19th-Century Women Writers and Archives

Image is an original illustration of the panelists by Jojo Karlin.

At the remote 2021 MLA Annual Convention, and the Margaret Fuller Society is hosted a roundtable on “19th-Century Women Writers and Archives,” presided by Margaret Fuller Society President Sonia Di Loreto. The panel fulfilled its promise to showcase the ongoing work of several scholars undertaking archival research to tell the stories of lesser known women writers and women musicians as well as the exciting digitization projects of several scholars working to publish women’s writing for the general public online.

Women mentioned included Julia Ward Howe, Lydia Maria Child, Edna Dow Cheney, Maria Zakrzewska, Susan Dimock, Caroline Healy Dall, Jane Austen, Mary Elizabeth Lucy, Margaret Fuller, Caroline Sturgis Tappan, and Catharine Maria Sedgwick, among others.

Click on the links below to read the full paper abstracts.

“The Margaret Fuller Society Archive,” Charlene Avallone, Margaret Fuller Society Immediate Past President, Independent Scholar [abstract]

“Digitizing Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing Using Manifold,” Christina Katopodis, Margaret Fuller Society Advisory Board and Website Manager, The Graduate Center, CUNY [abstract]

“What Nineteenth-Century Women’s Music Collections Can Show Us,” Elizabeth Weybright, The Graduate Center, CUNY [abstract]

“Arcadia in the Archives: The Utopian Imagination of Margaret Fuller’s Conversationalists,” Ariel Silver, Columbus Ohio Institute of Religion [abstract]

“Transcendental Women Losing Their Religion,” David Faflik, University of Rhode Island [abstract]

“Persistence: From the Archives to the Digital Edition–Catharine Maria Sedgwick Online Letters Project,” Lucinda Damon-Bach and Alyssa Carrizales, Salem State University

Get to Know Our Immediate Past President, Charlene Avallone

Charlene Avallone is the Immediate Past President of the Margaret Fuller Society. As part of a new blog post series, we are taking a moment to get to know our society’s leaders and members. We thank Avallone for all her hard work on behalf of the Margaret Fuller Society and for taking a moment to answer some questions for us.

Coming from a rural working-class background in Upstate New York, Avallone earned degrees “long ago,” as she puts it, at the College of Saint Rose (BA) and SUNY Binghamton (MA, PhD, dissertation on Melville). After serving on the faculties of the universities of Hawai’i and Notre Dame, she now works as an independent scholar, alternating between Kailua, Hawai’i, where she serves as an “in-house” editor for Chip Hughes’s Surfing Detective mystery series, and Upstate, “where my heart dwells.” 

If you have receives an email from Avallone, you might have noticed she signs her emails with a proper “aloha.” If you see her at a conference, you might ask her about Hawai’i. “What members of other academic societies to which I belong ask me about most is Hawai’i,” Avallone says, “which opens up a conversation on the over-developed tourist economy, militarization of the Islands, racial dynamics, and the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.”

In the next 5 years, Avallone would like to see the Margaret Fuller Society continue to grow “in its membership, its outreach, and its embrace of critical approaches.”

What is one thing about Fuller that you most admire? “I find Fuller’s writings important because they have allowed me to address multiple vital issues in my teaching and researching of U.S. literatures and of gender studies: issues ongoing since her time of gender, race/ethnicity, class, religion, and ecology, as well as the history and methods of close reading and interpretation necessary to consideration of these complex issues.”

Share one thing you learned during the pandemic. “Pandemic restrictions allowed me to (re)learn how much joy is to be had in slowing down to appreciate diurnal routines. (Spending mornings with a two-year-old helps.)”

A Bibliography of Charlene Avallone’s Publications on Fuller:

Woman in the Nineteenth Century:  Romanticism and (Proto)feminism.” Invited essay. Handbook of American Romanticism. Eds. Philipp Löffler, Clemens Spahr, and Jan Stievermann. De Gruyter, forthcoming 2021. 

“Margaret Fuller and ‘the best living prose writer,’ George Sand: A Revisionist Account.” Invited essay.  Nineteenth-Century Prose. Special Issue on Margaret Fuller. Guest Editor: Brigitte Bailey. 42, 2 (Fall 2015). 93-124.

