The Elizabeths

The Elizabeths is an in-progress work of fiction shaped somewhere between a collection of short stories and a series of prose-poems. It currently follows four women – each living in the early 17th century, each named Elizabeth, each a historian of elemental stuff – and in the course of that following it introduces pieces of their work in the histories of liquid, wind, flame, or burial. The project began as a brief offering contributed to a May 21 2015 gathering at Princeton that was devoted to an experiment in “conjectural historiography”: imagining and memorializing historians who never existed, but should have. My contribution to this collective performance took the form of a memorial to four women, all inspired by medical cases from The Casebooks Project, and all devoted to histories of and with basic material stuff. (You can see those first breaths of the project in the “Conjectures” series at The Public Domain Review.  A story from the project also recently appeared in a piece in the PMLA on fictioning and the historian’s craft.) During the 2018-2019 academic year, I am working on turning these stories into a book, and in the meantime you can find many of them at the project website. Check back for updates!

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