From left to right: Dr. Amy Clements, St. Edward’s University; Kayleigh Voss, Hartlyn Haynes, Adrienne Sockwell, and Kristen Wilson, Ransom Center Reference GRAs. Photo by Pete Smith.
by HARTLYN HAYNES, ADRIENNE SOCKWELL, KAYLEIGH VOSS, and KRISTEN WILSON
The Ransom Center hosted the annual Modernist Archives Publishing Project two-day workshop on June 6 and 7, 2022 with the first day geared toward partner libraries and the second day open to the public.
MAPP is a digital humanities project dedicated to re-centering book publishers in the study of Modernist literature. The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP) provides access to an ever-growing catalog of publishers’ correspondence and ephemera, as well as copies of Modernist works from several library partners, including the Harry Ransom Center.
The “Feminist Infrastructures: Women in Transatlantic Publishing, 1900-50” public workshop consisted of a series of presentations and panel discussions exploring the contributions of women to transatlantic Modernist publishing. A group of Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) delved into the Ransom Center’s robust collections to create metadata and digital facsimiles for MAPP’s website.
GRA Kristen Wilson joined MAPP members on a panel to discuss her contributions to the project. Along with other GRAs, Hartlyn Haynes, Adrienne Sockwell, and Kayleigh Voss, Wilson also participated in a panel to explain the group’s work on behalf of the Center to help accomplish MAPP’s goals. They also discussed the collections most relevant to those goals and a related exhibit they created at the Center.
The Center’s MAPP partnership began in 2015 and focused primarily on works by Rainer Maria Rilke, Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf, and other Modernist luminaries. A second phase of the partnership focused on metadata related to works in the Hogarth Press & William A. Bradley Literary Agency correspondence, and a third phase revolved around metadata associated with Blanche Knopf correspondence. The metadata was created for MAPP’s website and will be universally accessible to researchers.
Entitled, Shall I get it?: Women in Modernist Transatlantic Publishing, the exhibit display brings together items from eight collections that bear witness to the work of women in publishing in the Modernist era. The title of the exhibit comes from a letter written by Blanche Knopf, wife and business partner of Alfred A. Knopf, where she asks Alfred about a manuscript: “Shall I get it?” Whether she was truly asking permission or casually inquiring after Alfred’s opinion, this question captured for us the subtle, almost sly sense of authority Blanche and other women yielded on the literary scene. That letter, as well as the rest of the documents included, serve as evidence of women’s endeavors to build major literary institutions, run and publish their own magazines, and select and edit volumes of collected literature.
Women represented include Blanche Knopf, the president of Knopf Publishing, Jenny Serruys Bradley, co-founder of the William A. Bradley Literary Agency, Idella Purnell Stone, publisher of Palms magazine, Marguerite Caetani, publisher of Commerce and Botteghe Oscure literary journals, Alice Corbin Henderson, associate editor of Poetry magazine, and Allanah Harper, publisher of the quarterly review Échanges.
Through the work of these women, Modernist writers such as Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce, among many others—were published in North America and Europe for a broad and developing international readership.
The display is located the Center’s second floor, just outside of the reading room, and will remain up through the month of June. The goal is for visitors to see it and be inspired to conduct further research on the topics associated with women and publishing, a line of inquiry that the Center’s collections are uniquely positioned to support. As the MAPP project continues, the Center will contribute more metadata from collections relevant to the Hogarth Press and Modernist publishing circles, highlighting the roles women played throughout the creative process in the literary world.
Through the Center’s continued partnership with MAPP, the GRAs will continue to make the Center’s collections legible and accessible to any and all researchers, showing the depth of the collection and the ability to tell previously unacknowledged stories. Voss will attend the Modernist Studies Association conference in Portland, Oregon, Oct. 27-30, 2022 to present about the Center’s contributions to this project. And, through a MAPP partner exchange program, Helena Clarkson, MAPP project archivist from the University of Reading in the U.K., will work at the Ransom Center through the month of June, with a Ransom Center staff member traveling to that university at a future date.