“Circles around George Sand:  Margaret Fuller and The Dynamics of Transnational Reception.” Margaret Fuller and Her Circles, Ed. Brigitte Bailey, Kate Viens, and Conrad E. Wright.  University Press of New England. 2012. 206-229.

“What American Renaissance? The Gendered Genealogy of a Critical Discourse.” PMLA 112, 5 (1997):  1102-1120. Reprinted in American Literature: A Sourcebook for Teachers. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. 

“The ‘Red Roots’ of White Feminism in Margaret Fuller’s Writings.” Doing Feminism: Teaching and Research in the Academy. Ed. Mary Anderson, Lisa Fine, Kathleen Geissler, and Joyce R. Ladenson. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1997.

2021 Emerson Society Call for Papers & Awards

Emerson Society at ALA 2021

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society will sponsor two panels at the 32nd Annual Conference of the American Literature Association (ALA).

“Emerson and Health”*

The Emerson Society invites proposals on the topic of ‘Emerson and Health.” Papers may consider topics such as body and mind, “health of the eye,” food, exercise, mortality, and grieving.  The Society also welcomes proposals that view the term health globally, in social, political, environmental, or cosmic terms.

“Emerson Studies Now: A Roundtable Discussion”

Over thirty years after the formation of the Society, this roundtable will be discussing the current state of Emerson studies and possible orientations for future research, teaching, and outreach to the broader public. Participants will be invited to express their views in particular concerning the proper relation between the historical Emerson and current cultural and political issues. Have these taken too large a place in the field?  Manifestoes, provocations, strong opinions, animadversions, untimely meditations or contrarian views on these and other themes relevant to the topic are most welcome. The Society seeks a frank and open discussion with the widest possible range of viewpoints.

*Graduate Student Conference Paper Award*
Provides $750 of travel support to present a paper on an Emerson Society panel at the American Literature Association Annual Conference (May 2021) or the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering (July 2021). Submit a carefully crafted 1-2-page single-spaced conference paper proposal by January 15, 2021. Proposals should address the 2021 cfp posted at emersonsociety.org.

More details about the ALA may be found here: http://americanliteratureassociation.org/ala-conferences/ala-annual-conference/

E-mail 300 word abstracts to Joseph Urbas (joseph.urbas@u-bordeaux-montaigne.fr) by March 1, 2021. Membership of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society is required of presenters.

Emerson Society at the Thoreau Annual Gathering July 2021

Deadline for submissions: February 7, 2021

The Emerson Society sponsors a panel at the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering each summer in Concord, MA (July 8-12, 2021). For information on the conference theme, please visit www.thoreausociety.org. We will consider papers both on the topic below and the conference theme more generally.

“Other Views of Emerson’s Writing and Activism”

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society invites proposals on the topic of “Other Views of Emerson’s Writing and Activism.” The Society particularly welcomes proposals that explore historical and current perspectives on Emerson in terms of gender, class, race, religion, nationality, or culture.

E-mail 300 word abstracts to Joseph Urbas (joseph.urbas@u-bordeaux-montaigne.fr) by February 7, 2021. Membership of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society is required of presenters, but not to submit an abstract.

*Graduate Student Conference Paper Award*
Provides $750 of travel support to present a paper on an Emerson Society panel at the American Literature Association Annual Conference (May 2021) or the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering (July 2021). Submit a carefully crafted 1-2-page single-spaced conference paper proposal by February 7, 2021. Proposals should address the 2021 CFPs posted at emersonsociety.org.

MFS Exec Council Endorses MLA’s Statement Deploring Racism

The Executive Council of the Margaret Fuller Society, as an affiliated society of the Modern Language Association (MLA), endorses the Association’s Statement Deploring Racism.

