The Margaret Fuller Society seeks to form a panel for the March 2024 C19 conference in Pasadena, CA: “Refusing Foreclosures and Endings: 19C Women Writers’ Defiance, Persistence, and Resilience.” We invite abstracts of no more… More
This summer the Margaret Fuller Society is sponsoring a panel, “Margaret Fuller: Westward to the Lakes, Eastward to Europe,” at the 82nd Thoreau Society Annual Gathering in Concord, MA. Phyllis Blum Cole will be chairing the panel.
Below offers you a preview of the panel’s papers. We hope to see you in Concord!
Albena Bakratcheva (New Bulgarian University) will be presenting “‘Wherever the Hog Comes, the Rattlesnake Disappears,’ or ‘Sic Transit Gloria Ruris’: Fuller and Thoreau on Civilization and/as Extinction.” In her Summer on the Lakes in 1843 Margaret Fuller regretfully foresaw that the settlers’ “mode of civilization will, in the course of twenty, perhaps ten, years, obliterate the natural expression of the country.” Such would be Henry Thoreau’s concern ever since (if not even before) he set off to Walden Pond in 1845; year after year this concern would only intensify, with Thoreau witnessing how “the wild fruit of the earth disappear before civilization” and “the whole country becomes a town or beaten common,” as noted in the 1858 Journal. Both authors considered the tendency of our civilization inevitable. This paper will focus on the proto-environmental thinking/awareness indicated by Margaret Fuller’s Summer on the Lakes (her only work of the kind) and will try to envision such direction of discourse as suggesting (and itself providing) a certain immediate intellectual/literary context in which Thoreau’s own environmental imagination will very shortly thrive and triumph.
In “Margaret Fuller’s Radical Optimism: Westward to the Mexican-American War, Eastward to the Italian Revolution” Christina Katopodis (Transformative Learning in the Humanities, City University of New York) considers connections between Fuller’s response to the Mexican-American War and the Italian Revolution, looking especially at her letters from 1846-1850, as well as her commentary on abolitionists such as her 1845 review of Frederick Douglass’ Narrative. Katopodis frames Fuller’s more political writings within the context of her radical optimism, revisiting arguments about Fuller as a democratic theorist made by Charles Capper and David M. Robinson. Katopodis argues that Fuller’s radical optimism shaped the political movement that was American Transcendentalism, pushing her contemporaries further in the direction of social justice as the movement’s ultimate goal. Moreover, today, we stand to learn from Fuller’s radical optimism—optimism as a choice one must make daily in the face of adversity and oppression, a kind of early American pragmatism that is inherently activist in nature, as Katopodis contends.
Gerard Holmes (University of Maryland) in “George Sand’s Consuelo Novels and Margaret Fuller’s Improvised Work-Life” argues that Fuller’s adoption of a wandering, and ultimately revolutionary, persona as she traveled across Europe is informed by her reading of George Sand’s 1841 novel Consuelo and its 1843 sequel La Comtesse de Rudolstadt, and by meeting Sand in 1847. Long out of print in English and dismissed by English-language critics by the end of the nineteenth century, Consuelo was profoundly important to New England writers even before its first American translation in 1845. Fuller read the two novels in French, and discussed them in a January 1845 essay about contemporary French fiction. She then reviewed Consuelo in translation twice, first during its serial publication in the Brook Farm-produced periodical The Harbinger, in 1845, and when published by the prestigious Boston firm William Ticknor and Co. the next year. In the 1846 review, Fuller called Sand “the best living French writer, and in some respects the best living prose writer.” Consuelo was deemed important by Fuller and the Brook Farmers not only artistically, but also in promoting associationist social reform. Fuller wrote in 1846 that the “great influence” of Consuelo would be in recording “some of the mystical apparitions and attempts to solve some of the problems of the time.”
In her presentation on “Heroes, Legends, and Sex: Narrative Structure in Fuller’s Sumer on the Lakes,” Megan Spring (Florida Atlantic University) will argue that traditional narrative structure is inherently phallic, mimicking the sexual experience of a heterosexual man while Fuller’s narrative structure in Summer on the Lakes is reminiscent of the female orgasm. Through this argument, Spring analyzes Fuller’s unsystematic style in Summer, most often a point of contention for many literary scholars and a reason why she isn’t better known. Thus, Spring asserts that through Fuller’s narrative structure in Summer, she subverts an inherently patriarchal America by asserting an American cultural identity specifically for women in the 19th century prior to her most famous work, Woman in the Nineteenth Century.
