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Eckerle Receives Imagine Fund Award for Women’s Writing Project

Posted by Cassie Hall ’13, Brookings, South Dakota on Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2013

Julie Eckerle, associate professor of English, has received a 2013 Imagine Fund Award for her project “Women’s Letters in Trinity College’s Archbishop King Collection.” She hopes both to publish an article based on this research and incorporate it in her next book project, tentatively titled Early Modern Women’s Life Writing in the Irish Context.

Eckerle began looking at the correspondence of Archbishop William King in Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland in the summer of 2012. The pieces in this collection date from the late 17th and early 18th centuries and include at least 150 letters written to King by women. According to Eckerle, these letters vary to some degree: some “are trivial notes, most are requests for help or advice, and some describe troubles the writers have encountered.”

“Through this material I learn how early modern women represented themselves and how they approached others for help,” says Eckerle. “A lot of flattery goes into the letters, as you might expect. They applied to the Archbishop on many matters, asking for money, help in legal suits, spiritual advice, even appointments within the church for their relatives.”

For Eckerle, examining the letters serves as a way into a larger project on early modern women’s life writing—the recording of self through written forms such as autobiography, memoir, diaries, letters, email, and blogs—in an Irish context. These letters are a facet in the larger picture of early modern women writing in Ireland during a period of political complexity.

“Early modern Ireland was under colonial rule by the English. There were English settlers, some of whom served as colonial administrators and often had their wives and families with them in Ireland. I want to better understand how women responded to the colonial context, both English and Irish women.”

Eckerle plans to use the funding from her Imagine Award to finance further research trips to Dublin. She hopes to spend the upcoming summer researching Archbishop King and plans to return to the archives for another examination of the letters in summer 2014.

This project is supported by generous funding from the University of Minnesota’s Imagine Fund Awards and University of Minnesota, Morris's Faculty Research Enhancement Fund.

Editor’s note: Eckerle’s recent book on life writings by early modern Englishwomen, Romancing the Self in Early Modern Englishwomen's Life Writing, was released by Ashgate in June 2013.