The MLA’s statement reads:

“The Executive Council of the Modern Language Association condemns in the strongest possible terms the wanton destruction of Black life in the United States. We deplore the horrific murders of Black people by the police and the systemic racism in police forces, in educational institutions, and throughout society. It has never been more important for educational institutions to support and expand Black and Africana studies, Latinx and ethnic studies, and Native American studies and to teach the literatures born of struggle against racist violence. During the time of pandemic, Black Americans are disproportionately at risk of illness and death because of a historical and ongoing deprivation of adequate health care. Whether Black lives are extinguished by police forces or by a broken and unjust health care system, it is clear that they are treated as dispensable lives. We call for an opposition to racism throughout society and for an understanding of the history of racism and lynching as it assumes a freshly brutal form in the present. We urge departments of language and literature to engage with the art and criticism that reflects on history and envisions another future. We call on educational institutions to renew their commitment to actively undo structures that limit access by and hinder the full participation of Black Americans and other nonwhite people at all levels. We stand in solidarity with all those who are trying to make a world of racial equality and justice. We oppose the lethal ignorance and hatred that animates racism, and we affirm educational projects that expose (and seek to overcome) the scourge of white supremacy.”

Upcoming: Margaret Fuller at MLA 2021

The 2021 MLA Annual Convention will be held online from 7 to 10 January, and the Margaret Fuller Society is hosting a roundtable on “19th-Century Women Writers and Archives,” presided by Margaret Fuller Society Vice President Sonia Di Loreto. Below is a list of speakers.

“The Margaret Fuller Society Archive,” Charlene Avallone, Margaret Fuller Society President, Independent Scholar

“Digitizing Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing Using Manifold,” Christina Katopodis, Margaret Fuller Society Website Manager, The Graduate Center, CUNY

“What Nineteenth-Century Women’s Music Collections Can Show Us,” Elizabeth Weybright, The Graduate Center, CUNY

“Arcadia in the Archives: The Utopian Imagination of Margaret Fuller’s Conversationalists,” Ariel Silver, Columbus Ohio Institute of Religion

“Transcendental Women Losing Their Religion,” David Faflik, University of Rhode Island

“‘Burning to support the Right’: The Poetic Archive of the Antislavery Cause,” Monica Pelaez, St. Cloud State University

“Persistence: From the Archives to the Digital Edition–Catharine Maria Sedgwick Online Letters Project,” Lucinda Damon-Bach, Salem Salem State University

Image via Toronto Storeys

Ralph Waldo Emerson Society Awards Deadline Extended


The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society has extended the deadline for their awards to August 28, 2020.

The Research Grant provides up to $500 to support scholarly work on Emerson. Preference is given to junior scholars and graduate students. Submit a confidential letter of recommendation, and a 1-2-page project proposal, including a description of expenses, by August 28, 2020.

The Pedagogy or Community Project Award provides up to $500 to support projects designed to bring Emerson to a non-academic audience. Submit a confidential letter of recommendation, and a 1-2-page project proposal, including a description of expenses, by August 28, 2020.

The Subvention Award provides up to $500 to support costs attending the publication of a scholarly book or article on Emerson and his circle. Submit a confidential letter of recommendation, and a 1-2-page proposal, including an abstract of the forthcoming work and a description of publication expenses, by August 28, 2020.

Please send proposals to Prentiss Clark (Prentiss [dot] Clark [at] usd [dot] edu) and Kristina West (kristina [dot] west [at] btopenworld [dot] com). Award recipients must become members of the Society; membership applications are available at http://www.emersonsociety.org.

See the full RWES Awards Announcement for 2020.

Margaret Fuller at MLA 2020 in Seattle

On Saturday, January 11, 2020, we gathered at the MLA Convention in Seattle, WA, for a panel on “Margaret Fuller’s Ecologies,” presided by Margaret Fuller Society Vice President, Jana L. Argersinger. Below is the list of presenters and their paper titles.

“The Ecological Spirituality of Margaret Fuller’s Summer on the Lakes
Lucas Nossaman, U of Tennessee, Knoxville

“Traveling West through Womanhood: Indigenous Women and the Landscape of Developmental Time in Fuller’s Summer on the Lakes
E S Dean, Rutgers U, New Brunswick

“From Genial to Daemonic: Margaret Fuller’s Early Theories of Relationality”
William Bond, Northeastern U

Abstracts are available here.


Margaret Fuller at ASLE 2019

This post was authored by Guest Contributor and Margaret Fuller Society Member Nanette Hilton.

