Blog Post

Cristina Baptista's Introduction to FSDW

Ever since I joined research in the University of Lisbon I have been interested in women writing – namely Victorian – in gender issues and, more recently, in Digital Humanities.

The University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies (ULICES)’s Group 2 (English Culture) has since a decade created opportunities for researchers to engage in exciting fields of research, namely related to ongoing masters’s dissertations and PhD thesis of its members. That’s where I fit in.

Invited in 2007 to join this group, shortly after I defend my master’s dissertation (O Encontro Colonialnas Memórias de Cornelia Sorabji (2007), not translated in English, about the colonial encounter in Cornelia Sorabji’s memoirs, I have since then been engaged in organizing conferences (The British Empire, Ideology, Perspectives, Perceptions; Empire Building and Modernity;Reviewing Imperial Conflicts; Salman Rushdie in the 21st Century: swallowing a world, and publishing (see in Amazon the volume under the title Reviewing Imperial Conflicts, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014). The two editions of the Victorians Like Us Conference, (by the way, the second one is due to take place next November) are also to be cited. And also researching, namely to write my PhD thesis (Mulheres na Sombra. Great Victorian Women Behind Great Victorian Men, viva in 2011, concerning Harriet Taylor, Emma Wedgwood and Ellen Ternan).

My engagement with the project Digital Humanities, Libraries, Schools and Social Development, in the scope of the same research group, led me to the emerging research field of Digital Humanities. The challenge of this new venture was to unite my interest in Victorian Studies, the postcolonial approach and the digital, but always focusing on Victorian women as a minority, specific cultural contexts, and their agendas. Currently, as one can perceive from the paper I will present, my work aims at finding out resemblances or ruptures concerning the Victorian women writers canon, first researched in the University of  Lisbon Faculty of Humanities Library, and then in the sites and platforms that emerged dedicated to women writing of the Victorian period.

The feedback I expect from the workshop is different from the one I usually get during conferences in Lisbon or abroad: ‘meeting’ people with the same interests and that will not ask me «What can you do that they (meaning British researchers) haven’t done yet?»; or, as often occurs, «What’s the point of research in Humanities?». In fact, I believe my perspective, coming from a southern peripheral country is a different one, and also that I can find common circumstances in Victorian women struggles and 19th century Portuguese ones, some of which still echo today.

New acquaintances – although virtual – will be welcome, with other scholars with similar research paths, which may provide exchange in a more permanent manner.

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Hi Cristina,
I enjoyed learning about your research on Victorian women writers, postcolonialism, and the Digital Humanities.

I’m especially curious about the Digital Humanities, Libraries, Schools and Social Development project. Is this an ongoing project? What were/are the core goals of this program?
Lori Beth

Hi, Lori

Glad that you are interested.

There is much to be said about the Digital Humanities, Libraries, Schools and Social Development Project, which has been ongoing for several years, engaging doctoral professors, librarians, students and post-doctoral researchers (like me). Its main goals are the bibliographical and cultural study of the collections in English of the Faculty of Humanities’ Library (University of Lisbon), namely with the discovery rare collections. Collaboration with a nearby school has happened in the past and will be hopefully repeated, as well as book exhibitions, conferences and book restoration.

My research has been around the challenges to the literary canon in this Library found in the digital (Victorian period and women writing), once the Library offers access to a great number of academic journals, e-book and databases, widening the scope of reading material. The paper I will present during the FSDW (still being edited) and that I hope will benefit from peer review, is the written result of this research.

Interesting to say is that (so far) I found out that the digital replicates the physical Library’s tradicional Victorian canon, not opening to less known or controversial authors.




Hi Cristina,
You bring up an important (and often overlooked) issue: that moving work from print into digital spaces doesn’t make these materials inherently more democratic, liberatory, gender/race-neutral, or canonized. Your example of the traditional Victorian canon perfectly illustrates this. 
I suspect this issue is of particular concern to folks working in archiving, literary studies, history, and DH. I hope you’ll be able to connect with some of these scholars through FSDW. In fact, Michelle Moravec (@ProfessMoravec) might be a good personal to connect with as well as Kimberly Hall, another FSDW participant. 
Lori Beth

Hi, Lori

As for the first part of your comment, absolutely! As I state in my paper, it is undeniable that libraries are crucial in the process of canon formation, in the sense that these are sites were choices are made, concerning policies of book acquisition and donation acceptance, and were librarians feel the pressure of space management.

But sites that include digital books or/and databases also have to make choices – thus exclusions – as they have to manage time (of their volunteer teams), and regarding what’s relevant, according to their editorial profiles.

As to the second part of the comment, thanks for the tips.