5-6 May 2014: Public seminar and second project meeting at Turku City Library and the University of Turku


    • Päivi Lappalainen (PI), Viola Parente-Čapková (Post-doc researcher), Jasmine Westerlund (Project assistant), University of Turku;
    • Gertjan Filarski (Developer), Janouk de Groot (Project assistant), Astrid Kulsdom (Project assistant), Suzan van Dijk (PI), Huygens ING;
    • Marie Nedregotten Sørbø (PI), Volda University College;
    • Tanja Badalič (Project assistant), Katja Mihurko Poniž (PI), Aleš Vaupotič (Senior Researcher), University of Nova Gorica;
    • Henriette Partzsch (PL), Judith Rideout (PhD student), University of St Andrews;
    • Inkeri Näätsari (Director), Laura Yli-Seppälä (Researcher), Turku City Library (5 May);
    • Outi Paloposki (invited speaker), University of Helsinki (5 May).

Monday, 5 May 2014

After words of welcome from Päivi Lappalainen and Viola Parente-Čapková, Inkeri Näätsari started the day with a general presentation of the history of Turku City Library, a modern institution  with very strong roots in the nineteenth century. Laura Yli-Seppälä provided a fascinating introduction to the Old Collection of the library, which is now starting to yield unique insights into the reading culture at Turku during the late nineteenth century. The morning session was rounded off with a presentation of TTT. Henriette Partzsch gave a general overview of the project, followed by Suzan van Dijk‘s reflections on the use of the current database and Gertjan Filarski‘s explanations about the structure and features of the new Virtual Research Environment which is currently being developed at Huygens ING. Lively discussions continued during the lunch break in the cafeteria.

In the afternoon each project team presented work in progress, with the objective of showcasing provisional results and questions emerging from the handling of historic sources which provide information about translations. Päivi Lappalainen is currently finishing research into the reception of girls’ literature in Finland; she highlighted the importance of Swedish translations, especially of English language literature, but also the presence of editions in the original English, thus demonstrating that booksellers’ advertisements are a very valuable and rich source. Viola Parente-Čapková is working on women in the Cygnaeus Collection and the Old Library Collection in Turku. The progress of her research allowed her to present the audience with some quantitative information about the presence of women writers in the Collection. The greatest number of women writers was found in the Scandinavian and Finnish Sections; furthermore, the researcher discovered a clear emphasis on feminist texts, perhaps due to the influence of the actress Minna Backlund, married to Cygnaeus.

Henriette Partzsch underlined the importance of studying serialised novels in daily newspapers to develop a better understanding of the circulation of translations in nineteenth-century Spain. Her analysis of the presence of women writers in five periodical publications from the mid- century showed how newspapers played off women writers against each other to mark their ideological position, for instance as part of a transnational Catholic movement. Some women writers resisted this appropriation, proposing instead their own evaluation of their peers. The starting point for Suzan van Dijk‘s talk was the irritation expressed by a number of Dutch journalists and critics by what was perceived as an exceedingly high number of translations of works written by women. Her research into the reception and translating of foreign women authors showed, once again, the important role plaid by protestant ministers in nineteenth-century literary culture in the Netherlands. This is a well-known phenomenon, yet the considerable number of translators who turned out to be protestant ministers or wives or daughters of protestant ministers is striking, and will be further analysed.

Tanja Badalič provided an overview of relevant sources for tracing translations and reception in nineteenth-century Slovenia. During the first half of the century, reception can mainly be found in German periodicals; furthermore, texts in the original German and translations from German are present in libraries and collections. From the 1890s onword, there is a clear preference for authors of Slavic origin. New insights were achieved thanks to the possibility to determine the acquisition date of books in the Studienbibliothek Laibach, the predecessor of today’s National and University Library in Ljubljana. Marie Nedregotten Sørbø continued with questions of sources and how to find historic translations. Starting with a sample of names of English-language women writers, she discussed existing bibliographies on Norwegian literature and the results they yield. The next step will be to go directly to selected historic newspapers and journals. The reference to “the Kingdom of Denmark with appertaining countries” in an older compilation highlighted the complex question of belonging, especially in the context of nineteenth-century nation building and in a situation in which the borders of countries and language areas overlap but are not identical. At an institutional level, this problem is illustrated by the location of major agents of literary culture (University, publishing houses) in the metropoli.

