Only Connect!: Intertextuality, Circulation, and Networks in Digital Resources for Women’s Writing

panel / roundtable
  1. 1. Alison Booth

    University of Virginia

  2. 2. Sarah Connell

    Northeastern University

  3. 3. Marie-Louise Coolahan

    National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway)

  4. 4. Jeremy Boggs

    University of Virginia

  5. 5. Julia Flanders

    Northeastern University

  6. 6. David Kelly

    National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway)

  7. 7. Rennie Mapp

    University of Virginia

  8. 8. Worthy Martin

    University of Virginia

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This panel brings together papers by three projects that are working on digital methods for researching and representing the textual networks of women writers. “Documentary Social Networks: Women Travel Writers in Prosopographies,” by Alison Booth with Worthy Martin, Rennie Mapp, and Jeremy Boggs, focuses on a cohort of travel writers from the

Collective Biographies of Women project to consider documentary social networks and the “sibling” relationship of subjects who occupy a single biographical volume. “Intertextual Networks: Theorizing and Encoding Textual Connections in Early Women’s Writing,” by Sarah Connell and Julia Flanders, presents the Women Writers Project’s (WWP) work on using markup to model and research the citation and quotation practices of early women writers in the context of the larger ecology of digital projects focused on gender. “Digital Representation, Intertextual Relationships, and the Impact of Early Modern Women’s Writing,” by Marie-Louise Coolahan and David Kelly, describes the research of the RECIRC project (The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing: 1550-1700), focusing on RECIRC’s development of taxonomies of reception and circulation and on the methodologies for understanding textual transmission that the project has been testing.

These projects explore the problem of intertextuality at several different levels: primary source documents (including print and manuscript), metadata, and synthetic or critical narratives such as biography and annotation. Each project faces the challenges particular to its own place in the digital ecology and also the challenge of making its data usable in other parts of that ecology: connections that will depend on the collaborative generation of digital standards. The projects also share an interest in understanding the roles that gender played in the circulation of texts, investigating what women read and cited, which women were read and cited, and how women were represented in writing. Together they offer an opportunity to explore how intertextuality, as understood in the context of the modern web of linked open data, operates not only as a deliberate rhetoric of quotation but also through more complex interconnections between texts, authors, and other cultural agencies—and how those links can effectively be brokered through connections between digital research projects and resources.

These three papers will not only discuss the various textual networks of women writers that are the subject of their individual projects but will also consider connections between the projects themselves, highlighting both points of contact and distinctions. We see this panel as an opportunity to examine the wider possibilities for making intertextual connections legible among digital systems of textual circulation.

Documentary Social Networks: Women Travel Writers in Prosopographies
Alison Booth with Worthy Martin, Rennie
Mapp, and Jeremy Boggs
New literary histories using large digitized corpora can scale up the longstanding interest in intertextuality, beyond allusions and acknowledged influences. Such projects as the Women Writers Project and RECIRC engage not only textual but also personographic data, as all kinds of metadata interdependently form rigorous measures of intertextual transmission. As feminist literary history, such projects are also committed to contexts of women's lives and networks of representation. The Collective Biographies of Women (CBW) project studies Anglophone prosopographies (collective biographies, or a quantitative approach to standardized lives in sets) women of all occupations in books published since 1830, revealing trends in representation of women through an annotated bibliography, a database and stand-aside XML markup of narrative structure and discourse (Biographical Elements and Structure Schema, or BESS a stand-aside XML schema for marking elements of biographical narratives at the level of the paragraph). Unlike many feminist DH projects, CBW is not an archive of women's creative writing, though at least 700 of 8700 persons in the database are writers (one person is likely to represent several types). We study the collocation of women in books; thus Harriet Martineau, in 25 collections, is a “sibling” in “one degree of separation” from the 316 individuals found at least once in those collections. We have begun with typological cohorts and sample corpora focused on a nodal woman (all the volumes in which her biography appears) because of the labor-intensive analysis in our project's design.

This talk introduces the cohort of travel writers in CBW, focusing on the sample corpus of volumes that include a short biography of the famous mother and travel writer Frances Trollope (CBW includes 10 books entirely of female travelers; 17 collections of great mothers or mothers of the great. It should be noted that CBW assigns 137 collection types- e.g. genre; theme; types of women in them- and the 1272 volumes may each be assigned more than one type). Her biography joins assortments of different types:

One exemplary text for this paper will be Una Pope-Hennessy's Three Englishwomen in America (London: Benn, 1929), on Frances Trollope (for an earlier account of Frances Trollope as travel writer and mother, see Booth, 2015), Harriet Martineau, and Fanny Kemble, to illustrate the concept of documentary social networks and the “siblings” who occupy a single volume. More recently, we study the author of such a collection, in the cohort of some 995 “presenters” (i.e. biographers, illustrators, editors), 567 of whom were female. Currently, the CBW database relates an author such as Pope-Hennessy only to the book, not to the persons associated with its chapters. We would like to visualize the relations among authors and their subjects as well as we already trace intertextual exchange among versions of the same lives.