The Margaret Fuller Society is pleased to announce we are sponsoring two exciting panels at this year’s American Literature Association conference in Boston, MA. Both panels will take place on Saturday, May 27, 2023.
Foundations for the “World at Large”: Women Authors and Their Homes I (Chair: Jana Argersinger) [Session 18-E at 1:00pm – 2:20pm]
Phyllis Cole, “The Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House: Our Author’s Birthplace as a Social Service Center”
Anna De Biasio, “A Crowded House: Family Ties, Independence, and Authorship in L. M. Alcott”
Jan Turnquist, “Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House—Where Creativity, Hope, and Inspiration Abide”
Jennifer Daly, “(Re)Claiming Women’s Intellectual Space: Elizabeth Palmer Peabody’s Book Room”
Katherine Lynes, “‘a policeman he wanted me / to behave’: Gardens and Home in Black Ecopoetics”
Foundations for the “World at Large”: Women Authors and Their Homes II (Chair: Sonia Di Loreto) [Session 19-F at 2:30pm – 3:50pm]
Marco Sioli, “Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s House and the Women's Rights National Historical Park at Seneca Falls, N.Y.”
Ariel Silver, “‘The Center of the Rebellion’: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Her New York Homes”
Divya Nair, “168 Brattle St., Swami Vivekananda, and Sara Chapman Bull’s Cambridge Conferences”
Summer Hamilton, “Locating the Discursive Impetus behind June Jordan’s Construction of Home in Soldier”
Annika Berry, “maybe I could be @home: Untangling the Archive of S. Paige Baty (1961-1997)”
A Margaret Fuller Society business meeting will be held on the same day at 5:30pm.
You can register for the conference here.
Image via Wikimedia.
Deadline for Submissions: March 1, 2023
The Margaret Fuller Society will sponsor a panel at the 2024 Modern Language Association Convention in Philadelphia, to be held 4-7 January 2024. Please send 250-word proposals (indicating AV needs), along with brief biographical statements, to Jana Argersinger, First Vice President, at email@example.com. Submissions from graduate students are most welcome.
For conference details, click here (opens in new window).
Mutual Transformation: The Social Justice Classroom in the Nineteenth Century and Today
The Fuller Society’s Committee for Racial Justice invites paper proposals on social justice pedagogies past and present—from approaches developed in early schoolhouses to the strategies of teacher-scholars in today’s classrooms. The panel especially invites proposals that connect theory and practices of antiracist pedagogy so named to earlier theories and practices that have been labeled progressive, feminist, queer, social justice, or active learning. It is important to remember these progressive pedagogies as we work to transform American literary studies and make the university more equitable and just in support of social change.
Rather than dictating or lecturing in her 1839–1844 Boston Conversations, Margaret Fuller led open dialogues among women meant to empower them to think for themselves, practicing an early form of social justice pedagogy. Her purpose was to discover “what we [she and her pupils] may mutually mean.” Today, her forward-thinking feminist methods resonate with the progressive pedagogies of June Jordan and Felicia Rose Chavez, among others. Her model of “mutual meaning,” or co-learning, whereby participants arrive at conclusions through an open-ended process of self-discovery, anticipates Maria Montessori and John Dewey. But it is often forgotten that Fuller’s Conversations were themselves anticipated by conversational pedagogies in such associations for mutual “improvement” as the African-American Female Intelligence Society of Boston and the Female Literary Association of Philadelphia, where Sarah Douglass recommended that the group reading, conversation, and writing “be altogether directed to the subject of slavery.”
Much of today’s higher education descends from the nineteenth century—not from progressive educators but from the industrial revolution and eugenicists who made the modern university a training ground for factory workers through the passive “banking model” of education (in Paulo Freire’s terms). Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis, in their recent book The New College Classroom (Harvard UP, 2022), argue for the crucial role that active learning plays in structuring equity into our classrooms, going beyond inclusion to antiracist praxis. This panel takes up the book’s invitation to change by uplifting progressive pedagogues and calling for presentations that seek to transform us.
