Donawerth, Nelson, and Seeff Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

November 7, 2014

Jane Donawerth (Professor of English), Karen Nelson (Associate Director of the Center for Literary & Comparative Studies), and Adele Seeff (retired Director of the Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies) received Lifetime Achievement Awards for their scholarship and service for the study of early modern women.

Karen Nelson, Adele Seeff, Jane Donawerth, in New Orleans, October 2014 
Karen Nelson, Adele Sefff & Jane Donawerth, October 2014 

The three were honored at the twentieth-anniversary meeting of the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women at the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference in New Orleans on October 18, 2014. Professor Donawerth and Dr. Seeff were also recognized for their role as Founding Mothers in the field of early modern women’s studies.

All three contributed to and sustained a conference series, a professional society, a publication series, and a journal:

♣    Conference Series: Beginning in 1990, Seeff and Donawerth were part of the planning committee that organized Attending to Early Modern Women. Joined initially by Virginia Beauchamp (UMD, English, emerita), the interdisciplinary conference convened at the University of Maryland every three years until 2009. To support the second iteration of that conference in 1994, Dr. Seeff and Prof. Donawerth garnered a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Nelson joined the project in 1999 and served as a liaison between the “Attending” planning committee and the Society until 2010. Lauded for its “energy and scholarly depth” (E. Hageman, 1996), conferences were organized around three thematic topics and a fourth concentrating upon pedagogies. Panels framed the exploration, and interdisciplinary participatory workshops focused upon research questions rather than research findings.

♣    Professional Society: Prof. Donawerth and Dr. Seeff helped fashion the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women at the 1994 Attending Conference. Donawerth served as its first Vice President and then Treasurer, and Dr. Nelson managed the website from 2002 to 2012; she has maintained its listserv list since 1998. The Society held its annual meeting, in Attending years, at the symposium.

♣    Conference proceedings: Especially throughout the 1990s, the Attending conference proceedings volume series served as a crucial means to disseminate research, document newly-recovered women’s writings, and share essential resources for teaching. Since these volumes included summaries of participatory workshops, many emergent scholars gleaned their first publications. Dr. Seeff served as series editor and co-edited the first seven volumes, one with Prof. Donawerth. Dr. Nelson co-edited the eighth and edited the ninth.  Other publications emerged from the conferences as well. Prof. Donawerth and Dr. Nelson also coedited Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain (2000) along with  Mary Burke and Linda Dove; that collection won the Society’s Collaborative Research Project award in 2000.

♣    Journal: In 2004, Prof. Donawerth and Dr. Seeff founded Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal, with Dr. Nelson serving as book review editor; volume one appeared in 2006. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies assumed responsibility for publication in 2007. Diane Wolfthal (Art History, Rice University) joined as editor in 2007. The journal has won two Council of Editors of Learned Journals awards and was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement on 29 October 2014; the reviewer Elizabeth Scott-Baumann praised its original editors’ “commitment to ‘conversations across disciplines, geographies, and generations.’”

Furthermore, Prof. Donawerth has received awards from the Society for her translation with a former Maryland PhD, Julie Strongson, of selections of Madeleine de Scudery's rhetoric dialogues and letters, as well as an article on Margaret Fell; she has also published books on Shakespeare, on women’s science fiction, and on women's rhetorical theory from 1600 to 1900. Currently, she is co-editing, with another former Maryland PhD Rebecca Lush, selections from Margaret Fell for the Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series. She is a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland.

In addition to publications in the Attending series, Dr. Nelson has contributed articles, bibliographies, reviews, and biographical entries on Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and early modern women writers to essay collections and such journals as Sixteenth Century Studies and Renaissance Quarterly. She serves on the editorial board of Renaissance Quarterly, is a disciplinary representative for English Literature, and continues to contribute to the electronic community that grew out of Re-mapping the Renaissance: Exchange between Early Modern Islam and Europe: A National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, held at the University of Maryland in 2010, for which she, Dr. Seeff, and Judith Tucker (History, Georgetown University) were primary investigators.

Dr. Seeff’s research focuses on Shakespeare studies, performance history, Shakespeare adaptation, gender, and South Africa. She directed the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies from 1986 to 2010, during which time she oversaw countless projects that helped teachers of Maryland more effectively integrate technology and the arts into their curriculum and incorporate Renaissance topics, especially Shakespeare, into their classrooms; garnered numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (including a $1.6 million challenge grant to estabilsh MITH in 1998) the Maryland State Department of Education, and private foundations; and facilitated research and intellectual exchange among faculty, staff, and students in the humanities at the University.