The Paper Ceiling: Women, Eighteenth-Century Periodicals, and the Literary Canon
For decades, eighteenth-century periodicals have been readily available in countless digital databases--Google Books, the Burney Newspapers Collection, Adam Matthews Eighteenth-Century Journals, Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Collections Online, --simultaneously, feminist literary scholars have been recovering previously ignored eighteenth-century women writers. While scholarly journals and as a result, classrooms, have included more women writers into the literary canon, the critical bias of novels and poetry over periodicals, fiction over nonfiction, remains. And while male writers such as Addison and Steele have long transcended this bias, given the unquestionably canonical status of the Spectator, still, women writers who likewise dabbled in periodical and aesthetically “higher” forms, such as Charlotte Lennox and Eliza Haywood, are predominantly taught and written about in terms of their fictional works: the Female Quixote and Fantomina remain favored over the Lady’s Museum and the Female Spectator. The first comprehensive study of women’s periodicals in Britain in the long eighteenth century did not appear until 2018 (Jennie Batchelor and Manushag N. Powell’s Women’s Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1690-1820s: The Long Eighteenth Century). Thus, only in the past four years has a comprehensive study of eighteenth-century women’s magazines and periodicals existed. This panel seeks papers that supply a further basis for including certain, previously overlooked periodicals by/about women into the literary canon; that demonstrate the importance of previously overlooked periodicals to women as writers or readers; and/or that illuminate the previously obscured roles women writers played in developing the periodicals that played an integral role in shaping eighteenth-century British culture.