The 2019 Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) Conference uncannily presaged the November 2018 Camp Fire which destroyed the town of Paradise, California. The unsettling “resonance” between the conference theme, “Paradise On Fire,” and the affected California host communities prompted planners to issue an October 31, 2018 explanation that “the title was intended to be metaphorical” and drew “from the long literary imagining of California as another world” (ASLE).

June 26th through 30th, 2019 conference attendees came together to mourn “the loss of life, home and habitat in that fire” as a group “dedicated to grappling with difficult, long-term and often irresolvable issues,” not just in present-day California but since the Anthropocene’s impact on the global environment. Such exigencies were familiar to Margaret Fuller who likewise struggled to make sense of challenging concerns.

For this reason, Nanette Hilton organized an ASLE panel entitled “Margaret Fuller: Preserving Paradise in the 19th Century” in which she asked how Fuller champions, appropriates, and interacts with ecology in her texts? To what end, then and now? In what ways might Fuller’s personal struggles, or the struggles of those she represents in her texts, mirror socio-ecological struggles, past and present? Is Fuller’s a universal or microcosmic ecological awareness? How does Fuller resist or cross metaphorical or literal boundaries and in what ways might this impact Earth’s environment? The panel explored how Fuller was on the vanguard of form and genre hybridization and how she championed inclusivity long before it was politically correct. The panel hoped to mine the ecocriticism of Fuller’s heterogeneous works for models of rhetorical strategy as patterns for us, nearly two centuries later, in our efforts to preserve Paradise.

The response to this call for papers gave heartening evidence that Margaret Fuller is taking a front seat in literary studies, even in environmental humanities. Ultimately, four papers were chosen to be presented, including:

  • “The Book to the Reader”: Affect and Bioregion in Summer on the Lakes, by Jake McGinnis of University of Notre Dame;
  • Amalgamation of Sensibilities: Margaret Fuller Prophesying Paradise, by Nanette Hilton of University of Nevada, Las Vegas;
  • Ecology, Difference, and Boundary-Crossing, by Emily York of James Madison University; and
  • Troubling Paradise: Racialized Violence in Margaret Fuller’s Summer on the Lakes, by Katie Simon of Georgia College.

By coincidence, all four panelists centered their papers on Fuller’s Summer on the Lakes (Summer) to create a serendipitously cohesive analysis of her text.

Jake McGinnis observed how Fuller’s personal anxieties were juxtaposed with “the environmental, social, and gender crises that shaped the frontier of 1843” and provide a “crucially important model for our own processes of working through the growing problems of American regionality—from the urban/rural political divide to brain drain and pervasive gender inequality.”

Nanette Hilton focused on Fuller’s rhetorical choices in creating a mash-up of genres thereby foregrounding what feminist theorists today term Invitational Rhetoric which advances “equality, immanent value, and self-determination” amongst actors, human and nonhuman. Hilton explicated the first two poems in Summer, providing proof that Fuller invites her readers to participate in preserving Paradise.

Emily York provided an auto-ethnographic account of her re-engagement with Fuller’s work nearly twenty years after writing her BA thesis on Fuller. She explained her “current efforts to reflexively reconsider Science and Technology Studies” with the aim to cross “boundaries of discipline and genre” to “build solidarity toward a socially and ecologically inclusive future.”

Katie Simon discussed how Fuller “encounters a landscape haunted with racialized violence” and through her “hybrid forms and textual assemblages” created a model for us to “engage with both nonhuman nature, and humans who have been ghosted from the category of the human” to “appreciate its sublime effects.”

The session enjoyed an audience of about twenty people. After the session, the panelists and their guests got better acquainted and continued their conversation over a marvelous dinner at Seasons restaurant.

In keeping with the prescient nature of ASLE’s conference theme, it was unanimously agreed that Fuller foreshadowed in Summer rhetorical strategies for confronting the ecojustice challenges we face today and prophesied a future wherein all actors have a voice in preserving Paradise.


Works Cited:

ASLE. asle.org/stay-informed/asle-news/2019-conference-call-papers/

American Literature Association (ALA) 2019 Conference Recap

This post was co-authored by Charlene Avallone, Elizabeth Dean, and Christina Katopodis. Photos courtesy of Noelle Baker, and paper abstracts provided by Sonia Di Loreto.

