Cultures of Reception

Cultures of Reception was a research project funded by a generous $200K grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, focusing on the reception and readership of early women’s writing. Starting January 1, 2011 and concluding in December 2015, the grant supported a collaborative research project to investigate the role that women’s literary writing and its reception played in the formation of Anglophone literary culture in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

As part of this project, the WWP digitized nearly 700 periodical reviews and explored other forms of reception on a smaller scale, including manuscript commonplace books and women's magazines. These materials are linked to the source texts they comment on, so that readers of Women Writers Online can discover available reviews of WWO texts. The transcribed documents are publicly accessible through the Women Writers in Review interface, which also includes an API, so that other scholars can further extend and contribute to this line of research in the future. Working with these reception materials, the project’s core collaborators produced a set of exhibits exploring the cultural geographies of women’s literary reception between 1770 and 1830. These pieces will be published online as part of Women Writers in Context, the WWP’s open-access collection of exhibits, articles, and contextual information on women’s writing.

For more information, please see the full proposal and the final report.

Most significantly, Cultures of Reception enabled the WWP to develop tools and processes for capturing reviews and other reception materials, and this work will continue even after the conclusion of the grant. We will continue to digitize periodicals and expand the coverage of our reception history to include greater geographical, chronological, and topical scope. In the future we also hope to expand the scope of the work to include other forms of reception materials such as manuscript letters, diaries, literary histories, and anthologies.