"This project will produce a large-scale, quantitative analysis of the ways in which women’s writing was received and circulated in the early modern period. By exploring the phenomenon of early modern literary reception in a rigorous and comprehensive way, the project will allow us to see more clearly the importance and function of reception; specifically how the field of reception articulates and develops critical and aesthetic engagements, how it reveals the extent to which gender shapes ideas about authorship, and how it historicizes our current debates about intellectual impact and gender. Existing reception scholarship has focused on qualitative case studies and tended to prioritize print culture; the field requires a quantitative approach that takes full account of the realities of textual transmission in a period when manuscript circulation retained its broad appeal. RECIRC overcomes the logistical challenges by focusing on the category of the manuscript miscellany and on networks as centres of textual circulation, producing new knowledge about transmission and book ownership. The project will test the hypothesis that the attribution of texts to anonymous, pseudonymous and gender-designated authors is revelatory regarding how gender determined reception.
RECIRC’s specific objectives are: to challenge assumptions that women’s penetration of the literary field in this period was limited by focusing on textual reception rather than production; to transform current thinking on the nature of impact and the quality of reception by classifying and analysing the modes of textual engagement in new ways; to provoke a new understanding of the invention of the author in this period by approaching the question via reception, grounding it in a gendered understanding of the complex constructions of authorship that includes the exploitation of anonymity and pseudonymity; and to advance current discourses about scholarly impact by opening up and critiquing their historical contexts."
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