Schipper, W(ilhelmina) J(anneke) J(osepha) 1938-
SCHIPPER, W(ilhelmina) J(anneke) J(osepha) 1938-
PERSONAL: Born December 6, 1938, in Polsbroek, Netherlands; daughter of Arie and Josepha Johanna (Wesseldijk) de Leeuw; married Jan Schipper (a historian), July 10, 1964; children: Gideon Leonard Victor, Jan-Jeroen Youdi. Education: Amsterdam Free University, M.A. (French), 1964, Ph.D., 1973; University of Utrecht, M.A. (comparative literature), 1969.
ADDRESSES: Home—Bovenkerkerkade 29A, 1185 CR Amstelveen, Netherlands. Office—Leiden University, Department of Literary Theory and Comparative Literature, P.O. Box 9515, 2300 RA, Leiden, Netherlands. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Universite Nationale du Zaire, lecturer in arts, 1964-68, 1970-72; Amsterdam Free University and Leiden University, senior lecturer, then professor of intercultural studies and comparative literature, 1977—. Visiting lecturer at universities and conferences in Ibadan, Nairobi, Dakar, and Harare. Freelance writer and radio program maker, 1972-76. Leiden University, chair of Intercultural Literary Studies and head of the Department of Literary Theory and Comparative Literature; head of research program, Intercultural Study of Literature and Society.
MEMBER: Netherlands PEN Centre (international secretary, 1976-82), Association pour l'Etude des litteratures africaines (board member, 1984), African Literature Association, International Comparative Literature Association, African Studies Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: VanCoeverden Adriani Stichting grant, 1963; Tesselschade Fonds, 1964; research grants from Royal Academy of Science (KNAW), Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Scientific Research (NWO), and Scientific Research in Tropical Areas (WOTRO); Rockefeller grant.
Le Blanc et l'Occident au miroir du roman negro-africain de langue francaise, Van Gorcum (Assen, Netherlands), 1973.
Le Blanc vu d'Afrique, Editions CLE (Yaounde, Cameroun), 1973.
Text and Context in Africa: Methodological Explorations in the Field of African Literature, Afrika-Studiecentrum (Leiden, Netherlands), 1977.
Toneel en maatschappij in Afrika, Van Gorcum (Assen, Netherlands), 1977, translated as Theatre and Society in Africa, Ravan Press (Johannesburg, South Africa), 1982.
Realisme: De illusie van werkelijkheid in literatuur, Van Gorcum (Assen, Netherlands), 1979.
De tovertam en andere oude verhalen uit Zaire, C. Zelen (Maasbree), 1979.
Het zwarte paradijs: Afrikaanse scheppingsmythen, C. Zelen (Maasbree), 1980.
Afrikaanse letterkunde: Tradities, genres, auteurs en ontwikkelingen in de literatuur van Afrika ten zuiden van de Sahara, Het Spectrum (Utrecht, Netherlands), 1983, Ambo (Baarn, Netherlands), 1990.
Theatre et Societe en Afrique Dakar/Abidjan/Lome, 1984.
(Editor) Ongehoorde worden: Vrouwen en literatuur in Afrika, Aziee en Latijns-Amerika, Het Wereldvenster (Weesp, Netherlands), 1984, translated as Un-heard Words: Women and Literature in Africa, the Arab World, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America, Allison & Busby (London, England), 1985.
Beyond the Boundaries: African Literature and Literary Theory, Allison & Busby (London, England), 1989, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1990.
(As W. J. J. Schipper; with W. L. Idema and H. M. Leyten) White and Black: Imagination and Cultural Confrontations, Royal Tropical Institute (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1990.
(With Peter Schmitz) Ik is anders: Autobiografie in verschillende culturen, Ambo (Baarn, Netherlands), 1991.
(Editor) Source of All Evil: African Proverbs and Sayings on Women, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1991.
Een goede vrouw is zonder hoofd: Europese spreekwoorden en zegswijzen over vrouwen, Ambo (Baarn, Netherlands), 1993.
(With Idema, and P. H. Schrijvers) Mijn naam is Haas: dierenverhalen in verschillende culturen, Ambo (Baarn, Netherlands), 1993.
Conrads rivier (novel; title means "Conrad's River"), Contact (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1994.
Een vrouw is als de aarde: Afrikaanse spreekwoorden en zegswijzen over vrouwen, Ambo (Baarn, Netherlands), 1995.
De boomstam en de krokodil. Kwesties van ras, cultuur en wetenschap, Van Gennep, (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1995.
(With Sanjukta Gupta) Een wenkbrauw als een wilgenblad. Aziatische spreekwoorden en zegswijzen over vrouwen, Ambo (Baarn, Netherlands), 1995.
(With W. L. Idema and P. H. Schrijvers) Bezweren en betoveren: Magie en literatuur wereldwijd, Ambo (Baarn, Netherlands), 1995.
(With Sabine Cohn) De rib uit zijn lijf: Joodse spreekwoorden en zegswijzen over vrouwen (title means "The Rib from His Body: Jewish Proverbs and Sayings about Women"), Ambo (Baarn, Netherlands), 1996.
