NUI Galway Exhibition on Early Modern Women’s Writing

Jan 08 2020 Posted: 15:46 GMT

NUI Galway will launch a new exhibition, ‘Readers and Reputations: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700’, on Thursday, 16 January, at 5pm in the University’s Hardiman Research Building.

The exhibition showcases the findings of a major research project, ‘RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700’, led by Professor Marie-Louise Coolahan, Professor of English at NUI Galway. The project began in July 2014 and formally concludes in January 2020.

This was the first literature project in Ireland to have been awarded funding by the European Research Council, and has involved 11 researchers over the course of its five years. The exhibition shows how women were read both in their own time and posthumously – as powerful queens, controversial exhibitionists, exemplary mothers and autobiographers, pioneering scientists, and witnesses to religious persecution. It includes anonymous poems that challenge our assumptions about gendered voice and authorship.

Professor Coolahan said: “Given the huge interest in recovering women writers, scientists and pioneers from history we wanted to investigate the impact made by such women, and on a large scale. Who was reading them? How far did their writings circulate and how did they gain wider traction? What we’ve found ranges from testimonies of persecution and martyrdom that were translated across Europe as Counter-Reformation polemic, to the exchange of medicines and political ideas, as well as many readers who adapted poems by women in their own manuscripts, and bibliophiles who collected female-authored books. Perhaps most importantly, it’s clear that there is far more material out there than we could locate and analyse within the five-year period of the project. In all, we’ve found 4,845 receptions of female authors and their works, by 678 identified people, in 1,431 different sources. The online database storing these results will be publicly released in early 2020.”

The exhibition  is sponsored by the Irish Research Council and is free of charge and will run until Friday, 27 March. For more information on the research project follow @RECIRC_ on Twitter or visit


Marketing and Communications Office


Featured Stories