Mineke Schipper, born in Polsbroek/Vlist, the Netherlands, in 1938. Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam. Professor of Intercultural Literary Studies at Leiden University.
Fellow (1 September 2000 – 30 June 2001)
Before I came to NIAS, I had already collected, a corpus of more than 15000 proverbs on womankind. As announced in my proposal, the original plan was to have a complete and usable database of the material right from the beginning of my stay at NIAS. However, initially there were some technical difficulties, which were gradually solved, thanks to NIAS technical assistance. My plan was to write a monograph in English about proverbs on women from all over the world, and throughout the year I fully concentrated on the writing of this book. Indeed I finished the first draft of a book of about 250-300 pages, about human universals, proverbs and their impact, discussing proverbs related to the female body and woman’s phases of life, from girls to wives and co-wives; from mothers to mothers-in-law, grandmothers and old age. I will have to reread all the chapters, write conclusions and add anthologies, notes on geographies, sources, and bibliography, etc.
As the material appeared to be very rich, I had to adapt my plans: I had not previously noticed, for example, that so many proverbs focussed on parts of female body; I therefore needed to insert an, unplanned, extra chapter on this subject. It turned out that I constantly came across more aspects that required attention than I had anticipated. Therefore, there is enough material to write a second book of, again, about 300 pages on the various elements of woman’s life, such as beauty, love, sex, pregnancy, work, violence, witchcraft, etc. I was able to finish some aspects for this second book as well, for example, “Beauty” (which was also discussed in the NIAS Newsletter), and “Knowledge, witchcraft and other powers”.
This summer I will have to discuss with both my English and Dutch publishers whether they would prefer to publish the two volumes together in one book (in my opinion 600 pages is not a very practical size), or separately as two books.