Historicizing the VIDA Count

Inspired by the class I taught last semester and some of the writing that came out of it on this blog, I wrote a piece for VIDA that they have just published on their website: Women’s Citizenship in the “Republic of Letters” One-Hundred and Thirty Years Ago and Today


VIDA conducts an increasingly widely publicized count of women’s writings and reviews of their works in the leading literary venues. I had done something similar with the Atlantic Monthly from the late 1800s so wanted to compare then and now. The results were not good. Women were publishing about the same then as they are now.

VIDA “address[es] the need for female writers of literature to engage in conversations regarding the critical reception of women’s creative writing in our current culture.” I am honored to be part of the conversation. And I am thrilled to find today’s women writers interested in learning about how Constance Fenimore Woolson and other women writers of the past fared. For the obstacles they encountered and the struggles they endured are not entirely different from what women are facing today in the literary world. And that is the saddest news of all.

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