'Women Making Books' exhibit opens at University of Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- “It really is a range of women’s experiences as reflected in book objects,” said Andy Stauffer, the co-curator of the “Women Making Books” exhibition.
Inside the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia, “Women Making Books” is the newest exhibition people can admire.
This collection comprises 23 items, dating from 1773 to 2021, and English professor Andy Stauffer says that a collection like this celebrates all the hard work women have done to be respected in the writing world.
“We have such a wide-ranging and historically deep collection of American books primarily, and this was a great way to show off some of those items,” said Stauffer.
Women were involved in all aspects of creating a book, and the curators of the exhibit want people to ask themselves questions about women with control, such as “What would it look like if women had control over every aspect of their book, with their name attached to it?” Most of the time, women had to hide who they truly were in order to be published.
“I think it’s worth acknowledging how women, for various reasons, are marginalized, in addition to their gender, and they’re not just breaking through a glass ceiling, but are building a new structure entirely,” said Annyston Pennington, a UVA doctoral student and co-curator of the exhibition.
From a 2021 UVA Alumna’s work of creating stories by using blocks, to 1800s scrapbooks, Phillis Wheatley’s first book, and even decorative books featuring pressed flowers and woven hair, there is a message everyone can take away from these pieces.
"I think the big takeaway is that writing is more complicated than we imagined. We really approached this by asking what does it mean to write a book? And you can do a lot of different things like binding, recycling, altering, designing, editing. These are women making books and being writers in ways we wouldn't necessarily think of as writing," added Stauffer.
The “Women Making Books” exhibit is open until June 10, when UVA will be hosting the British Women Writers Conference, to celebrate the liberties women took to get to where writers are today.