The Elizabeths is a work-in-progress of fiction shaped somewhere between a collection of short stories and a series of prose-poems and written and imagined by Carla Nappi. 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 fragments of their 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.

Each of the Elizabeths has her own page where you can find two things: (1) the story of her life and work unfolding in a series of chapters, and (2) a selection of the histories that she might have written. To read about her life, click on the links to chapter names. To read her histories, click on the images below the chapters. Updates to both of these are added semi-regularly, with announcements of new content posted on my personal website. Each of the stories will eventually be voiced in a recording, and soundfiles of these readings are gradually being added to the site.

The more you read, the more you’ll notice qualities particular to each of the Elizabeths. (Rively’s histories tend to be preoccupied with death and metamorphosis, for example. Sanders tends toward the sensual. Turvey’s histories are perhaps the most passionate and explosive.)

You can find a piece of the project in the “Conjectures” series at Public Domain Review, by heading over here. Thanks for reading!

-Carla Nappi, July 2016 (Vancouver, BC)