This project promotes ongoing work in women's book history by providing a hub where scholarship and resources on women's writing and labor is made visible. Often major book history companions and readers do not explicitly discuss women's work, but this is not due to a lack of scholarship. This bibliography ameliorates the absence of mainstream attention by providing a venue where the breadth and depth of scholarship on women's lives and labor can be explored.
How It Works
The bibliography is a database of secondary sources on women's writing and labor. Primarily our sources are in English, and non-English sources have a rough translation included. The database is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all book history sources that refer to women or discuss women, but instead a thorough snapshot of studies that take women as their primary subjects. There are several factors that we would like to be transparent about. First, our database has an Anglo-American bias. We are slowly complicating this with more global sources (and are happy to take any suggestions for more). Secondly, we are literary scholars who focus on the broad Early Modern period, and the database is shaped by these interests and our training in these fields.
Our project is meant to be descriptive of the field, not proscriptive. We define book history in the same terms as Leslie Howsam in Old Books and New Histories: the intersection of history, literary studies, and bibliography. As such, our list clusters around the overlaps between these subfields that we list in the "Fields" option on the database. Since book historians have significant interest with digital methodologies, we specifically index sources working on gender in digital humanities. As a project of intersectional feminism, we also index sources by other relevant interests: critical race studies, postcolonialism, and LGBT+ and sexuality.
This list is a growing organism, and we are always open to adding new sources. Please contact us with suggestions for new additions.
Cait Coker is a doctoral candidate in English literature at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. She has an MLS from University of Maryland, College Park, and has worked as an archivist and special collections librarian. Currently, she is working on her dissertation titled "Liminal Ladies: Reconstructing the Place of Women in Seventeenth-Century English Book Production," which recovers women's labor in the book trades from seventeenth century England to zines and fan fiction.
Kate Ozment received her PhD in English literature from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. She has completed a yearlong seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library and held fellowships at the Newberry Library and the University of Chicago's Special Collections. She defended her dissertation, "The Author and the Agent: Women's Writing and Commercial Publishing in Early Modern England," which rewrites book history's origins from a feminist perspective to imagine a gendered model of book production. Her publications include reassessments of authorship and print culture on Delarivier Manley and Aphra Behn.
Together, Coker and Ozment are currently working on several small projects on the WBHB as well as a book on feminist bibliography.
We are very grateful for the startup and maintenance funding for this project, which was provided by the Elizabeth Greenwade Qualls '89 Endowed Fellowship through the English Department at Texas A&M University. Our database was built through a generous grant from the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture. Our biggest thanks go to Laura Mandell, Bryan Tarpley, and the IDHMC staff.
Conceptually, the bibliography would not be possible without the pioneering work of Maureen Bell, Michelle Levy, Lisa Maruca, Paula McDowell, and Helen Smith. In particular, we want to thank Margaret J.M. Ezell for her mentorship and unfailing support and encouragement on this and other projects.
Lastly, we would like to thank our contributors, who have helped us grow the bibliography substantially.