Happy 214th Birthday, Margaret Fuller!


Let’s honor Margaret Fuller’s 214th birthday (May 23, 2024) by celebrating intellectual community, social reform, and the transcendent processes by which individuals grow into themselves. 

The Margaret Fuller Society encourages FB posts and listserv messages sharing your actions in these areas. AND we encourage you to donate $21.40, $42.80, $214, or any amount to the Margaret Fuller Society. Donations for the fundraiser will be used to fulfill the mission of the Society, including supporting a new Research Award (2025). We also will donate 25% from the fundraiser to the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, in recognition of their ongoing community service.

If you have questions about donations, please contact Lisa at lisa.west@drake.edu

The featured image for this post is of a pistachio cake with American buttercream frosting, decorated with a fondant magnolia flower, made by Christina Katopodis.

“Refusing Foreclosures and Endings: 19C Women Writers’ Defiance, Persistence, and Resilience” MFS-organized Roundtable at C19 in Pasadena, CA

On March 14, 2024, we gather in Pasadena at the 2024 C19 Eighth Biennial Conference for a roundtable organized by the Margaret Fuller Society on “Refusing Foreclosures and Endings: 19C Women Writers’ Defiance, Persistence, and Resilience.” We have an impressive lineup of papers. Below you will find their titles, authors, and author bios.

“Margaret Fuller and the Ends of Immigrant Inclusion” by Leslie Eckel (Suffolk University)

“Feminist Kill(ed) Joys: Woman’s Health and Feminist Resistance in The Una (1853-55)” by Alice De Galzain (University of Sussex)

“Going Beyond: Cross-cultural Literary Adventure of Rebecca Rush and Lydia H. Sigourney” by Rowshan Chowdhury (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

“Mirrored in Miranda: Margaret Fuller’s Intertextual Dialogues with Paternal Legacies and Male Discourses in ‘The Great Lawsuit'” by Manzar Feiz (University of Texas, Dallas)

“‘Still-Born Aspirations:’ Mothers of Stone in Elizabeth Stuart Phelps’s The Story of Avis” by Maddie Olley (Syracuse University)

“Defiant Friendship: Female Intersubjectivity in the 19th Century Asylum” by Elisabeth Harris (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Author Bios

2025 MLA CFP: “Imperfect Women Writers” sponsored by the Margaret Fuller Society

“Imperfect Women Writers” sponsored by the Margaret Fuller Society

Modern Language Association 2025 | January 9–12, 2025, New Orleans

In Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, the editors cite an anonymous correspondent of Fuller’s, who writes, “Margaret was one of the few persons who looked upon life as an art, and every person not merely as an artist, but as a work of art. She looked upon herself as a living statue, which should always stand on a polished pedestal, with right accessories, and under the most fitting lights. She would have been glad to have everybody so live and act. She was annoyed when they did not, and when they did not regard her from the point of view which alone did justice to her. No one could be more lenient in her judgments of those whom she saw to be living in this light. Their faults were to be held as ‘the disproportions of the ungrown giant.’ But the faults of persons who were unjustified by this ideal, were odious.”

Plenty of Fuller’s best and most sensitive readers would disagree with this appraisal. Still, it is useful for thinking about the ways readers and critics continue to render women writers works of art upon pedestals. How do we chip away at that penchant? What responsibilities do we have as critics to remove women writers from the pedestals predecessors or previous readers may have made?

How should we write and teach women writers in ways that document their flaws, failures, shadows, perceived imperfections, or positions on “wrong” sides of history?

How d0 women writers—and their readers—contend with criticism or with pressures not to speak up and out during their time?

How do censorship and/or recovery scholarship affect the ways we study women’s writing in our own difficult moment, especially amidst increasingly racist and misogynist currents within/against academia?

How should critics handle violence in nineteenth-century women’s views/voices and writing?

Submissions about Margaret Fuller are, of course, welcome, but proposals need not be limited to Fuller’s life or work. The Margaret Fuller Committee for Racial Justice encourages submissions to all panels to address anti-racist approaches to scholarship, pedagogy, and community engagement. Early career scholars are—as always—especially encouraged to apply.

Please send 250-word proposals or questions to Mollie Barnes at mbarnes2@uscb.edu with “MLA 2025 Proposal” in the subject line by March 22, 2024.

CFP for the 2024 American Literature Association (ALA) Conference

Margaret Fuller Society

American Literature Association 2024 Conference CFPs

Deadline Extended: January 22, 2024

Contact: argerj@gmail.com

The Margaret Fuller Society will sponsor two panels on relationality at the 35th Annual Conference of the American Literature Association, to be held 23–26 May 2024 at The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. Please help circulate our CFPs far and wide across your circles of shared interest.

