A Spanish academic has embarked on a five-year quest to rescue the works of female writers from the margins of European thought and give them the recognition they have been denied for centuries.
Carme Font, a lecturer in English literature at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, has been awarded a 1.5 million euro (US$1.7 million) grant by the European Research Council to scour libraries, archives and private collections in search of letters, poems and reflections written by women from 1500 to 1780.
Font’s objective is not so much to unearth unknown or invisible female authors as to recover the voices of individuals whose work has traditionally been dismissed as overly personal and anecdotal “women’s writing.”
“These were women without formal education,” she said. “They wrote popular texts and letters about religion and politics. Their texts are less sophisticated and aren’t the work of famous female writers, but these are the ones we’re rediscovering.”
Although many of the women Font studies used religious language as a means to express themselves, their texts encompass much more than just the Bible.
Many contain musings on life, philosophy and the nature of the soul. Others are more temporal.
“There are everyday texts, about family problems, marital problems, sexual issues and abuse, and about their personal frustrations,” Font said.
“I don’t want to suggest that these women were just protesting or complaining — there are a lot of women who were writing about subjects that interested them: about politics and current affairs,” she said.
Taken as a whole, the texts subvert the idea that women in the early modern period were passive individuals or intellectual bystanders.
Font attributes their lack of recognition to the simple fact of their gender, limited access to education, and to social and intellectual conventions.
“What they wrote was seen as minor, as being a mere repetition of what men had written. Because a lot of these woman never had a formal education, they wrote in a more informal way. They weren’t following a formal essay style and they were criticized for that and told: ‘No, your writing isn’t proper; you don’t respect the flow of cause and effect,’ and so on. That’s how their writings came to be marginalized,” she said.
Font, who is using the grant to pay for five full-time project staff and to fund travel, conferences and workshops, said she had been struck again and again by the rigor and power of some of the religious and philosophical writing she has come across.
“There are dozens and dozens of women who — despite being unknown and making no claims to being mystics — express a very deep understanding of the human soul and articulate it in a religious or theological way that is every bit as impressive as the work of their contemporary male theologians,” she said.
However, the project is about something more fundamental than forgotten thinkers who could rank alongside St Teresa of Avila or Hildegard of Bingen.
“It’s about evening out our perceptions and acknowledging that even if women wrote in a different way, their ideas possess an intellectual value,” she said. “We need to change the way we read those texts and give them their just values.”
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete