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Manuscript deadline
01 August 2021

Cover image - Women's Writing

Women's Writing

Special Issue Editor(s)

Claudine van Hensbergen, Northumbria University
[email protected]

Hannah Moss, University of Sheffield
[email protected]

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Women Writers and the Creative Arts in Britain, 1660-1832

 Guest editors: Claudine van Hensbergen & Hannah Moss 

 1700 saw the publication of The Nine Musesthe first collective endeavour by women writers in England. The poetic anthology responded to the death of the poet laureate, John Dryden, with nine women writing under the assumed personas of the classical muses. This fascinating example reveals how women appropriated the idea of the arts as a gendered category, one to which they were central. Nearly eight decades later, the same concept underpinned Richard Samuel’s celebrated group portrait of 1778, in which he depicted contemporary Bluestocking writers, artists and singers as ‘the Muses in the Temple of Apollo’. Women’s centrality to the development of the arts in Britain has, of course, been a far more contested idea than the above examples allow. Once seen as entirely marginal, scholarship of recent decades has increasingly argued that the relationship between women and the creative arts is more complex and much work remains to be done in this area. Indeed, in her 2009 essay, ‘Recovering from Recovery’, Laura Rosenthal reflected on the state of the field of women’s studies, noting that “while recovery has been, and continues to be, indispensable, it has nevertheless framed women writers in ways that sometimes limit our full understanding of their intellectual, historical, and artistic force”. 

This special issue aims to develop new understanding of the relationship between literature and her ‘sister arts’ by encouraging contributions that explore the vital and particular force of women in the creative sphere. We seek abstracts for papers that will add to existing knowledge of the relationship between women writers and the wider creative arts in the long eighteenth century, a period that saw the emergence of the first professional women creatives, as well as the emergence of the schools and institutions that would shape British culture in the modern age.  

In this special issue of Women’s Writing, we seek to address some of the following questions: 

To what extent did women writers engage with the wider creative arts (architecture, crafts, drawing, painting, sculpture, dance, design, drama and textile arts)? Did this engagement inform the content of, and approach to, their writing? Do women have a special relationship with the creative arts, either as producer or subject? To what extent have gendered ideas of ‘the amateur’ and ‘the professional’ shaped scholarly approaches to women creatives, and to what extent was this the case in the period? How did gendered ideas about art itself (‘the sister arts’) inform literary and artistic discourse? To what extent have new digital resources transformed our understanding of the relationship between women and the arts in the long eighteenth century 

We invite submissions of papers on any aspect of the relationship between women’s writing and the creative arts between 1660 and 1832. 

Topics might include but are not limited to: 

    • Women and creative institutions (academies, clubs, schools, societies, etc.) 
    • Literary patronesses and the creative arts 
    • Women’s libraries and the arts 
    • Creative families: mothers, wives and daughters 
    • Domestic and professional arts 
    • Female education and the creative arts 
    • Women and the creative arts on the stage 
    • Literary portrayals of the female creative 
    • Memoirs of female creatives and women’s accounts of making and experiencing creative works 
    • Ekphrasis and the sister arts 
    • Book illustration, extra-illustration, and scrapbooking  
    • Scholarly/contemporary narratives of the female amateur 
    • Gendered ideas of creativity and artistic manufacture 
    • Reception histories and recovery 

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Submission Instructions

Please submit for consideration abstracts of 250-500 words by 1 November 2020 to Claudine van Hensbergen, Northumbria University ([email protected]) and Hannah Moss, University of Sheffield ([email protected]). Please include a brief author biography (50-100 words). Finished articles of between 4,000-7,000 words must be received by August 2021

Please note: we also welcome suggestions for book reviews and reviewers. 

Contributors should follow the journal's house style details of which are to be found on theWomen's Writingweb sitehttps://www.tandf.co.uk//journals/authors/style/reference/tf_G.pdf 

This is the new MLA. Do note that instead of footnotes, we use end-notes with NO bibliography. All bibliographical information is included in the end-notes i.e. place of publication, publisher and date of publication in brackets on first citation of a book. 

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article