- Literary representations of learning
- Literary products of progressive or radical pedagogy
- Early historical examples of social justice pedagogies (e.g., African American literary associations, Boston Conversations, Hull House)
- Antiracist teaching, including course and/or assignment design inspired by Fuller (or her limitations) or by contemporary writing that helps us to be in dialogue with her
- Women’s education and issues of race
- Black Panther Party Liberation Schools
- Talks to teachers (e.g., William James, James Baldwin)
- Teaching diaries (e.g., Audre Lorde’s)
- Progressive pedagogical theories (from Elizabeth Peabody to Maria Montessori to bell hooks) put into practice
- Practical examples of lessons learned from the antiracist classroom
- Specific activities that have been particularly effective in structuring equity into a class
- Trauma-informed pedagogies of care
- Culturally responsive teaching methods
Note that while we, of course, welcome proposals that engage with Fuller’s work, Fuller need not be included for your proposal to be considered.
In early January 2023, we gathered in San Francisco for the MLA convention where the Margaret Fuller Society sponsored a panel on Conditions of Exile in the Nineteenth-Century and Beyond. (Read the original call for papers here.)
Dr. Christina Katopodis presided the panel, which included papers by Marlas Yvonne Whitley, who is a graduate student at North Carolina State University; Sabrina Evans is an ABD PhD candidate in the English and African American and Diaspora Studies Dual-Title Program at Penn State University; Thomas W. Howard, who is a Ph.D. candidate in English and American Literature at Washington University in St. Louis; and Dr. Stephanie Peebles Tavera, who is Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M University–Central Texas.
In her presentation on “Trying to Transcend: Black Escape and Transnation from The Colored Conventions to the Harlem Renaissance,” Whitley worked toward a rhetorical and aesthetic genealogy of Black transcendence of racism and white supremacy, and what it means to theorize such a concept as we continue necessary conversations on racism and anti-Blackness in the U.S. (Read the full paper abstract here.)
Evans, focusing primarily on Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells in “Exile and the Perils of Travel: The Challenges Behind Nineteenth-Century Black Women Organizers’ Fight for Dignity,” argued that in exploring the tensions between their public activism, the perils of travel, and exile within their published and private writings, Black women organizers challenged and redefined what dignity meant for Black women. (Read the full abstract here.)
In “Du Bois in Berlin, Du Bois in Atlanta: The Affect of Exile in The Souls of Black Folk,” Howard examined Du Bois’s later writings and influences from Germany and Ghana, showing that Du Bois does not simply reveal international influences, but rather he writes from within the tradition of the
German aphorism (Aphorismus), especially within his passage on “double-consciousness.” His
unique vision as an African American returning from Germany thus allows him to see how
African spiritual traditions co-create “American culture” alongside the white “other world.” (Read the full abstract here.)
Dr. Tavera in “Exile’s Persistence: Margaret Fuller and the Public Trauma Culture of Expat Paris” located the evolution of a public trauma culture in the traditions of women’s travel writings, especially those of Margaret Fuller who served as a foreign correspondent and hospital volunteer during the Risorgimento (circa 1847-49). Dr. Tavera showed that just as Fuller re-formed American audiences’ perceptions of Italy from an arcadian landscape to a site of Republican values using wartime trauma as an opportunity for grieving, women writers of high modernism re-formed audiences’ perceptions of Paris as the site of a decade-long soiree where anything goes in the wake of a grieving postwar generation. Women writers of high modernism capitalized on the transatlantic tradition of turning grief into grievance against a culture that refused to reconcile with difference. (Read the full abstract here.)
The papers encouraged us to see the self-determination and individualism in American Transcendentalism(s) as reliant on collectivity, collaboration, and friendship, being in conversation. Discussion included parallels drawn between the AME church and Unitarian communities; exile as relief and as a self-constructed place or self-determined location; the environment as an internal reality (James Baldwin); William Jamesian stream of consciousness as a movement between individual thought to collective thinking and back; and tenderness with ourselves and with others in public trauma narratives.
Deadline for Submissions: 10 January 2023
The Margaret Fuller Society will sponsor two panels at the 34th Annual Conference of the American Literature Association, to be held 25–28 May 2023 at The Westin Copley Place in Boston. Please send 250-word proposals (indicating AV needs), along with brief biographical statements, to Jana Argersinger, First Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions from graduate students are most welcome.
