English anthologies make it seem like Jane Austen was the only woman who published anything worth reading before the eighteenth century. But why? Blame the pride and prejudice of nineteenth century men who excluded women from the original literary canon, according to researchers at Northeastern’s Women Writers Project.
In the late nineteenth century, when English literature became a topic that was studied at the university level, faculty needed to establish a standardized collection of literature, according to Julia Flanders, a professor of practice in English and director of the Women Writers Project.
The project is redefining the canon by digitally transcribing texts written by women from the 1500s to the 1850s, which were forgotten because they were never immortalized in university libraries. Early modern English literature is still taught this way today, as if all the writers were men.