How do we approach or engage with a large collection of unfamiliar texts? What frames of reference do different readers need or want, in understanding early women’s writing? Moving beyond the table of contents and the contextual essay, the WWP is now experimenting with a new form of publication that we are loosely calling “exhibits”: a variety of writing that combines critical argument, images and media objects, visualizations, and close interconnections with the primary sources in Women Writers Online. Exhibits accompany and contextualize the WWO collection, but they also represent a point of entry and a set of topical orientations.

What is an exhibit? The term is now used in a variety of senses to describe forms of digital exposition—some explicitly drawing on ideas of curation in the tradition of museum exhibitions, others pushing the concept towards interactive and community-driven media. Our white paper sets out some of the context on which we are drawing, and suggests some of the directions we ultimately hope our exhibits will take. Briefly, we see the exhibits as a flexible form of writing that may combine aspects of traditional written argumentation with digital visualization, multimedia, and dynamic interaction with the WWO collection. They are an opportunity for individual scholars to to produce interesting and insightful pairings of texts, explore the development of historical concepts or literary forms (within genres, across genres, within or across historical periods or literary movements, etc.), and expose readers to important trends in current scholarship, and to unfamiliar authors and texts. Just as importantly, exhibits are an opportunity to experiment with forms of scholarly publication: a medium for both emerging and established scholars to publish original work in a non-traditional format.

Among other things, exhibits might:

  • Offer a critical introduction to a particular text or author
  • Explore a particular theme of relevance to early women’s writing, commenting on and quoting from specific WWO texts
  • Extract selected portions of WWO texts, as well as searches and results, and present them in the context of scholarly commentary.
  • Explore connections between several texts or authors, perhaps using searches or visualizations as a starting point
  • Suggest a fruitful sequence of readings on a particular issue such as women’s education or astronomy
  • Juxtapose segments from multiple texts to reveal new intertextual connections
  • Pose a set of questions or searches to guide novice readers into a particular topic or genre
  • Examine the evolution of a literary genre, or its different handling by different authors
  • Contextualize a WWO text by suggesting connections with other texts, in or out of WWO

Being linked both to and from the texts with which they engage, exhibits are thus both an entry point into the WWO collection and also a form of exploration within it, connecting texts and themes to help readers move around within the collection. Through detailed topical keywording, connections between exhibits can also be explored.

The WWP’s exhibits are a form of scholarly publication (albeit a non-traditional one in many ways). All exhibits are reviewed by the WWP editorial team, and will remain a permanent, publicly accessible feature of the WWP/WWO space. They are citable as publications, so they can be referenced or included in a CV as with any other publication. Exhibit authors are free to republish their exhibits in other venues and formats.

Contribute: If you’re interested in contributing an exhibit to WWO, we would love to hear from you. Please see the guidelines for authors for general information, and our statement on peer review for an explanation of our review policies. For more detailed information, or to propose an exhibit, please contact the WWP at wwp [at] neu {dot} edu.