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Figures 1,2. Kemble: Steel engraving by Johnson Wilson, & Co., after painting by Alonzo Chappel, after painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Trollope: Frontispiece: “Francis Trollope from a portrait painted by A. Hervieu,” in Frances Eleanor Trollope, Frances Trollope: Her Life and Literary Work from George III. to Victoria, 2 vols. (London: Bentley, 1895). Harriet Martineau by Richard Evans (National Portrait Gallery). Mrs. Anna Brownell Jameson, 1844, Hill and Adamson salt

print, Art Institute of Chicago.

The portraits of British women authors who wrote

famous observations on America in the 1830s, adapted as frontispieces, take on a family resemblance in spite of the great social and personal distance among these mutual acquaintances. Covers and illustrations often create composite portraits (see Booth, 2004:33-42) Pope-Hennessy's Englishwomen had bestselling books or tours in the 1830s, warranting their then-fashionable portraits (Cecil Beaton photographed Pope-Hennessy). Whereas Trollope and Kemble, and Martineau and Kemble, only coincide in Three Englishwomen in America, Martineau and Trollope share 8 collections, 3 on travelers, others on more miscellaneous achievement. What common ground justifies narratives of their lives in a single publication? Pope-Hennessy's title suggests it is their gendered transatlantic vision. It does not spell out that these Victorian writers attacked America for its manners and for slavery. CBW finds distinctive features in lives of women writers who traveled, besides an increase in geospatial data: a publication event characterizes and types the author (“Trollopize” is the verb the came from Trollope's offensive Domestic Manners of the Americans); literary biographies devote a high proportion of paragraphs to summary of the works, in contrast with biographies of queens or nurses, for example.

Databases tend to label persons by nationality and familial role. Our research shows the temporal or narrative dimension of supposedly fixed traits as well as the unstable scope of events. Englishness (the event “birth”) should be modified by later adopted countries; Trollope and Kemble emigrated to the US for some years, and both primarily resided in Italy in later life. Married mothers, novelist Trollope and actress Kemble later separated or divorced; political theorist Martineau was unmarried and childless; these relations shape their representation. Many events challenge the researcher to affix GIS or standard dates, such as the bankruptcies (tied to family relations) that enabled all three writing careers; these crises had far-reaching continuance in creating their opportunities or need to travel. We have identified the most frequently narrated events in all versions of the three writers' lives, potentially mapping their travels, works, and lives in a way adaptable for any intertextual biographical cohort (see http: // db /events.phpl




Name: Move to Georgia Plantation

Note: December 1838; Butler Island Plantation, which was about 1 mile south of Darien, GA (GIS: 31° 22' 16" N, 8l° 25' 51" W) Latitude: 31.371111 Longitude: -81.430833

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1. Frances Ann Kemble • —

The talk shares portraits, visualizations of documentary social networks, maps, and innovative interface (rich-prospect browsing) to reveal analyses of versions of the same person or persons within networks of text. We sample intertextuality in which these and other women enter into the body of each others' life narratives. Like any biography, Pope-Hennessy's chapters assemble citations and redactions of previous versions, from letters, archives, and autobiographical records to biographies; the textual methods of RECIRC or a tool like Juxta, as well as BESS analysis, fruitfully compare versions. The paper will reflect on the intertextuality of representation of women writers and travelers, as well as the challenges of a comprehensive prosopographical study using digital tools to develop a large-scale and finely grained analysis of women’s biographical histories.


The Collective Biographies of Women Project is supported by the E-Text Center, Scholars’ Lab, and Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) as well as English Department at the University of Virginia, CBW has received ACLS Fellowship and NEH ODH Level-II Startup funding

Intertextual Networks: Theorizing and Encoding Textual Connections in Early Women's Writing
Sarah Connell and Julia Flanders

Intertextual Networks is an initiative of the Women Writers Project (WWP) at Northeastern University aimed at exploring and theorizing the representation of intertextuality, with a focus on the citation and quotation practices of the authors represented in the WWP’s digital collection, Women Writers Online (WWO). The WWP’s work on Intertextual Networks incorporates several strands: focused projects conducted by individual research collaborators; sustained examination of the modalities of intertextuality as revealed by the work of our staff and collaborators; and a large-scale encoding project creating a bibliography of all the texts named or quoted in WWO, linking the texts in that bibliography with their occurrences in the WWO corpus, and substantially expanding the encoding of intertextual phenomena in our textbase. In this paper, we will discuss the aims and methods of the project, offering models for encoding complex intertextual features and setting out some processes for the systematic application of additional markup to an existing corpus. We will also consider the implications of this project for the larger ecology of digitized collections focused on gender and on women’s writing.


