Get to Know Prof. Lisa West, MFS Financial Officer

This year, the Margaret Fuller Society (MFS) is spending time getting to know its leaders and members who live all over the world. This month we honor the work of Dr. Lisa West, who is a professor in the Department of English at Drake University.

We asked Dr. West to tell us a little about herself, and here is what she said: “As an undergrad, I majored in English but also completed an environmental studies concentration, resulting in 3 years’ work (as paralegal then Public Relations) with the EPA. I went back to grad school with the intent of linking my interest in the environment to reading and writing. My most popular course at Drake is on the Salem Witch Trials. Originally designed as a palatable way to teach colonial texts to undergrads, it has become fascinating to them and me as a window into archives, history-telling, and a variety of concepts from “truth” to “trauma.” In my first visiting professor position, I lit the English department of Santa Clara on fire. Literally. I was xeroxing materials for class and the machine was not working well. I removed my originals and went to class in another building – only to see a firetruck outside the department on my return. And it wasn’t even incendiary stuff I was teaching…”

The next time you see her you might ask Dr. West about her work in environmental humanities, including the ecogothic, environmental literature, some basics in environmental history; Catharine Maria Sedgwick; the “mound-builders” site and writings about their ruins; and how she teaches the Salem Witch Trials.

When it comes to Margaret Fuller, Dr. West says she is inspired by Fuller’s “sheer love of learning and her avid reading habits.” She continues, “I am humbled by how she paired that voracious appetite with dedication to SHARING  knowledge through conversations, translations, journalism, activism.”

In her role as Financial Officer, Dr. West keeps track of new and returning members and the society’s accounts. In addition to retaining the society’s current members, she “would like to see MFS focus on diversity of membership. I also would like to see a flexible and multi-faceted connection with the MF Neighborhood House.”

Finally, we asked Dr. West to tell us about one thing she did or learned during the pandemic that she is proud of. She responded, “My siblings and I started weekly family Zooms with each other, my Mom, and sometimes our kids. We all live in different cities, so this has been a lovely way to feel more connected to each other. I think is a Sunday night tradition we will keep.” 

We thank Dr. West for her service and leadership and for sharing her time with us. If you would like to read her work, see the citations below.


“Six Lessons in Teaching Susanna Rowson’s Sincerity through the Just Teach One Project.” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 34.1. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 2017. 

“The Nature of ‘The Flourishing Village’ in America: Prospects in Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie.” Literature in the Early American Republic. Volume 2. Brooklyn, NY: AMS Press, Inc. 2010. 

“Toward a Political Ecology in Lydia Maria Child’s ‘Chocorua’s Curse.’” Gendered Ecologies: New Materialist Interpretations of Women Writers in the Long Nineteenth Century. Eds. Dewey Hall and Jillmarie Murphy. Intro. by Stacy Alaimo. Afterward by Jane Bennett. Clemson University Press, 2020. 

“Susan Fenimore Cooper’s ‘Home Book of the Revolution’: Mount Vernon: A Letter to the Children of America, Patriotism, and Sentiment.”  Susan Fenimore Cooper: New Essays on Rural Hours and Other Works.  Eds. Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson.  Foreword by Lawrence Buell.  Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2001, pp 39-60. 

“Fragments, Ruins, and Artifacts of the Past: The Reconstruction of Reading in The Deerslayer.” Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism. Columbia, SC: Layman Poupard. Library Database. NCLC is part of the survey of criticism and world literature that is contained in Gale’s Contemporary Literary Criticism (CLC), Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (TCLC), Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800 (LC), Shakespearean Criticism (SC), and Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism (CMLC).

Web Publications 

“Onlookers, Rescuers, and a ‘Melancholy Witness,’” Just Teach OneCommon-Place: An Interactive Journal of Early American Life, American Antiquarian Society, 2019. 

Sentimental Fragments, Absence, and “Writing” Issues,”Just Teach OneCommon-Place: An Interactive Journal of Early American Life, American Antiquarian Society, 2018. 