For conference details, click here (opens in new window).
Foundations for the “World at Large”: Women Authors and Their Homes
“No home can be healthful in which are not cherished seeds of good for the world at large.”— Margaret Fuller, New-York Tribune, 12 December 1844
The Fuller Society invites ideas for a panel that will explore the historic residences of female US authors and leaders of thought. Our author’s childhood home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has for 120 years served as a neighborhood center that provides empowering community services (https://margaretfullerhouse.org/), a mission in close keeping with Fuller’s own commitments—and one that also invites us to study how her contemporaries and inheritors have worked toward antiracist justice in ways her writing only begins to imagine.
What, we would like to ask, are the possible meanings and uses of the former dwelling places of women authors and intellectuals—whether maintained as museums, recognized with historic markers or street names, preserved as National Historic Landmarks and run as active public institutions like the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, held in private ownership, or still standing only in text and memory? How does lack of property rights for married women and people of color in the nineteenth century bear on the matter? What of indigenous and enslaved or formerly enslaved writers for whom habitation could be troubled, impermanent, or simply modeled on a different—non-Western—concept of home?
We welcome proposals from folks associated in any way with an author’s house in any region of the US: directors and staff of houses themselves, members of societies that honor the authors who lived there—or who left only textual traces of home—and others with scholarly interest in the subject. Scholars and society members might team up with house representatives for joint presentations. Indeed, as part of our antiracist work, the Fuller Society is learning how to partner with other author societies and institutions that honor the legacies of nineteenth-century women intellectuals and reformers. Houses of interest include those of Anna Julia Cooper, Charlotte Forten Grimke, Louisa May Alcott, Frances E. W. Harper, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson, Jane Addams, Sarah Orne Jewett, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Laura Ingalls Wilder—and of course Margaret Fuller—among numerous others.
- the public-facing work undertaken by historic author houses, and its relation, if any, to the work of the author
- factors influencing whether an author’s house is preserved as such or not
- the work of recovering houses and places associated with women intellectuals, in relation to literary scholarship
- the meanings of home to writers for whom experiences of residence are troubled
- archaeological recoveries associated with enslaved women’s homes or places of refuge
- threats to home and neighborhood (e.g., Africatown, Alabama, and its preservation foundation)
- the diversity of forms that habitation can take, and how that can inform, enable, or inhibit writers’ work (e.g., boardinghouses, shelters, asylums, orphanages)
- personal places of residence memorialized in authors’ texts, whether treated autobiographically or fictionally
Original image was contributed to Wikimedia Commons by Boston Public Library as part of a cooperation project. The donation was facilitated by the Digital Public Library of America, via its partner Digital Commonwealth. DPLA identifier: 11f2d8aa0c9e86a401387524f30f986aBoston Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98785749
Teaching to Racial Justice with Margaret Fuller
The Committee on Racial Justice welcomes entries that:
–outline a syllabus including writing by Margaret Fuller and explain how Fuller’s work fits into the semester’s aims, including support of racial justice.
–describe a classroom activity or series of exercises that use Fuller’s writing to teach to issues of racial justice.
–detail a paper assignment that focuses on racial justice and engages Fuller’s writing.
–plan a community project that addresses racial justice and Fuller’s writing.
–propose a nontraditional pedagogical approach to racial justice issues through Fuller’s writing.
We especially encourage entries that engage critical race theory. We welcome submissions from both members and non-members of the Society and urge graduate students to consider submitting.
Submissions should be limited to one page.
The winning submission, as judged by the Society’s Committee on Racial Justice, will receive a small monetary award and publication in Conversations, the newsletter of the Margaret Fuller Society. The award will be presented at the annual conference of the American Literature Association.
Send submissions to email@example.com. Deadline: 10 April 2023
This post was written by Contributing Author and MFS Past President Phyllis Cole.
The Margaret Fuller Society contributed a panel with the title “Where in the World is Margaret Fuller?” to the Annual Gathering of the Henry David Thoreau Society in Concord, Massachusetts on Thursday, July 7, 2022. For several years we have been broadening the Annual Gathering’s previously exclusive focus on Thoreau by offering, along with the Emerson and Alcott Societies, an array of presentations on Transcendentalist and Concord-based authors. Always we have contributed to the Thoreauvian theme of the year, which this year was “Globalism.” What better perspective than this on Fuller, whose reading, life travels, and influence were always international? We might truly ask “where in the world” we want to locate her.