Send 250-word proposals (indicating AV needs) that respond to the calls below, along with brief biographical statements, to Jana Argersinger, 1st Vice President, at argerj@gmail.com. Submissions from graduate students and folks in non-academic fields are very welcome.

For conference details, go to http://americanliteratureassociation.org/ala- conferences/ala-annual-conference/. To learn more about the Fuller Society, visit https://margaretfullersociety.org/.


“Matters of belonging,” to quote two theorists of affect—matters of integration and dis-integration, to echo the founder of interpersonal neurobiology—run through all branches of relationship science, a discipline with “growing coherence and influence . . . on myriad scholarly fields” in both soft and hard sciences (Annual Review of Psychology, 2017). Belonging, being in secure relation, it seems increasingly clear, is at the core of human nature. And as the 2017 report points out, “poets, novelists, and philosophers have long recognized the centrality of relationships to human existence” (383), while scientists lag behind. According to Robin Wall Kimmerer, who dances gracefully across these disciplinary boundaries, “All of our flourishing is mutual” (Braiding Sweetgrass).

Both of our ALA panels will explore this topic in relation to Margaret Fuller and other women of the nineteenth century—the second panel focusing on pedagogy.

1) “Matters of Belonging” I: Relationality and Feeling in Fuller and Other 19C Women Writers and Reformers

Margaret Fuller, the much-acclaimed intellectual and supposed loner, lived and wrote throughout her years in the ambit of relationality and feeling. Her Autobiographical Romance constricts with complex grief in remembrance of her lost father and thrums with the travails of young friendship, the sting of alienation, the joys of attunementLetters agonize over what she feels as her friend Emerson’s coldness and proclaim, “All the souls I ever loved are holy to me.” Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony speaks to her of the “tearful sweetness of the human heart.” The record of her Conversation series for women sets collaborative learning at its foundation. As a foreign correspondent and active witness to Italy’s Risorgimento, she sees “deeds of brotherhood” and a “spirit” that “cheers and animates” her own—in transatlantic relation to a “spoiled” US that may reawaken to its founding vision. And she writes, at length, with protective tenderness of her partner Giovanni Ossoli and their small son just months before drowning with them in shipwreck off Fire Island.

The Fuller Society invites ideas about these and other movements of relationality and feeling in the work of Fuller and other 19C women both within and beyond her cohort. Among an abundance of possibilities, papers could address the following:

  • Reciprocity, competition
  • Rupture, reconciliation
  • Family bonds, romantic partnership
  • Collaboration toward social justice
  • Indigenous experience
  • Lived experience of race, gender, economic condition
  • Applications of relationship science (attachment theory, interpersonal neurobiology, interdependence theory, affect theory, affection exchange theory)
  • Interpersonality in the process and products of writing
  • Collective experience of art, music, literature
  • Community storytelling
  • Autobiography in relation
  • Aesthetics/matters of form
  • Relationship with other-than-human beings
  • Health/well-being
  • Surprising/non-traditional kinships and alliances
  • Intellectual relation
  • Hierarchies, lateral relation
  • Varieties of feeling in relation:
    • feeling in common with others as fomenting collaboration/revolution
    • feeling the body-in-transcendence
    • feeling as fact/knowledge
    • affect (feeling before cognition)
    • feeling as in physical sensation
    • feeling and spirituality

2) “Matters of Belonging” II: Learning and Teaching in Relation—Fuller’s Conversations and Beyond

What do Fuller (in her Conversations, journalism, varied reform projects) and other women educators of her era suggest to us about modes of relationality and feeling in our efforts to teach and learn together, both inside and outside the classroom?

Potential points of contact:

  • Feeling as medium and/or content of learning
  • Building community in the learning environment
  • Learning collectively, challenging hierarchies
  • Conversation as an often-neglected learning outcome—and as urgent civic education
  • Perspective of grad student teachers
  • Public humanities
  • Social justice pedagogy
  • Restorative justice practices, including circle work
  • Community engagement and service learning
  • Learning venues outside the traditional classroom (for example: prisons, websites, museums, nature centers)
  • Marginalized populations reclaiming their stories
  • Mentoring
  • Autobiographical elements
  • Role of technology
  • Fertile challenges and problems

CFP: Margaret Fuller, Women in the 19C, and Resilience

Panel for the Thoreau Gathering in Concord, MA, July 10-14, 2024

Margaret Fuller both overcame odds and recognized the virtue of resilience in others. “Resilience” is the theme of this year’s Thoreau Gathering, and the organizers suggest four categories for considering this strength: ecological, cultural/political, personal/spiritual, and legacy. With some major differences from Thoreau, these same categories are helpful with Fuller, and in our annual contribution to the Gathering we invite presentations approaching her and likeminded women writers in her circles that also draw on one of these kinds of resilience.

