko: Worlds of the Renaissance; Krista Scott: Introduction to the Idea of Bias and Point of View; Davina Smith: Celebrating Shakespeare: Creativity and the Renaissance; Kimberley A. Smolik: The Renaissance from Diverse Perspectives; Sally T. Sperling: The Renaissance: Secondary Activities for World History (Giants of the Renaissance); Margaret M. Wildermann: A Source List for The Tempest; Patricia Ann Williams: Utopian Worlds.’ The projects by Reedy, Scott, and Smolik (in particular) contain contents relevant to women’s studies. The designers of nearly all the projects are teachers at secondary schools.
-- Worlds of the Renaissance: 2000 Institute Projects
This site features projects designed by participants in a seminar sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2000. Although few of the sites are specifically focused on women or women writers, all should be relevant and helpful to a better understanding of the milieux of such women. Nancy Walters’ site (see below) is especially useful. Most site designers teach at secondary schools. Designers and their topics include the following: Victoria Antonini - Government / Writing / In the style of Machivelli; Carol J. Blauvelt - Using Pictorial Art of the Renaissance; Rachel Casteel - Women in the Renaissance Lab; Shannon Clark - Renaissance Research Report for Middle School Students; Bob Cooper - History / Student Activity; Brenden Cusack - Creation, Exploration, Destruction -Three Utopian Stages; Jessica Dunlap - Education / History; Craig Farmer - Humanists, Portraits, and Speeches; Marlin Jones - Exploration - Europeans Reach Outward; Marjorie MacArthur - Study Guide for Othello; Nancy Massand - Song of the Unicorn; Dina McArdle - The Use of Satire by Renaissance Humanists; Mary Teresa McCullagh - Renaissance Art and Symbols on the Web; Alana Murray - History and Art; Charlene Rogers - Language and the Other in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest; Linda Rountree - Myth / Animal Symbolism; Carol Gisela Schmidt - Cross-cultural referencing: Ming Dynasty and European Renaissance; Marjorie Schnell - Anachronisms: Voices of the Renaissance and Today; N. Elijah Sivin - Education From a Renaissance Perspective; Carol Smith - Humanities Wax Museum; Carl Spears - Art History / Analysis; Sara Steinbauer - Comparison of Medieval and Renaissance Culture; Steve Touma - Ten Tales; Nancy Walters - Women Writers of the Renaissance Period; Karen Zeh - Introduction to Renaissance Art.
1. In preparing this article I have greatly benefited from the suggestions of the following colleagues, who generously responded to an e-mail query for assistance: Ron Cooley, Isobel Grundy, Julia Hairston, Heinrich C. Kuhn, Maureen E. Mulvihill, Francis F. Steen, Nancy Weitz, Helen Wilcox, Gweno Williams, and Andrew Zurcher. I offer my deepest thanks to them all. (Back)
2. See Georgianna Ziegler, ‘Women Writers Online: An Evaluation and Annotated Bibliography of Web Resources,’ Early Modern Literary Studies 6.3 (January, 2001): 8:1-7. (Back)
3. One of the surest signs that a literary field has reached scholarly maturity is the publication of an Oxford University Press anthology of relevant texts, and we now have a superb example of such a volume: _Early Modern Women Poets (1520-1700): An Anthology_, ed. Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson, et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). It would be hard to imagine a better, or more comprehensive, classroom text than this one. One caveat seems worth noting, however: the manuscript poems attributed to Elizabeth Newell on pages 360-62 of the anthology are not in fact by Newell. They were instead copied by her from printed editions of the poems of Sir Matthew Hale, a seventeenth-century jurist. My own excitement upon reading the manuscript of ‘Newell’s’ poems several years ago led later to this somewhat disappointing discovery. (Back)