Turku City Library, old building (Photo: MNS)

The second project meeting of Travelling Texts, 1790-1914 took place in the city of Turku/Åbo. The first day was dedicated to a public seminar hosted by Turku City Library, one of TTT’s two associated partner institutions. On the second day we discussed key concepts and practical issues in rooms provided by the University of Turku. Warm thanks go to our wonderful hosts and organisers of the meeting, Päivi Lappalainen and Viola Parente-Čapková (University of Turku), as well as to Inkeri Näätsari, the director of Turku City Library – they made this encounter in Finland truly remarkable.

The afternoon finished with the intervention of the invited speaker. Outi Paloposki, (University of Helsinki) gave a paper with the title “Translating women: Women, translations and society in late 19th-century Finland”. She provided a fascinating overview of the state of translation in the general context of literary culture in Finland before focusing on questions of agency, especially related to women translators. In her conclusion, she underlined the need for contextualisation, with special attention to enabling and constraining factors. Currently, there is a lack of case histories on translating. A focus on individual life histories would, in the long run, draw a more comprehensive picture of women translators and their role in Finland. The day ended with an excellent dinner at the restaurant boat Svarte Rudolf (http://www.svarterudolf.fi/)

Jasmine Westerlund, Päivi Lappalainen and Janouk de Groot study the menu.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The morning started with a discussion of some of the key concepts we use to refer to the methodological and theoretical framework of our project, such as for instance national/international/transnational and empiricism. TTT was very pleased to welcome Prof Lea Rojola, Head of Department of Finnish Literature, who provided valuable input from outside the project.

Action Point

Based on the discussion HP will write a position paper about the theoretical framework of TTT, with critical help from VPC, to facilitate discussion and for future reference.

We then continued with a discussion about which sources we use and how to handle them, an essential point because it is the very foundation of the comparability of our data. We particularly focused on those countries that still have to enter a lot of data (Finland, Norway, Spain). SvD provided an overview of TTT sources in the database and promised to circulate her excel document about sources. The discussion showed that sources need a very careful treatment in the VRE; for instance, it would be necessary to include sources which have been checked and found to contain no data about reception, for the purpose of comparison.

Action Point

Each team will provide a brief description of the sources they use, explaining why they are useful for the project. These descriptions will form the basis of our first Milestone, a reasoned overview of the sources we use, to be made accessible on the project website (please see grant application). Deadline: 25 June

  • Gertjan will reflect on the representation of different levels of nothingness…

The afternoon was dedicated to planning and preparation.

Admin update

1.   General:

The first Progress Report was submitted on time (deadline end of February). Many thanks to all partners for their timely work on the report. The Handling Agency asked a few

immediate questions about more technical aspects, which have been answered. Since then, we have received no further feedback or requests.

The Finance and Research Departments of the Universities of St Andrews and Glasgow are in contact about the transfer of the grant to Glasgow. This may generate some paperwork in the coming weeks. HP will try to ensure that all documents which need a signature are ready for signing before Midsummer, to avoid problems with the Nordic summer holidays.

2.   Finland:

Jasmine Westerlund has officially joined the team to work on data entry.

3.   The Netherlands:

Janneke Weijermars (Post-doc researcher) has left the project, for personal reasons. She will produce an article in Dutch about the important literary critic Conrad Busken Huet, who was also a husband and brother to several women authors. The article will be included in a special issue of the journal De negentiende eeuw (The 19th century), together with contributions by Ton van Kalmthout, Lizet Duyvendak, Annemarie Doornbos, among others. The editors of the special issue will be Janneke Weijermars and Suzan van Dijk (end of the year). Janneke Weijermars will also present her material in English at the SHARP conference, which will take place in Antwerp this year. She will be replaced by Francesca Scott, official start date September 2014 although she is already now starting her collaboration with TTT. Francesca’s area of expertise is English literature, with a special interest in women’s health, childbirth, motherhood and its representation. The team will discuss how to integrate her in the most productive way, on the basis that most of the sub- teams will not work on such a specific topic.

Jacqueline Bel, a researcher from the Free University of Amsterdam has expressed an interest in collaborating with TTT.

The design of the website is progressing well. The new logo was discussed. Comments and suggestions, for instance difficulties with reading the thin font or a version without letters, will be reported back to Bas Doppen.. The website will be hosted at Huygens ING, with continuing access to the NEWW site. It will have a blog section, ideally with weekly posts and a comment function. Posts should be send to Astrid for coordination and publication.

4.   Norway:

Elisa Fugledal (research assistant and Masters Student at Volda) has joined the project in January, on an hourly-paid basis. She will provide data entry.