–Ecological: any particular encounter by Fuller with nature in the U.S. or Europe, expressed in prose or poetry; interpretation of the American West as a scene of new energy for settlers and/or possible defeat for Native Americans in Summer on the Lakes.

–Cultural/political: Fuller’s self-education in response to gendered limits placed on institutional schooling; leadership of Conversations as a result of this learning or lesson to women in attendance; any particular mythic or historic example of resilience in Conversations or Woman in the Nineteenth Century; encounters with new social realities in New York City or Europe; possibilities of victory beyond defeat in the Italian Revolution.

–Personal/spiritual: reflections on her experience of mourning and its overcoming; the burdens of a daughter in her family; illness and health; love lost and gained; the search for vocation in a gender-constricted world; religious doubts and epiphanies; personal belief as expressed in published or personal writing.

–Legacy: Fuller’s presence and power of inspiration in the nineteenth-century women’s rights movement or the circles around her; recovery in the 1960s and since as a voice within contemporary feminism or the canon of Transcendentalism. Examples of the costs of resilience or survival might also be considered. Comparison of Fuller with another writer in her circle, or personal statements of her value for one’s own resilience, are also welcome. Early career scholars and graduate students are especially encouraged to apply, and inquiries are encouraged by any applicant.

Proposals are due by December 8, 2023—please send to Phyllis Cole (pbc2 [at] psu [ dot] edu) and Christina Katopodis (katopodis [dot] christina [at] gmail [dot] com).

CFP for C19: “Refusing Foreclosures and Endings: 19C Women Writers’ Defiance, Persistence, and Resilience” (Pasadena, CA)

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 than 250 words that engage with Fuller and/or other 19C women writers (American and otherwise) as well as the conference theme—”The End.” Papers might consider the following topics, among numerous possibilities:

  • untimely ends 
  • refusing endings
  • playing with traditional narrative or poetic endings
  • various means to—or around—an end
  • reform efforts as well as their imperfections and limits
  • failed revolutions
  • critiques of “resilience,” as theorized and applied
  • finishing schools or crossing finish lines
  • finishing as orgasm
  • abortion, broadly conceived
  • ways around, through, or under seemingly insuperable barriers—including structural racism
  • ways in which this new generation of students and faculty are challenging us to change the ends or goals of American literature syllabi

Early career scholars are especially encouraged to apply. Please send proposals and questions via this form by August 26.

Join us at MLA 2024 for a Social Justice Pedagogy Panel on “Mutual Transformation”

The Margaret Fuller Society is sponsoring a panel on “Mutual Transformation: The Social Justice Classroom in the Nineteenth Century and Today,” organized by the MFS Racial Justice Committee. The presider for the panel will be Dr. Christina Katopodis (City University of New York), co-author with Cathy N. Davidson of The New College Classroom (Harvard UP, 2022). We have an exciting lineup of panel presentations:

“From Self-Reliance to Self-Care: Transcendentalism and Social Justice in the Classroom,” Jess Libow (Haverford C) 

“Breath-taking Pedagogy and the Practice of Hope: Course Design and Teaching a BLM Literature Course,” Shermaine Jones (Virginia Commonwealth U)

“Fuller-Inspired Conversations on School Curriculum Battles and Wheatley-Linked Public Humanities,” Sarah Ruffing Robbins (TCU)

“A Mind Afire: Marie Duclos Fretageot and a Forgotten Frontier of American Progressive Education,” Diane Baia Hale (Independent Scholar) 

Featured image via Hidden City

Happy Birthday, Margaret Fuller! A Fundraiser

Happy Birthday Margaret!

Please join us in celebrating Margaret’s 213th Birthday!

We would like to celebrate together the enduring and strengthening presence of Margaret Fuller in our lives!

And, thanks to our baker extraordinaire, Christina Katopodis, we have a most beautiful (virtual, alas!) cake inspired by Fuller’s short story, “Magnolia of Lake Pontchartrain,” to do so.

For Margaret’s birthday please consider a donation to support the projects we deeply care about.

As you know, we just inaugurated our first award (the Margaret Fuller Society Awards for Racial Justice, won by Jess Libow), and your help will raise funds to support Margaret Fuller’s Neighborhood House, the MFS Award for Racial Justice, and more financial aid for early career scholars.

Gifts of all sizes are deeply appreciated, with a special preference for Fuller’s birth date, in the amount of $21.30 or its multiples ($213) and other combinations!

Please enjoy this Margaret Fuller Society bookmark. You can print it out and use it right away.

Thank you!

Pistachio cake with American Buttercream frosting, baked and designed by Christina Katopodis

MFS at the 2023 Thoreau Society Annual Gathering in Concord, MA

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.

The conference theme is “Thoreau and the Politics of Extinction.” You can register for the conference here.

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.

Join us in Boston for ALA!

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.