Scribbling Women: UVU exhibits the lives of nineteenth century female writers and abolitionists

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Regan Tall | Staff Writer | [email protected]

UVU English students have put together an exhibition on women writers of the early nineteenth century through the civil war. The exhibit is called Scribbling Women and is on display in the George Sutherland archives (third floor of the library) through April 24. The exhibit is open to all from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At the beginning of the Scribbling Women class students were split into groups and asked to pick a female writer of their choosing, they then researched them in the library archives. Students had the opportunity to sift through private archival collections as well as digital. Throughout the process, the students were able to write biographies and discover intimate views and insights into these writers’ lives. Rare photos were found along with letters. Some of what the students discovered hasn’t been seen before by the public. Among these unseen treasures include letters from Margaret Fuller written in her characteristic cross writing style.

“Scribbling women” comes from a comment Nathaniel Hawthorne made about women writers diminishing his odds for success because they weren’t taking the work seriously enough and were “too sentimental.” The seminar enabled students to rediscover these ignored writers and to present them to other students the way they should have always been presented.

“Many of these writers were hugely popular and often outsold male writers.” said Todd Goddard, associate professor in English and literature. “Harriett Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which is the best-selling novel of all time. But because their style of writing was different from the men, these women writers and their works were dismissed and undervalued. That is changing now.”

All of the students’ research is now on display and truly pays homage to these underappreciated writers. The exhibit provides a look into these “scribbling womens’” lives through the use of interactive panels and displays. The viewer gets to explore a different time through biographies, letters, maps, photographs and many first edition books.

“The students did a wonderful job,” said Catherine McIntyre, archives librarian. “They worked really hard.”