It has been my pleasure as a member of the Thoreau Society Board of Directors to plan this dimension of the Gathering program and to moderate the 2022 Fuller panel. I was particularly delighted that the papers proposed found such different angles on the broad topic. We had Fuller reading female-inflected German Romanticism in one paper, negotiating the difficulties of trans-Atlantic letter-writing in a second, sustaining friendship with an Italian noblewoman of opposing political belief in a third, and finally making her belated appearance in today’s China. At the same time some common themes emerged in these papers: epistolary expression, friendship between women, translation as vital work from Fuller’s day to our own. The members of our panel themselves range in background across national boundaries. You can read their full paper abstracts and bios here.
Alice de Galzain, doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh, began the session with her paper “Woman [and] Artist”: Margaret Fuller on Bettine Brentano-von Arnim and Friendship.” Fuller taught herself German, then used it to read Bettine’s epistolary novel, translate the text into English, and interpret its meaning to Dial readers. De Galzain claims these cross-lingual acts as “feminist agency,” especially as they contribute to Fuller’s celebration of gender-defining women’s friendship, proceeding from within the soul and extending outward.
Cheryl Weaver, doctoral candidate at the University at Buffalo, approached epistolary expression in terms of problematic conveyance as well as content, in “I found your note here several days since”: Margaret Fuller and Postal Delivery from Europe. Fuller’s 1846 voyage to Europe came in the midst of American developments of both the postage stamp and the penny post, so that access to letter exchange boomed. But mail across the Atlantic was both more expensive and more problematic, as Fuller reveals in her private letters over the two years following.
Letters and their reports of conversation serve as evidence in Mario Bannoni’s paper, The Opposing Political Passions and Common Womanly Positions of Margaret Fuller and Costanza Arconati Visconti on the Eve of the Italian Risorgimento. Communication between Fuller and Arconati was a linguistic challenge: at first neither spoke the other’s language with confidence, so that they wrote to each other in French. And this was only the beginning of their difference, which also encompassed social status, religion, and position on the needed transformation of Italy. Nonetheless the two mutually defined a friendship ascending from inward soul to womanly bonding.
Close correspondence and friendship between Fuller and China never took place, but Julia Xianju Du explores cultural contact then and now in Margaret Fuller in China. Despite the Chinatown growing up in Boston (not far from the Peabody Bookstore), her contact with Chinese culture was limited to reading and quoting of Confucius. Even this, however, shows the power of translation as a trans-global resource of her time. In twenty-first century China there is growing interest in Fuller’s place among American Transcendentalists and advocates of women’s rights, with master’s theses about her on the rise. But translation of her actual writings is work still needed.
Read the full abstracts for the presentations here.
This workshop, hosted by Associate Professor Shan Gao (Soochow University), aims at examining why American transcendentalism and Chinese religions such as Confucianism, Daoism and Zen Buddhism all find spirituality in nature, and how their interpretation of nature generates great difference on people’s aesthetic perception of agricultural land, gardens and wilderness.
The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2022.
The workshop will take place on October 24, 2022.
Read the full call for papers below.
The Margaret Fuller Society is calling for paper proposals for MLA 2023 in San Francisco, CA.
Conditions of Exile in the Nineteenth-Century and Beyond
What forms have the experience and idea of exile taken for U.S.-affiliated writers and intellectuals in the nineteenth century through the present? Can exile engender gain and growth, along with pain and loss? For whom, and under what conditions? The examples of Frederick Douglass and Margaret Fuller suggest a complex range of possibility and constraint: Douglass, as an orator, writer, activist, and formerly enslaved person living in the North—and temporarily a “triumphant exile” (in Peter Ripley’s words), who considered making his successful tour of Britain permanent after the publication of Narrative endangered his freedom in the U.S. And Fuller, as a free, white foreign correspondent for the New-York Tribune in revolutionary Italy, who at times referred to the Roman Republic as “my country” and “my home,” briefly shared exile with the Italian nobleman she loved, and inspired Emerson to call her “our citizen of the world by quite special diploma.”
