N.B. These posts will be backlogged for awhile, since I started collecting them several weeks ago in Paris. But ideally the delay will allow me to catch up and start posting notes from the reading I do back in Minneapolis.
* * *
My first morsel from the archive is actually from an Austrian journal article I was able to read at the BnF (Blumesberger, see below). It’s an analysis of youth periodicals by an author publishing in the early 19th c., Antonia Wutka, someone I’ve also studied. The article offered some biographical details I hadn’t known before about her experiences growing up in an orphanage. For example, Wutka apparently taught herself how to read and write French by studying secretly at night (without a textbook). I think it’s an especially poignant image from the life of someone who really treasured learning communities and later devoted her life to teaching, writing, and promoting girls’ education.
On a lighter note, Blumesberger claims that this secret nocturnal study meant that Wutka couldn’t actually speak a word of French until she met some French people later in life who helped perfect her accent. Reading this on my first day in Paris last month, it gave me a welcome glimmer of hope for my own clunky French!
* * *
source: Susanne Blumesberger, “Antonie Wutkas Encyclopädie für die weibliche Jugend: Ein Beitrag zum Jugendschriftum des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts,” Biblos: Beiträge zu Buch, Bibliothek und Schrift 50, no. 1 (2001): 23-34.