The European Research Council (ERC) and the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) have awarded grants to researchers from COST Action, Women Writers in History.
Women Writers in History – Toward a New Understanding of European Literary Culture, the COST Action, which ran from 2009 to 2013 enabled new opportunities for their researchers to further develop humanities research in Europe.
Celebrating pioneering research
International Women ‘s Day, Sunday 8 March gives us the opportunity to celebrate these women, who have continued pioneering research in large European research programmes, contributing to a more balanced picture of – western and eastern – Europe’s cultural heritage.
The Women Writers in History COST Action focused on the role of women’s writing up to the 19th century; specifically, the problem of women’s invisibility in historiography from a gender and transnational perspective. This collaborative research raised key questions to lay the groundwork for a new history of European women’s participation in the literary field in the centuries before 1900: To what extent were women writers read in a certain period? How were they perceived and commented upon, and how did this perception shape and translate into the literature?
Among many other nationally funded projects, COST Action participants succeeded in securing funding for connected projects from the ERC and HERA. Through these great achievements, they have demonstrated the value of COST.
The HERA research project: “Travelling TexTs 1790-1914: Transnational Reception of Women’s Writing at the Fringes of Europe” was a collaboration between members of the Action from Norway, Finland, Slovenia, Spain, and the Netherlands, funded from 2013 to 2016. The five leading project participants had been COST Action members: Dr Suzan van Dijk (Chair of the Action); Prof Marie Nedregotten Sørbø, Prof Katja Mihurko Poniž, and Dr Henriette Partzsch (Working Group leaders) and Prof Päivi Lappalainen (MC member). This project focused on the role of women’s writing in the transnational literary field during the 19th century. It explored cultural gender encounters through reading and writing that contributed to shaping modern cultural imaginaries in Europe.
Researchers awarded grants
Prof. Marie-Louise Coolahan, COST Action Working Group leader, and MC member from the National University of Ireland, Galway was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant for RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700. This is a research project about the impact made by women writers and their works in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The project involved a team of 11 researchers based at the National University of Ireland Galway, from 2014-2020, producing a large-scale, quantitative analysis of the reception and circulation of women’s writing during this period.
Prof. Alicia Montoya, COST Action MC member was granted an ERC Consolidator Grant for MEDIATE: Understanding the Literary System of the 18th Century , based at Radboud University from 2016 to 2021. MEDIATE studies the circulation of books and ideas in eighteenth-century Europe by drawing on a unique database of 2000 – 3000 eighteenth-century private library auction catalogues. MEDIATE aims to address the Enlightenment from a reception viewpoint, studying not only the circulation of books but also potential readers.
Prof. Mónica Bolufer, COST Action MC member is principal investigator of the CIRGEN project: Circulating Gender in the Global Enlightenment: Ideas, Networks, Agencies, which has received an ERC Advanced Grant and is based at University of Valencia, Spain from 2019 to 2023. CIRGEN offers for the first time a transnational and transatlantic approach to the circulation of gender models in eighteenth-century Europe and its colonial territories
Dr Carme Font Paz, COST Action Working Group member won an ERC Starter Grant for ‘WINK Women’s Invisible Ink: Trans-Genre Writing and the Gendering of Intellectual Value in Early Modernity’. This project identifies and examines the neglected written production of women in early European modernity in order to modify the single-gender paradigm of intellectual value. It runs from 2019 to 2024 and is based in the Department of English at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.
Prof. Marie-Louise Coolahan (former COST Action Working Group leader) adds: “It’s great to report that such prestigious, high-profile outcomes of COST Action Women Writers in History continue to emerge; two of these ERC awards began only a few months ago but six years after the Action finished. Many other nationally funded projects came out of this COST Action, as well as generating the DARIAH-EU Working Group, Women Writers in History. Humanities research outputs often make their impacts over a longer period of time. It is a real testament to the COST programme and shows how fertile the space for ideas that it facilitates can be.”
Female researchers within COST activities
COST is committed to promoting, supporting and encouraging women in STEM. The following graphs demonstrate the participation of men and women in various COST activities.