Possible topics and approaches:
– exile and citizenship
– racial justice and citizen rights
– labor and exile
– activism, reform work, anti-racist projects
– integration, alienation, cosmopolitanism
– displacement and colonization
– mobility and immobility
– exile and travel (forced vs. chosen)
– self-imposed exile and questions of agency
– exile as a state of feeling
– linguistic implications (multilingualism, translation)
– historical examples and contemporary formulations
– representations in fiction, (auto)biography, letters, diaries, and more
– concepts of allegiance
– constructions of home and community
– avenues for publication
– quarantine and immigration
– immigrant/expat writing as Black critique (for example, Anna Julia Cooper, Claude McKay, James Baldwin)
– border crossings and escape
Please send 200-word abstracts to Jana Argersinger at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 15.
This post was written by contributing author Dr. Christina Katopodis, who also presided on the panel.
On Sunday, January 9, 2022, the Margaret Fuller Society’s Ad Hoc Committee on Racial Justice hosted a virtual session at MLA 2022 on “Mattering in the Nineteenth Century and Beyond: Transcendentalisms, Racism, and Repair in the United States.” It was such a pleasure to moderate this round table discussion and to listen to exciting and even groundbreaking scholarship in the field. Read the paper abstracts and full bios for the panelists here.
Delivering a paper on “Transcendentalists and the Black Atlantic,” Dr. Katie Simon started us off with her discussion of Ralph Waldo Emerson and whiteness studies. Dr. Simon focused especially on how Gilroy’s work on the Black Atlantic shakes up geographical stuckness in New England, pointing to the mass genocide of the transatlantic slave trade fueling national and global commerce, and goods sold in the “free” states made and grown by enslaved people.
Doctoral candidate Jessica Elkaim addressed Walt Whitman’s unreconciled racism, his problematic blindness to bodily difference and the corpsification of bodies in his writings in her presentation on “Whitman and the Republic of the Dead,” developed from a chapter in her dissertation at the University of Toronto in which she analyzes representations of corpses in nineteenth-century American writings.
Next, Andrea Walton of Illinois Central College traced the long genealogy of the Mammy stereotype from black face minstrelsy, Billy Kersand’s “Old Aunt Jemima,” Drysdale’s “Old Chloe” in Scenes in Georgia (1827) and more, to transvestite Mammy and asexual Mammy stereotypes. Her presentation on “Aunt Jemima: A Mascot for African American Femininity” tied this racist history to white complacency and tolerance and the systemic racism embedded in corporate America which continues to capitalize on racist stereotypes to sell products like pancake syrup.
Dr. Ben Bascom in “Empire of Smell: Douglass, Thoreau, and Queer Fungibility” called to our senses the smell of the Fitchburg railroad and the body of the author — Henry David Thoreau — who recalls readers to their own bodies through olfactory description. Dr. Bascom reminds us that when we smell we are taken over by otherness — the nose is an aperture that doesn’t close, much like the ears. His attention to the body reminded us of the humanity of these historical authors as well as how smell was racialized in the nineteenth century.
In “Miss Peabody’s Racism,” Dr. Mark Gallagher underlined the point that nineteenth-century antislavery efforts were not equivalent to actually calling for racial equality; in fact, some antislavery writings reinforced white superiority. His presentation illuminated the white supremacy embedded in Elizabeth Peabody’s writings (she was, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, late to abolitionism), particularly in her conception of the spiritual body. Dr. Gallagher argued that Transcendentalism can reinforce racism by not acknowledging the spiritual nature of nonwhite bodies.
PhD candidate Jacob Walters concluded the panel with his presentation on “Dark Vistas: Circles, Sketches, and The Penumbra of the Future in the Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois.” In his discussion of Du Bois’s megascope, his talk brought to center stage the “constellation of tensions” in the lives of all the authors and figures discussed in the session. In thinking of Du Bois’s double consciousness, unknowing, reorienting one’s viewing, and trying to find humanist universality through the fragments and glimpses of real lives, we all were reminded of the humanity of these authors, their uncertainties, their sometimes contradictory traits juxtaposed, and how they recall us to our own humanity as scholars and people in the world.
These authors were not perfect. They had bodies that smelled, opinions that changed, some ideas worth keeping and others worth critically reevaluating and problematizing. If we’re willing to treat them as complex and changing, they can help us to reflect on our common struggles, fight for equality, and resistance to injustice today.