De zieleneters (title means "The Soul Eaters"), Contact (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1998.
Imagining Insiders: Africa and the Question of Belonging, Cassell (New York, NY), 1999.
Also contributor to numerous anthologies and journals, including African Literature Today, Bzzlletin, Theatre Research International, World Literature Written in English, New Literary History, and Research in African Literatures.
SIDELIGHTS: A noted scholar of African literature and intercultural studies, Dutch educator and author W. J. J. Schipper, also known as Mineke Schipper, has published several books that analyze and illustrate the variety of oral and written works generated on that continent, as well as other parts of the world. Unheard Words: Women and Literature in Africa, the Arab World, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America, which Schipper edited in 1984, showcases such literary versatility for English readers by dividing Third World writing by women into five regional groups. The book includes proverbs, essays, and interviews with writers such as novelists Astrid Roemer and Miriam Tlali and Lebanese poet Etel Adnan. "The importance of Un-heard Words," noted Susheila Nasta in the Times Literary Supplement, "lies in the fact that it places the problem of the oppression of women writers in specific cultural and historic contexts." A contributor to the Times Educational Supplement praised Unheard Words as "informative," and a writer in Library Journal noted its "broad overview of Third World women and literature."
Schipper's 1989 study, Beyond the Boundaries: African Literature and Literary Theory, is a "coherent and challenging" study, according to J. F. Povey, writing in Choice. Her book deals with the problem of evaluating African literature by using a Western or Euro-centered critical framework. Povey further found the book to be an "intelligent discussion." Richard Taylor, however, reviewing the work in the ModernLanguage Review, found that the "intellectual level of the discussion is rather basic and the style employed throughout is unfortunately reminiscent of a textbook."
Source of All Evil: African Proverbs and Sayings on Women, which was published in 1991, is a collection of more than six hundred proverbs and maxims that Schipper collected from Africa's sub-Sahara region. "Woman is the source of all evil; only our soul saves us from the harm she does," warns the Benin motto from which Schipper takes the title of her work, and her feminist-inspired focus throughout is to catalogue such similar misogynistic expressions. Praising the work as "well-researched and authenticated," Charlotte H. Bruner noted in Callaloo that in Source of All Evil the author "finds that society's powerful, those who write or permit certain views to be voiced, promote their own generally macho and masculine perspectives…. Schipper defends those 'invisible' women whom society mutes." D. Westley, writing in Choice, observed that Schipper "organizes her collection by theme," and went on to praise her "thoughtful" introduction.
Schipper considers her time working and lecturing at universities throughout the continent of Africa important, "because," as she once commented, "one then becomes conscious of the fact that the West is not necessarily the (only) centre of the world." Schipper speaks and writes numerous languages, including French, German, English, Kiswahili, and her native Dutch. In addition to numerous works of literary criticism, she is also the author of two novels published in the Netherlands, Conrads rivier, in 1994 and De zieleneters in 1998.
More African themes are sounded in Imagining Insiders: Africa and the Question of Belonging, a work that "builds" on both Beyond the Boundaries and Source of All Evil, according to B. Harlow in Choice. Cultural stereotyping is at the heart of this study, a book that demonstrates a "combination of erudition, personal experience, and close readings," as Harlow further observed. Similarly, Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi, writing in Research in African Literature, thought that the book reads at three different levels: "autobiographical, retrospective, and prospective." In the work, Schipper investigates the insider-outsider question and ultimately "reverses the subject position and decenters the West" from the investigation of African literature, according to Mudimbe-Boyi. Schipper also deals with the thorny academic issue of who should teach African literatures and cultures. "If the question is relevant," commented Mudimbe-Boyi, "then Schipper's book is essential for the questioning and the interrogations it carries."
In her 2004 study, Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from around the World, Schipper takes a look at the similarities and differences in global views of gender as seen in the proverbs of 150 countries. In this work, Schipper blends literary analysis with cross-cultural study, much as she did in her 1991 Source of All Evil: African Proverbs and Sayings on Women.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Callaloo, fall, 1992, Charlotte H. Bruner, review of Source of All Evil: African Proverbs and Sayings on Women, pp. 1085-1086.
Choice, February, 1991, J. F. Povey, review of Beyond the Boundaries: African Literature and Literary Theory; February, 1992, D. Westley, review of Source of All Evil; June, 2000, B. Harlow, review of Imagining Insiders: Africa and the Question of Belonging, p. 1809.
Library Journal, December, 1985, review of Unheard Words: Women and Literature in Africa, the Arab World, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America, p. 111.
Modern Language Review, October, 1992, Richard Taylor, review of Beyond the Boundaries, pp. 961-965.
Research in African Literature, winter, 2000, Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi, review of Imagining Insiders, p. 175.
Times Educational Supplement, March 28, 1986, review of Unheard Words, p. 22.
Times Literary Supplement, November 29, 1985, Susheila Nasta, review of Unheard Words, p. 1374.
Universiteit Leiden, Leidse Wetenschappers, Web site, http://leidsewetenschappers.leidenuniv.nl/ (February 13, 2004).