Meet the Fellows: 2018 Women’s Studies Fellow Miranda Marraccini

The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies is the only national dissertation award for doctoral work on issues of women and gender. The 2018 Fellows include Miranda Marraccini, a Ph.D. candidate in English at Princeton University. The award will support Miranda’s final year writing her dissertation, titled Feminist Types: Reading the Victoria Press.

Miranda shares how she came upon her research:

I discovered my dissertation topic two times, in two ways. The first time, I spotted an archival box wedged between two volumes in the anthology section of the library, three floors underground. Of course, I had to open the mysterious box. I found inside a ragged but still opulently gilded book, which told me right on its title page that it was printed at the “Victoria Press (for the Employment of Women.)”

The second time was online through a digital repository of women’s writing. Encyclopedia entries about female poets kept linking me back to the Victoria Press, a nineteenth-century printing house founded to help women break into the male-dominated industry. Both of these initial approaches, analog and digital, have informed everything I’ve worked on since. I want to dig deep in the analog archives and make digital connections. I want to recover communities of women who were editors and advocates, who fought for women’s rights in their lives and in their writing.

I love that these activists saw poetry as a part of their mission—poetry that didn’t lie flat, but spoke out of the page to readers, urging them to take action. As one Victoria Press poet puts it: “If thou art strong, and others weak, / Thine be the effort and the deed.” They knew literature could be a powerful tool to “kindle other minds” for their cause. Encouraged by the nineteenth-century women I study, as well as trailblazing female professors, I view my research as part of a broader cause of advocacy for gender equality and inclusivity in academia. I hope to use my academic career to engage in feminist scholarship, including promoting the inclusion of women’s work in digital archives and editions.


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