While Intertextual Networks is a recent initiative of the WWP, it has grown out of several decades of previous research as manifested in WWO and other WWP publications-particularly Women Writers in

Review, a collection of around 700 reviews and publication notices responding to the authors in WWO. The almost 400 texts published in Women Writers Online are primarily print English-language works, representing a broad cross-section of texts written and translated by women from 1526 to 1850. These texts have been transcribed and encoded using the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines. Intertextual Networks also builds on and contributes to ongoing research into the digital representation of intertextuality, including the substantial work already evident in the TEI Guidelines’ recommendations for encoding titles, quotations, and other textual references. Additionally, we are working with the Orlando Project’s (see also, Brown et al, 2004) and the RECIRC project’s (The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700) bodies of research into developing taxonomies of reception, circulation, and intertextuality. Intertextual Networks is equally grounded in literary and historical scholarship on the ways that women from the early modern period to the mid-nineteenth century read and responded to texts (e.g., Horrocks, 2008; Rumbold, 2006; Winterer, 2008).

Design and goals

This project is working to create a much clearer and more textured picture of the rhetoric of intertextuality: what female authors read; what they felt it important to quote, paraphrase, or cite; and what mechanisms connect their writing to that of other authors. In addition to the relatively straightforward instances of explicit quotations, citations, and references to specific titles, the project is also invested in developing practices for marking up subtler forms of intertextual engagement that emerge from verbal echoes, stylistic or topic similarities, imitation, parody, and other transformative ways of responding to what one has read.

Because WWO is chronologically broad and generically diverse, it provides a considerable range of opportunities to test different encoding practices against textual exemplars. The textual references in WWO are often densely layered and quite complex— for just a few examples, Lady Eleanor Davies inserts the full text of other documents into some of her political pamphlets; the 1706 Ladies’ Diary constructs short poems, called “Enigmas,” out of lines from several other poetic works; and Elizabeth Craven’s 1789 A Journey through the Crimea to Constantinople inserts a poem that she wrote based on, and sometimes “literally translated” from a pamphlet, with citations to the pamphlet itself (43). Thus, an important goal of this project is not only to reveal early women’s intertextual practices but also to test and model methods for representing the considerable complexity of these practices in TEI markup, working with formal categories without flattening out useful levels of nuance.

Encoding and bibliographic development

In developing a bibliography for the texts named in WWO, we have found that a balance of programmatic intervention and human attention can effectively accomplish systematic adjustments across our corpus. Using XQuery, we have generated a spreadsheet with the distinct titles—and authorship details where they are available—referenced in WWO. The WWP’s encoding staff has been gathering basic publication details (standardized titles, authors, and dates and locations of initial publication), removing duplicates, disambiguating wherever necessary—such as with the many texts that are titled “Poems”—and adding unique identifiers. Our bibliographic data follow Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) recommendations. Preserving the titles as they are represented in WWO, with the XPaths used to locate each, means that we can automatically add the unique identifiers back into the corpus when we have completed the initial bibliographic work. This approach enables us to identify the more than 6,000 <title> elements in WWO relatively quickly, while ensuring from the outset that there are no duplicate entries and laying the groundwork for the future additions of texts and textual details as we expand our source identification to quotations and other textual references.

We have also found that human and programmatic intervention can be fruitfully combined in establishing and implementing methods for encoding those intertextual features that are not straightforward <quote>s and <title>s and in expanding our understanding of how quotations and titles are being used by the authors in WWO. XPath and XQuery can reveal usage patterns and identify cases that might warrant additional investigation—such as the relatively rare instances in which titles are named in dramatic verse. Corpus-wide queries are also useful in locating additional examples of textual phenomena in order to decide how best to encode them. For example, we have reviewed emendations and translations of quotations, indirect references to titles, instances in which textual materials are elided from quotations, quotations within quotations, and incorrect or partially correct citations to develop consistent

encoding practices that are applicable across our corpus, despite its variety.