On Thursday, May 23rd, Margaret Fuller Society (MFS) members gathered at the American Literature Association conference in Boston. MFS President Charlene Avallone and MFS Treasurer Noelle Baker delivered papers on the “Recovering the 19th-Century Women’s Rights Movement” panel moderated by Jen McDaneld. Avallone discussed “Laura C. Bullard, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and George Sand in the Nineteenth-Century American Woman’s Movement,” and Baker presented “Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Women’s Reproductive Rights.” A vibrant discussion followed focusing especially on women’s reproductive rights then and now. MFS Website Editor Christina Katopodis presented her fold/unfold pedagogical exercise in “Unfolding Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Birthmark’” on the Hawthorne Society panel. Following the day’s panels, there was a welcome reception in Essex South and a roundtable on “The Old Corner Bookstore; or Why is the Most Important Literary Site in Boston a Fast-Food Court?”

For a more comprehensive list of MFS members who presented on panels and roundtables at ALA, see the list at the end of this post.

On Friday, Mollie Barnes of University of South Carolina Beaufort gave an engaging paper on the panel “Anonymity, Access, Absence: Challenges of Recovering Nineteenth-Century Literature,” titled “Transatlantic Recovery: How Margaret Fuller’s Lost History Teaches Us to Read,” which moved away from Fuller’s own texts to examine the development of Fuller’s mythos and legacy through periodical reports of her death.

From the session “Winged Sphinxes: MF’s Poetry and Poetics,” left to right: Ariel Silver (MFS member), Joan Wry (former MFS Board), Katie Simon, Thomas Sorensen, and Katie Kornacki (MFS newsletter editor)

The Saturday, May 25th session of the ALA conference featured well-attended back-to-back panels sponsored by the MFS. First Vice President Sonia Di Loreto chaired the first panel sponsored by the MFS, “Margaret Fuller’s Languages.” The papers focused primarily on Fuller’s prolific translation work and the ways these translations fit into her overarching intellectual projects. Board Member Fritz Fleishman presented on “Translating Fuller: The Play of Interpretation.” Brigitte Bailey of University of New Hampshire gave her paper, “Translating Urban Radicalism for the New-York Tribune: Fuller’s Readings of the Deutsche Schnell post,” which connected directly with the attention to Fuller’s interest in German language and philosophy as covered in the paper given by Christina Zwarg (Haverford College), “Glimpsing Goethe’s Corpse: Translating the Now in Fuller’s Eckermann. Chaired by Katie Kornacki, editor of “Conversations,” the panel he second panel also approached Fuller from a formal/generic angle, focusing particularly on her poetry, and was titled “Winged Sphinxes: Margaret Fuller’s Poetry and Poetics.”  The papers were “Fuller and the Flowering a Female God: Male Sacrifice and Female Transfiguration in ‘Raphael’s Deposition from the Cross’’” from Ariel Silver of Claremont Graduate University, “Portals of Transformation: Object Studies in Fuller’s 1844 Poems” by Joan Wry of Saint Michael’s College, “The Vanishing Indian in Margaret Fuller’s ‘Governor Everett Receiving the Indian Chiefs, 1837’” by Thomas Sorensen of University of Western Ontario, and “Fuller’s Hauntological Poetics” by Katie Simon of Georgia College. This panel was followed by a particularly lively conversation regarding the potential intersections of thing theory and Margaret Fuller’s poetry, particularly growing out of Silver’s and Wry’s papers. Read the full abstracts and panel CFPs here.

These two excellent panels were followed by the Margaret Fuller Society’s businesses meeting, for which full notes are available here.

Phyllis Cole (left), Past President of MFS, and Noelle Baker (right), MFS Treasurer

On Sunday morning a dozen Fullerites–Society members and guests–ended the conference by sharing brunch at Brownstone’s, billed as “a star on Boston’s vibrant culinary scene.”  Thanks to the planning of VP1 Jana Argersinger, we enjoyed good conversation over eggs Benedict and granola. Talk of Fuller ranged over the past and future, as guests included Peter Wiley, whose ancestor John Wiley published (and censored) the author, and members discussed plans and dreams for the next international conference the Society will sponsor, to be co-ordinated by Mollie Barnes. 

