18th-Century Women and Social Networks (ASECS, Mar. 22-25, 2012)
As mothers, writers, theater managers, shop owners, actresses, and artists, among other occupations, women frequently worked with each other to advance individual and sometimes collective goals. This panel invites papers that explore the ways women used their ability to network as a means of creating new work spaces and types of work for themselves, negotiating new areas of influence, and transforming the commercial literary marketplace in a number of capacities. Possible areas of discussion might include women's shaping of and responses to contemporary attitudes toward their participation in commercial literary and artistic production, women's collective efforts to make themselves commercially viable, the negotiation of the rhetoric of female writers as "performers," and women's writing (especially to other women) as a type of social networking. As writers, patrons, friends, and colleagues, what were the networking tools available to 18th-century women and how did they use them to increase their presence and productivity in commercial, literary, economic, and artistic avenues?