This project is concerned with both discovering textual reverberation (the traces of women’s reading that emerge in their writing) and with making that reverberation legible within the new digital systems of textual circulation. Within the boundaries of the Women Writers Project, that legibility is effected through the encoding that makes intertextuality an explicit feature of our modeling of texts. The use of a community standard like the TEI and the future availability of an API to the project’s data extend that legibility—in principle—beyond the project’s walls, but these methods do not in themselves build the complex web of interconnections that would constitute digital intertextuality. By placing the WWP’s work alongside that of Collective Biographies of Women and RECIRC (two out of a much wider field of relevant connections) this panel will suggest what that larger intertextuality could look like, and what further work would be needed to realize it.

Digital Representation, Intertextual
Relationships, and the Impact of Early Modern Women's Writing
Marie-Louise Coolahan and David Kelly
This paper emerges from the research of the team working on the RECIRC project (The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 15501700; see, funded by the European Research Council (2014-2019) and led by Marie-Louise Coolahan. It will describe the project, its development of digital tools, collaborations, and plans for interoperability with cognate projects. It will focus in particular on our development of taxonomies of reception and circulation, designed to capture data that reflects early modern source material, as the basis for our dialogue with the Women Writers Project and Collective Biographies of Women project - a dialogue that is centrally concerned with questions of intertextuality, circulation and the collaborative generation of digital standards.

The RECIRC project is essentially a study of intellectual impact. Its fundamental research questions include: Which women were read? How, where, and by whom were they read? RECIRC is structured around four interlinking ‘work packages’, each of which takes a specific entry point in order to amass quantitative data relating to the reception and circulation of women’s writing between 1550 and 1700. The first of these posits the Catholic religious orders as transnational channels by which devotional and polemical texts were translated and transmitted; it investigates the martyrologies and bibliographies of the various religious orders, as large-scale compendia of texts that included female-authored works. The second ‘work package’ examines scientific correspondence networks (and therefore also complements the research currently brought under the umbrella of Women’s/Early Modern Letters Online (EMLO, WEMLO) and Reassembling the Republic of Letters (led by Howard Hotson); the wealth of data to be found in the scriptorium operated through Samuel Hartlib has meant we have focused specifically on this circle. The third approach aims to rebalance the bias of digitization projects toward print culture by harvesting data from early modern manuscripts. It does so by focusing solely on the category of the manuscript miscellany (a compilation of miscellaneous materials) in order to assess the contexts for excerpting and transcribing women’s writing. It differs from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) initiative, which is a full-text transcription project, in its harvesting and structuring of data relating specifically to reception and circulation. The fourth RECIRC approach is concerned with early modern library catalogues; it captures data on the proportion of female-authored items in order to facilitate statistical analysis relating to the gendering of such book collections.

RECIRC, then, is testing these methodological approaches for understanding the ‘big picture’ of textual transmission, reception and circulation of women’s writing in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The focus on women’s writing enables investigation of the routes to impact that were exploited by early modern women, as well as of the ways gender inflected the construction of writerly reputation. It also delimits the corpus, facilitating our testing of methodologies for studying the circulation of non-elite, non-canonical writing in the period. Rather than producing a full-text digitization of primary materials, the project has been centrally concerned with developing taxonomies of reception and circulation - and these are the basis of collaboration with the WWP's current Intertextual Networks project and the Collective Biographies of Women project. This encompasses productive conversations around the kinds of intertextuality (quotation, excepting, citation of text and/or author) that occur in relation to women’s writing, and their modes of digital representation. There are also important areas of divergence: RECIRC is working with metadata categories rather than xml tags; although each instance of reception evidence is supplied as full-text, these instances are themselves extracts from significantly larger texts. Moreover, RECIRC is concerned with all - women’s and men’s -reception of female authors, which allows for equally productive conversations about gender and reception.

RECIRC data are stored in an online database, which will be made publicly accessible at the project’s close, and is intended to be interoperable with cognate projects, such as the NEWW Women Writers Virtual Research Environment. The database architecture (built using a RESTful API approach) enables multiple output formats and we will discuss possibilities for interoperable outputs. Moreover, the project is now (October 2016) at the stage of data cleaning, in preparation for experimenting with visualization tools and quantitative analysis. We aim to create network visualizations and analyses that embrace both the gendering of reception and the relationships of texts with each other. Questions include: Which genres of female-authored texts were most popularly circulated? What forms of circulation (translation, excerpts, citation) were most conducive to their transmission? How important (and prevalent) was attribution to their circulation? Which female authors were reading and using other women writers? What circulation contexts promoted women as authors? If accepted to DH2017, we intend to present our preliminary answers to the questions and patterns that emerge during this quantitative analysis phase.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2017

Hosted at McGill University, Université de Montréal

Montréal, Canada

Aug. 8, 2017 - Aug. 11, 2017

438 works by 962 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (12)

Organizers: ADHO