Margaret Fuller Society members at Sunday brunch

Many society members participated in panels and roundtables at the conference, including:

Noelle A. Baker and Sarah Connell (Women Writers Project, Northeastern University), “Mary Moody Emerson’s Almanacks and Women Writers Online: A Casebook on Collaboration”
Mollie Barnes, participant in “Round Table on Today’s Academic Job Market: Strategies and Considerations”
Phyllis Cole, participant in “The Emerson Society at 30: A Roundtable Discussion”
Lucinda Damon-Bach, “Mining Letters for Fictional Purposes”
Elizabeth Dean, “Queer(ed) Kinship and the Sketch: A Genealogy of Political Care in Child and Alcott”
Helen Deese, “The Emerson Society at 30: A Roundtable Discussion”
Len Gougeon, “The Emerson Society at 30: A Roundtable Discussion”
Daniel S. Malachuk, “Settler Colonial Studies and O Pioneers!
Joel Myerson, “The Emerson Society at 30: A Roundtable Discussion”
Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, “’Emerson Seems to Have Arrived’: The Reform Network of Mary Merrick Brooks”
Audrey Raden, “Stowe, Thoreau, and the Vanishing New England Forests”
David Robinson, “The Emerson Society at 30: A Roundtable Discussion”
Ariel Silver, “Stowe and Stanton in Conversation over the Religious Representation of the Female”
Lisa West, “Gothic, Supernatural, or Enchanted Flights in Sedgwick’s Novels”

Updating Margaret Fuller’s Wikipedia Article in an Ongoing Edit-a-Thon

This post was written by Website Manager and contributing author, Christina Katopodis.

On February 28, 2019, Wikipedians new and old, expert and novice, met at The Graduate Center, CUNY, for “Revolutionizing Wikipedia: A Queer and Feminist Edit-a-Thon,” organized by Christina Katopodis. The event was sponsored by the Futures Initiative, GC Digital Initiatives, Teaching and Learning Center, and HASTAC at The Graduate Center, CUNY, as well as Wikimedia NYC.

The idea behind the event was to support greater inclusion in Wikipedia editing both in terms of who contributes, and in terms of what topics are covered. Currently, Wikipedia contributors are overwhelmingly male—about 90 percent. Only nine percent of Wikipedia editors surveyed in 2018 by the Wikimedia Foundation identified as “female,” and only one percent identified as “other.” Who contributes has a major impact on the topics and people considered noteworthy—so join us as we expand the range of both voices and subject matter.

In the first hour of the event, Megan Wacha from Wikimedia NYC led a workshop on Wikipedia, how to edit articles, and best practices for contributing to the Wikipedia community. In case you missed it, I made a slide deck that goes over the basics to help you get started.

After the workshop, we drank coffee, ate lunch and snacks, and worked on Wikipedia articles. Katie Kornacki, who edits the Conversations newsletter with Mollie Barnes, and I realized that Caroline Sturgis, Fuller’s friend and fellow Transcendentalist, didn’t have a Wikipedia article in English so I created my first new Wikipedia article from scratch. If you have updates or additions you would like to make, please contact me directly at ckatopodis [at] gradcenter [dot] cuny [dot] edu.

rev-wikipediaMore than 20 editors participated in our edit-a-thon, editing 18 articles and creating two new ones in the last 24 hours, and adding 1.76K words to Wikipedia. A total of 116 edits have been made thus far, and we look forward to seeing the impact these editors make in Wikipedia over time. Yes, we are still editing! Even if you couldn’t make it, take a look at our slide decks, set yourself up on Wikipedia, pick a stub article, and start editing!

Using what we learned from Megan Wacha and this edit-a-thon, we continue to edit and update Margaret Fuller’s Wikipedia article. Since Wikipedia is open to public editing, crowd-sourcing information about authors like Fuller, it’s important that we continue this work. While the article was already in good shape when we started, there were some parts of it that needed updating to really reflect Margaret Fuller’s intellectual contributions (e.g., her translations of Goethe, her Conversations with a capital “C”). Take a look at the article and contribute! Or, drop me a line at the email address above for help editing Wikipedia articles.