There's a meme going around; the "female author's meme," it's called. Now, I'm not criticizing the people who've done it, nope, I'm happy to get reading ideas from folks. I saw that Kermit did it, and Kermit links to Phantom Scribbler, who links to Slow and Steady, who links to Mon at My So Called (ABD) Life. Mon says she developed it from several top book lists around the web; recalling her list in March for Black literature, she decided to honor women, too.
That's a GREAT idea. Seriously, yay Mon.
But, can I just ask that we look back a little and include some women who wrote a bit earlier? (And the absence I'm sure reflects absences in the lists Mon was looking at.)
Partly my frustration comes from being 400 years behind in my reading. Partly from just being behind.
But the list reflects for me the way that women today often treat historical women. Women's studies classes and women's writing classes often seem to teach or assume that women before, say, 1800, really aren't important, or didn't write, or were just so oppressed as to be totally uninteresting, or whatever.
As someone who does earlier lit, I've long gotten the sense from some feminist colleagues that my work is invalid, that I can't possibly be a feminist scholar (not because, apparently, of my massive personal failings, but because Shakespeareans can't be feminists in the popular imagination).
It's as if feminist scholars really believe that Virginia Woolf's inability to find earlier women writers reflects their real absence rather than the difficulties of doing good historical research into women writers at the time. You know, difficulties like not having easy access to Pollard and Redgrave's Short Title Catalogue, perhaps? (The earliest date I can quickly find for the STC is 1937, referring to the microfilm series. No doubt it's earlier, but I couldn't find it. The earliest copy my library has is 1945, and we don't have the microfilm series.)
So, in honor of really dead writers everywhere (my favorite kind), I'd like to create a meme of really dead women writers! As with all writers, the deader the better here! Let's say, dead for at least 300 years, or so?
Here's the idea: I'll put in five women writers. If you're interested, pick up the list, add five more of your favorites, and drop me a line at Bardiacblogger at yahoo dot com to check your site. With even a few contributors, we'll get a great meme with fewer of my idiosyncracies than if I do it myself. (And yes, it will probably end up Euro-centered, but I'd love to learn more about non-Euro earlier women writers, too, so add them in, please!)
The (draft) REALLY DEAD WOMEN WRITERS meme.
Behn, Aphra - Oroonoko
Christine de Pisan (aka Pizan) - The Book of the City of Ladies
Julian of Norwich - Revelations of Divine Love
Locke, Anne (aka Ane Lok, etc) - A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner
Marie de France - The Lais of Marie de France