Dr. Anne Larsen of the HopeCollege faculty is co-editor of the book "Early Modern Women and Transnational Communities of Letters," published in November by Aldershot: Ashgate of Surrey, United Kingdom.
Larsen co-edited the book with Dr. Julie Campbell, who is a professor of English at Eastern Illinois University of Charleston, Ill. Together they made a presentation on the book during a colloquium on Wednesday, March 31, at the Newberry Library, a preeminent humanities research and reference institution in Chicago, Ill.
"Early Modern Women and Transnational Communities of Letters" concentrates on cross-national communities of letters in countries such as Italy and France, the Low Countries, England and Scotland. It offers a comparative approach to early modern women's writings. Individual essays investigate women in diverse social classes and life stages ranging from mothers and siblings to nuns and celebrated writers and artists.
Asked in what ways the book fills a gap or a need in the field of early modern studies, Larsen explained that it situates early modern women as embedded in communities of like-minded men and women who collaborated with each other artistically and in response to the political, religious, and cultural pressures of the time. Women writers and artists were not the lone prodigies, alienated from family and friends that critics once purported them to be. They found inspiration and support from familial, religious and political networks, as well as coteries and literary / artistic circles. The book thus highlights connections between communities and crosses several kinds of borders - geographic, linguistic, political, and generic.
A second feature of the book is that just as early modern women functioned in several languages including Latin, Greek, and the vernaculars, French and Italian especially, so do the scholars who contributed the essays. Their familiarity with several languages enabled them to carry out extensive new archival work.
Larsen has published articles and book chapters on French Renaissance and 17th-century women writers; most recently, she is the editor and translator of "From Mother and Daughter: Poems, Dialogues, and Letters of the Dames des Roches" (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and co-editor of the "Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England" (ABC-CLIO, 2007). She is currently investigating the letters of the 17th-century Dutch scholar Anna Maria van Schurman.