Early Modern Female Book Ownership

Psst! Have you already seen this amazing initiative on Early Modern Female Book Ownership? It features very short blog posts on books owned by women between 1500 and 1750. These books are important as they give us information on what books women owned and read, on women’s handwriting and signatures, and on how women presented themselves textually. The blog serves as a record of such books, especially since some of them are sold to private owners and may not be accessible to academics otherwise. The field of book ownership by women and women and book history more generally is a flourishing one, and this website aims to contribute to it in a small way.

Last week a wrote a small contribution on the female ownership notations in copy of one of my favorite eighteenth-century poetry collections, the Gedichten (poems) of miss Sara Maria van der Wilp. You can find the post here.



Recently Published: Quærendo 49/4

The recently published issue of Quærendo includes my article on the visual representation strategies of eighteenth-century Dutch female poets, entitled ‘Visualising Female Authorship. Author Portraits and the Representation of Female Literary Authority in the Eighteenth Century Dutch Republic’.


Memory and Identity in the Learned World

Memory and Identity in the Learned World
Community Formation in the Early Modern World of Science and Learning

On November 7-9, 2019, there will be a conference at Utrecht University on memory and identity in the early modern learned world. This conference aims at bringing together historians of knowledge, art historians, heritage scholars, philosophers of identity, museum curators, sociologists, literary and cultural historians, etc., who are studying cults of memory and community formation in the early modern world of science and learning. The central question for this conference is how scholars, scientists, and learned men and women formed a community by remembering and identification.

I will contribute with the paper: “Female Faces and Learned Likenesses. Visualising Female Intellectual Authority in the Republic of Letters: the Cases of Anna Maria van Schurman, Margaret Cavendish and Maria Sibylla Merian.” You can find the full program  here.

Nacht van de Geschiedenis – 26 Oktober

Op zaterdag 26 oktober vindt in het Rijksmuseum Amsterdam de Nacht van de Geschiedenis plaats. Dit jaar is het centrale thema “Zij/Hij” en wordt stilgestaan bij de vraag hoe genderverschillen historisch gevormd zijn. In mijn bijdrage neem ik jullie graag mee naar een bijzonder object dat te zien is in de vaste opstelling: de Roemer die Anna Roemer Visscher in 1619 schonk aan haar jonge vriend Constantijn Huygens.

Het hele programma is hier te vinden.


Verschenen: Jaarboek 18e Eeuw 2019

Deze week verscheen het splinternieuwe Jaarboek 18e Eeuw. Naast een uitdagend themadossier rond het 300-jarig jubileum van Robinson Crusoe ook dit jaar weer enkele losse bijdragen. Hieronder ook een artikel van mijn hand over de opmerkelijke relatie die de achttiende-eeuwse veelschrijfster Elizabeth (Betje) Wolff had met haar portretten. Hoe komt het eigenlijk dat we maar zo weinig auteursportretten hebben van misschien wel de meest canonieke schrijvende vrouw uit de Nederlandse achttiende eeuw?

Het Jaarboek is te verkrijgen bij uitgeverij Verloren. Mijn bijdrage is ook hier te vinden.

Recently published: EMLC 3 (2019)1.

The latest edition of the open access journal Early Modern Low Countries (EMLC) includes an article by Beatrijs Vanacker and myself on the textual and visual representations of eighteenth-century women translators in the Dutch republic. You can find the article here.

RP-P-1906-1081Portrait of Margaratha Cambon-van Der Werken (1790).


‘It is a pity that not someone like Christina Leonora de Neufville found the time to take on that work’, translator and author Elizabeth Wolff stated when she set eyes on one of the Dutch translations of Voltaire’s Mahomet (1741) in October 1770. Wolff’s comments on these translations provide fascinating insights into some of the underlying dynamics of the eighteenth-century Dutch literary marketplace, where translations made up an important part of the literary production. As recent studies in the field of translation studies have stressed, early modern translations seldom proved to be straightforward renditions of the original but provided eager and upcoming authors to make their claim to literary fame as the translator of more renowned authors. Translating in particular turned out to be a unique opportunity for many early modern European women writers, who often still struggled to establish their names. The case of the Dutch Republic, with its advanced print culture and strongly internationally oriented book market, however, remains hitherto understudied.

This article examines the role translation played in the careers of three Dutch women writers by showing how they used their role as translators to establish and renegotiate their name and (literary) authority, often by interacting directly with the reputation of the translated author. We will use the concept of ‘relational authority’ to address the ways in which Wolff herself, as well as fellow authors Christina Leonora de Neufville and Margaretha Cambon-Van der Werken, used translation as a textual platform to convey their intellectual posture and voice. Our analysis will focus specifically on both the textual and visual dimension of their public image-building by considering how ‘relational’ representations appear in paratexts and portraits respectively.

van Deinsen, L. and Vanacker, B., 2019. Found through Translation: Female Translators and the Construction of ‘Relational Authority’ in the Eighteenth-Century Dutch Republic. Early Modern Low Countries, 3(1), pp.60–80. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/emlc.90

Verschenen: Spiegel der Letteren 2018 3-4

Afb. 2Het jongste nummer van Spiegel der Letteren (2018, 3-4) bevat een bijdrage van mijn hand over de ontstaansgeschiedenis van het monument voor Lucretia Wilhelmina van Merken in de Oude Kerk te Amsterdam: ‘Vrij van faamziekte. Over de oprichting van het gedenkteken voor Lucretia Wilhelmina van Merken (1721-1789) in de Oude Kerk te Amsterdam in 1828’.

The literary fame of Lucretia Wilhelmina van Merken (1721-1789) has been described in terms of rise and fall. In the decades following her death, her reputation rapidly changed from being one of the most popular and well-respected Dutch authors to a somewhat boring representative of the old-fashioned eighteenth-century literature. In 1828, over thirty years later, the Amsterdam Genootschap voor Uiterlijke Welsprekendheid managed, nevertheless, to erect a monument in honour of Van Merken and her husband, Nicolaas van Winter (1718-1795), in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. But why? A hitherto unknown manuscript in the collection of the Koninklijk Oudheidkundig Genootschap in the Rijksmuseum sheds new light on the realisation of this project and allows us to place the initiative in the context of the growing desire for public memorials in the early nineteenth century and the still complicated relation between female authorship and celebrity culture.

Zie mijn Academia voor een PDF van de publicatie.

Conference Portraits & Poses – 21 & 22 March KU Leuven

Powerpoint_versieOn March 21 & 22 the annual conference of the Dutch-Belgian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies takes place at the KU Leuven. This year the conference addresses the visual and textual representations of female authority in early modern Europe. How did female intellectuals and professionals construct their public profile in a period when femininity was primarily associated with the private sphere? Which function did portraits and publications had in this process and how was the dynamics between locale and international fame?

Papers will be given in English and French. Keynote speakers include Cordula von Wyhe (York University), Biancamaria Fontana (Université de Lausanne) and Catriona Seth (Oxford University).

You can find the full programme and the abstracts on our conference website.