Women and other undesirables’(1): Female creative and technical labour in nineteenth-century print culture

deadline for submissions: 
January 10, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies Journal
contact email: 

‘Women and other undesirables’(1):
Female creative and technical labour in nineteenth-century print culture

A special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies edited by Jocelyn Hargrave and Megan Peiser Summer 2022

In A Woman’s Thoughts on Women (1864, p. 51), English novelist and poet Dinah Mulock Craik (1826–1887) observed that ‘in literature [women] own no such boundaries; there we meet men on level ground—and, shall I say it?—we do often beat them in their own field … Any publisher’s list, any handful of weekly or monthly periodicals, can testify to our power of entering boldly on the literary profession, and pursuing it wholly, self-devotedly, and self-reliantly, thwarted by no hardships, and content with no height short of the highest’. At best, Craik is remembered for, among other things, her defence of unmarried women and her advocacy of self-sufficiency and practical training; at worst, she was perceived by her contemporaries, such as George Eliot, as not being representative of high culture but a novel-writer whose audience was middle class (Showalter 1975, pp. 6–7). It was the growing purchasing habits of the middle class in the nineteenth century, however, that contributed to increased professional opportunities for women in the print trade (Hoagwood & Ledbetter 2005, p. 75).

We seek essays that engage with the theme of female creative and technical labour in the long nineteenth century (from the 1780s onwards). This special issue seeks to acknowledge women’s often invisible or discounted labour in the book trade in a variety of forms. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Women employed as writers, editors, proofreaders, engravers, type-makers, typesetters, binders, printers, publishers, managers
  • Annuals and periodicals for, and managed and produced by, women
  • Distribution and distribution of content by and for women
  • Queer creative and technical labour
  • Contributions of working/lower-class women—rag-pickers, herb & pigment gatherers, hand-colouring, paper-sewing, preparing raw materials for print/writing market
  • Women on and in the margins, such as women of colour
  • Collision and/or negotiation of female public and private performances
  • Women as amateurs versus women as professionals
  • Female geographies and movement
  • Subversive feminism and/or activism
  • Demasculisation of print and print culture

The deadline for submissions is 10 January 2022. Essay length is flexible, though ideally should range from 5000 to 8000 words, and should be in MLA format and include a brief biographical note.

Queries and completed essays should be directed to the co-editors of this special issue: Dr Jocelyn Hargrave (jocelyn.hargrave@unimelb.edu.au) and Dr Megan Peiser (mpeiser@oakland.edu).

Hoagwood, T. & Ledbetter, K. 2005, Colour’d Shadows: Contexts in Publishing, Printing, and Reading Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, p. 76.(^)