5.   Slovenia:

After the submission of her doctoral thesis TB will join the team as a Postdoc researcher. Computer equipment and software for visualisation have been received, as planned. This will allow to work with digital animation and provide high-quality dipslays for the planned exhibitions.

6.   UK: Transfer to Glasgow, see above.

Action Points

1.   Send our institutional logos to Huygens ING (liaise with Astrid and Janouk), for incorporation in the website

2.   Write suitable material for the blog whenever possible (liaise with Astrid)


Janouk de Groot and Astrid Kulsdom presented a paper with the title “Curating our data in view of the new VRE”, discussing how the quality of our data can be assured. They raised the following fundamental questions:

1.   How are we going to organise the essential data curation at an international level?

2.   Who will curate the data for each country?

3.   How will we communicate about the data curation process?

In the ensuing discussion, it was suggested to include a FAQ section about data curation on the website, to limit as far as possible the number of emails Astrid and Janouk have to answer. Questions about the switch over process and its consequences were answered.

Povisional timeline for the switch over

  • Closure of the database for data entry (log in) by mid/end of June
  •  Limited opening in July for testing purposes (there will be bugs!)

Action Points

1.   Each subteam establishes how it will organise data curation, in the short term in view to the transfer to the new VRE (standardisation of authors); each subteam will liaise with Janouk and Astrid when it engages with the data curation process.

2.   The team has been made aware of the need for manual data curation after the switch over;

each subteam will reflect on their possibilities to assure this essential activiy goes ahead.

Planning of the upcoming meetings and activities

1.   Slovenia

The next project meeting, in conjunction with a round table at the Vilenica Festival, will take place on 4 and 5 September 2014. On the evening of Wednesday, 3 September, there will already be a presentation of MNS’s book on the screen adaptations of Jane Austen. The Thursday will be dedicated to a discussion of our work in progress and planning. On Friday, 12 noon, VPC will moderate a panel with contemporary writers in the framework of Vilenica Festival. KMP will also try to arrange an encounter with pupils from Nova Gorica who interviewed Slovene women writers, asking them about their foremothers. She plans to translate the outcome into English and present them during the meeting, for further dissemination. SvD suggested to contact the Dutch ambassador for additional funding, for instance to finance the participation of a researcher from the Free University of Amsterdam or to subsidies an additional activity, if this could be fitted into the programme.

2.   Norway

The meeting, in conjunction with a panel at the Norsk Litteraturfestival at Lillehammer, will take place during or overlapping with 25-31 May 2015, the dates of next year’s festival. Detailed planning of activities will only begin once this year’s edition of the

Litteraturfestival will be over. A venue of the festival is Sigrid Undset’s home. The team expressed an interest in visiting Dagny Juel Przybyszewska’s home in Kongsvinger, which is now a Women’s Museum, and including Volda in the itinerary if at all possible. MNS will explore whether the practical problems (costs, time) can be reduced to a minimum, for instance by securing accommodation in one of the student halls in Volda.

3.   The Netherlands

It was suggested to organise the meeting in The Hague during the last week of September 2015. SvD and her team are already discussing with the Letterkundig Museum regarding the planned (physical) exhibition. In addition, there will be connected exhibitions t in local archives and museums in towns for which we are aware of considerable numbers of women authors (for instance: Utrecht, Haarlem) – perhaps also collaboration with other archives. Depending on possibilities these connected exhibitions may take place fall 2016. For preparation “ordinary readers” will be asked to participate; a trainee has already started working on the material. The physical material will be used also for preparing a digital presentation.

4.   UK

Because of the move to Glasgow the date of the final conference (Cultural Encounters through Reading and Writing: New Approaches to the History of Literary Culture) can be reopened. The team suggested to look whether a date in June 2016 (but before Midsummer) would be viable, taking into account the dates of other relevant conferences such as Digital Humanities and British Comparative Literature Association / International Comparative Literature Association. The team also started discussing names for the three keynotes, with the idea of covering expertise on 19th century literary culture, women’s (literary) history and Digital Humanities. Names mentioned included: Yvonne Leffler, Susan Brown, Ann Marie Mai, Julia Flanders, Karen Offen, Margaret McFadden, Linda Hutcheon, Andrew Ginger, Joanna Drucker. HP will liaise with Glasgow in order to establish the essential information as soon as possible and disseminate it among the members of NEWW (and beyond), to provide a perspective for further collaborations. Conversations continued over another excellent dinner, this time at Panimoravintola Koulu: http://www.panimoravintolakoulu.fi/?lang=en, closing the meeting.

The team at the University of Turku, after a long day of discussions.