Women and the Book: A Symposium Preview

At the end of October, the University of London will host a one-day symposium called Women and the Book, noting that this year, the University of London celebrates the 150th anniversary of women's first access to university education in Britain with the intake of eight women at Queen Mary College.

Despite the fact that men have been granted far more access to education than women over the centuries, and have consequently dominated the world of books, women have been writing for at least over 1,000 years, and have been book owners, readers, and publishers since at least the Middle Ages. Therefore the symposium aims to explore the interaction of women and books in Britain from the Middle Ages to the present, from the time that the book left the printing house: as collectors, owners, readers, and mediators, whether curatorial (librarians) or literary (adapting and translating for new audiences). It aims to enable connections across time and across types of engagement with the book, in discussions covering book, literary, and cultural history.

Guest speakers include Dr. Katie Halsey from University of Stirling, who will be speaking about women reading Jane Austen. Dr. David Pearson from University of London will discuss the women book owners of the seventeenth century. It's worth sharing that Pearson keeps an open source list-in-progress of notable book owners in the seventeenth century, a superb resource for research in the history of the book and for building an understanding of who was buying and reading books in Britain. 

There are three talks on the early modern period, including a talk about early modern women's texts by Marie-Louise Coolahan and Mark Empey, a talk on embroidered bookbindings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Gilly Wraight, and one by Stephanie Fell titled "Women's Hidden Work: Innovative and Creative Descriptive Practices for the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University." Fell will be discussing the work of catalogers at Duke to create access to topics of scholarly interest - like women and provenance or women printers.

There are three talks themed on the idea of "Women Striking Out" with Stephanie Meek on the censuring of the woman reader, Karin Winslow, who will speak aobut Bella da Costa Greene, and Alicia Carroll on women and the collection of herbal texts in the twentieth century.   

Sara Charles will speak about Medieval readership of a text from a thirteenth-century priory, and Sophie Defrance will speak about girls' use of libraries at the beginning of the twentieth century.

There is also tea. Of course. The symposium will be held on October 26, from 9:30 am-6:45 pm, Court Room, First Floor, Senate House, University of London. And tickets can be booked online.