Documents in Women’s History
Revue Women’s History (été 2017), avant le 1er juin 2016

Women’s History, special issue (summer 2017).

Edited by Marie Ruiz (Université Paris Diderot, LARCA) and Mélanie Grué (Université Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne, IMAGER)

Historians face a difficult task when dealing with historical documents, testimonials revealing or concealing “truth.” As objects of enquiry, documents, sometimes limited in what they can disclose, have very often resisted historians’ intentions to show “reality.” This is even more vivid in the context of women’s history, a subjected topic that has undergone invisibility through male domination. In “Policing Truth” (1994), Leigh Gilmore argues that the notion of truth is intertwined with the notion of gender: man is a judge who has historically defined the rules and standards of truth in order to perpetuate patriarchal authority and male privilege.

Barbara Kanner’s work of bibliomethodology, Women in English Social History, 1800-1914: A Guide to Research (1988), has been a major contribution to unveiling the existence of documents informing the participation of women in all fields of British history. This special issue of Women’s History intends to address the subjectivity of historical documents, and the place left to women in the course of history. It gives a special place to historical evidence and iconic documents revealing women’s resistance to patriarchal rule, whether in history, photography, film, or artistic representations. This volume focuses on the nature of historical documentation and its gender bias. It intends to address the question of subjectivity in women’s history.

The articles that will constitute this special issue shall focus on what documents have shown about women. The role of historians, witnesses, artists and writers shall also be included, as well as questions related to reality and objectivity in women’s history. Contributions dealing with women as producers of documents are welcome. As an oppressed group, women have indeed seized the opportunity to write their personal and collective history on their own terms, to document their lives and claim their worth against the patriarchal rule. They have produced a wide array of documents, from text to image and film, revealing the reality of female experience.

The question of perception and reception is also of interest as it determines what documents tell us about women’s ability to find a place in history through their disruption of dominant cultures.

Proposals dealing with what documents can reveal about women’s personal and collective history are welcome. They may include the following themes, though not exclusively:

– absence in historical records/scarcity of references

– art as historical document

– bibliomethodology

– difference in documents’ treatment

– documentary and oral record

– document and memory

– documentary evidence

– documents’ archiving and classification

– documents’ mislabelling

– historical representations of women in the arts

– women’s historic artistic productions as sites of identity claims

– iconic documents

– immediate archive

– journalism/mass information

– manipulation/selection

– objectivity/subjectivity

– official records

– production and intention

– subaltern documents

– visibility/invisibility

– women in aesthetic movements

– women’s speeches and speeches about women

– documenting the past, documenting the present

– the reception and interpretation of documents

– relationship between producer/writer and spectator/reader

5000-word articles, along with short academic biographies, should be submitted to both editors:  and The deadline for submission of articles is June 1, 2016.