Many thanks to Marie-Louise Coolahan, Professor of English at the National University of Ireland Galway, who presented “Patterns, Outliers, and Teasers: Questions and Challenges for the Reception of Early Modern Women’s Writing”. Thanks also to our Centre director Professor Rosalind Smith who hosted the evening, and our international audience.
Professor Colahan presented the ‘big-picture’ findings emerging from the European Research Council-funded project, RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700. This project explores a series of questions that arise in the course of evaluating women’s writing at scale: how did texts by women circulate? Who read them? How were they read, appropriated, or adapted? The project’s primary aim has been to move beyond case studies in order to provide a large-scale, quantitative analysis of these issues. The talk introduced RECIRC’s open-access database and presented results that illuminate the most commonly circulated genres and patterns of widespread circulation. It showed how such patterns throw up new research questions that often determine a return to close-reading techniques. The findings of the project argue for the value of at-scale analysis as a combination of quantitative with qualitative approaches. Professor Coolahan demonstrated the ways in which the database makes both of these approaches available to researchers everywhere, through the search function complemented by high resolution images of the original documents. She commended exploration of the platform to researchers interested in the circulation and reception of the more than 3000 English and non-Anglophone women writers present in the database.
Speaker: Marie-Louise Coolahan is Professor of English at the National University of Ireland Galway. She is the author of Women, Writing, and Language in Early Modern Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2010), and her work has appeared in journals such as The Seventeenth Century, Criticism, Critical Quarterly, Huntington Library Quarterly, Early Modern Women, and Women’s Writing, as well as many essay collections. She edited “The Cultural Dynamics of Reception,” a special issue of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2020), and is co-editor (with Gillian Wright) of Katherine Philips: Form, Reception, and Literary Contexts (Routledge, 2018). She is the Principal Investigator of RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700, funded by the European Research Council (https://recirc.nuigalway.ie/).
The recording of the seminar in now available, alongside our previous seminars, on the CEMS You Tube channel.