Author Summary Project
(This information is also available on Canvas assignments. I've extended the time limit to 15 minutes.)
For the presentation you will introduce a thumbnail sketch of the writer and work as would be useful to a literary scholar.
Provide a sheet or website with the information for class dissemination and discussion.
Orally review information and your process of discovery in class. Approximately 10-15 minutes.
This preliminary research provides the introductory historical information for the student of eighteenth-century studies,
and it also provides firm grounding for any analysis of the figure or work. By offering the historical,
statistical, biographical and bibliographical records, the researcher can set the stage accurately for any
further investigation. It also informs the public scholarship you write for Wikipedia, and so it improves
the knowledge of our subject available to the general reader.
The following subjects should be investigated; the results should be presented to the class in an organized and easily
understood format. Keep a record of the references and resources used (including databases and websites) to be
listed in a works consulted/cited section. Keep notes on the usefulness and accuracy of resources for discussion
in class. ALWAYS DOUBLE-CHECK INFORMATION against more than one source. NEVER rely solely on an uncredited website or unauthorized or out-of-date source.
For the author:
years of birth and death, places of residence, education, marital/family status, social position, posts or titles, honors
Statistics on publications:
list of published works, major editions and the scholars associated with them, authoritative texts or editions, archival material and locations
Summary statement of major accomplishments as a writer; estimate of literary reputation.
For a single work or volume:
Date, place/bookseller, print run, editions, reviews, thumbnail of reception history to 20th century
Bibliography of secondary materials:
Ten most important works – books and/or articles, top scholars, hot or recent topics related to text.
Trends and Further Research
Based on your research and the scholarship you have read, identify the major trends in scholarship on your
author and her best / most popular work, and indicate areas for further research.
For your last discussion post, take the opportunity to reflect on the course content and your experience of the research process. We set many objectives
for this class. Which objective did you achieve most satisfactorily? Which objective remains a bit remote?
Reflect on Susan Staves' plot for her literary history of eighteenth century women writers, in particular her last paragraph from the introduction.
By 1789 women writers had become a normal, albeit minority, part of literary production. Between 1777 and 1789, for example, thirty-two plays by women
were produced on the public stages and about 224 novels by pulbished. More women -- including Burney, Cowley, Inchbald and Smith -- now had substantial
and celebrated literary careers lasting decades. While some women writers continued to come from the aristocracy and the gentry, increasingly women from the middling ranks,
especially those from families of knowledge workers like teachers and booksellers, established themselves as writers. More women also took on the literary
authority entailed in editing, anthologizing, reviewing, and writing literary biography and literary criticism. At the same time, most wromen writers still experienced
considerable anxiety that their literary ambitions might somehow unsex them and engaged in self-censorship that constricted or weakened their work. Some took on the task
of policing other women to keep them within the narrowed constraints of proper contemporary feminine domesticity. Our story of the rise of the women writer is,
therefore, bittersweet" (26).
How does your particular writer fit into Stave's history of women's writing, and what can we learn from her example?
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