MLA LLC Restoration and Eighteenth Century British Literature

Panel title:  Preserving and Circulating Women’s Texts 1660-1740

Chair:  Laura L. Runge, University of South Florida

In light of the massive digitization of culture and the monetization of digital distribution models, this panel seeks presentations on current methods, examples, or concerns related to the preservation and circulation of women’s texts.  In some ways, this is a call to account for work being done in the digital archive that may not yet be visible to the audiences that could benefit by it.  In other ways, it is a call to examine the types of support given to women’s archives and the financial resources invested in them.  Laura Mandell recently pointed out that many online projects for women writers did not reach their potential and are no longer “living sites.”  “[W]e have nothing as yet on the scale of the Whitman, Blake, or Rossetti archives, or the sites for Shakespeare, Thomas Gray, Herman Melville, to name a few more – no sites, that is, which focus on bringing us a woman’s entire oeuvre, through many editions and revisions, along with all her letters, diaries, and other writings” (Mandell, “Gendering Digital Literary History: What Counts for Digital Humanities”).   Women writers are the subject of many DIY sites rather than “big well-funded projects that simply reiterate[] the masculinist canon” (514).  Recovery is not something that major publishers appear interested in any longer, either.  Yet the Women Writers Project (subscription website based out of Northeastern) and Orlando: Women’s Writing of the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present (subscription database published by Cambridge UP) provide some of the most authoritative and innovative scholarship on women writers in digital formats.  Are we at a time when Restoration and eighteenth century scholars need to create sustainable indices for women’s sites?  Do we need to formalize collaborations and/or crowdsharing techniques to create the full archive of women’s oeuvres?  What are the critical issues facing scholars who engage in the preservation and circulation of women’s texts, 1660-1740?  This panel seeks to showcase the research in progress, to identify the shared obstacles, and to brainstorm on strategies for getting the work done.


Please send queries or abstracts of 300 words to by March 15, 2017.

The MLA will be meeting in New York City, January 4-7, 2018.  The presidential theme is #States of Insecurity