“‘The Afric-American Picture Gallery’ Reflection,” Just Teach One African-American LiteratureCommon-Place: An Interactive Journal of Early American Life, American Antiquarian Society, 2015. 

Margaret Fuller Society at the American Literature Association Conference

Join the Margaret Fuller Society at this year’s American Literature Association hybrid conference, hosting partially in person and partially online. Read the full conference program (last updated on May 19, 2021) here, and register for the conference here. The Margaret Fuller Society has organized panels on “Women in the Nineteenth Century–Traveling, Writing, Speaking,” chaired by MFS Communications Director Leslie Eckel, and “Teaching and Practicing Feminism(s) in 2021,” chaired by MFS First Vice President Jana Argersinger.

Women in the Nineteenth Century—Traveling, Writing, Speaking, Saturday, July 10 @ 2:00-3:20 PM EST
Organized by the Margaret Fuller Society
Chair: Leslie Eckel, Suffolk University

“‘More Radical, Than Ever’: Fuller’s Voyage to Italy and the Transformative Experience of Love,” Alice de Galzain, University of Edinburgh

“’The shortest way of learning’: Knowledge, Class, and Audience in Maria Graham’s Journal of a Residence in Chile During the Year 1822,” Patricia Frick, Otterbein University

“‘Abilities and Disabilities’: Visions of Mission in Rebecca Cox Jackson’s and Caroline Crane Marsh’s Writings,” Etta Madden, Missouri State University

Teaching and Practicing Feminism(s) in 2021, Saturday, July 10 at 3:30-4:50 PM EST
Organized by the Margaret Fuller Society
Chair: Jana Argersinger, Independent scholar

“Feminist Genealogies, Feminist Pedagogies: How Fuller Teaches Us to Imagine Public Humanities in 2021,” Mollie Barnes, University of South Carolina–Beaufort

“Fourth Wave Feminism and Fuller’s ‘The Great Lawsuit,'” Amy Branam Armiento, Frostburg State University

“Silent Blight, Deadly Night: A Perfect Storm of Abuse, Neglect, and Accusation in the Works of Susan Glaspell,” Victoria Neff, Independent Scholar–Beaufort, SC

“Teaching Margaret Fuller’s Feminist Archive,” Jess Libow, Emory University

Margaret Fuller Society Business Meeting, Saturday, July 10 at 5:00-6:20 PM EST

You might also be interested in attending this panel, a pre-recorded virtual session, featuring a paper about Margaret Fuller:

Teaching Alcott: Alcott in Proximity to Other American Realists, Regionalists, Romantics, Prerecorded Session
The Louisa May Alcott Society
Moderator: Gregory Eiselein, Kansas State University

“Women in the Nineteenth Century: Revising Moods and Revisiting Margaret Fuller,” John J. Kucich, Bridgewater State University

“Teaching Alcott and Stowe: The Literary Activism of Regional Writing,” Elif Armbruster, Suffolk University

“The Possibilities of War and Death: Liminal Space in Alcott and Dickinson,” Gaynor Blandford, Berklee College of Music

“Alcott’s Proximate Circus: Class, Gender, and Race Under the Lilacs,” David Carlyon, Independent Scholar

“Sentimental Realism: Little Women, The Red Badge of Courage, and Postbellum Contexts,” Kristen Proehl, SUNY-The College at Brockport

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Join us for two exciting panels on “Woman Questions” at “Thoreau and Diversity: People, Principles, Politics”

In keeping with the overall theme, “Thoreau and Diversity: People, Principles, Politics,” this year at the 2021 Virtual Thoreau Society Annual Gathering, the Margaret Fuller Society will sponsor the first of two sessions on “Woman Questions” on Thursday evening, July 8, to be followed by the second panel in the series sponsored by the Louisa May Alcott Society the next morning. 

The lineup of papers for both sessions is exciting, and we hope you’ll join us by registering for the conference.

Woman Questions 1, Thursday, July 8 at 7 PM EST

Moderated by Megan Marshall

“Margaret Fuller’s Civil Disobedience:  A Comparison with Thoreau,” Phyllis Cole

“Margaret Fuller: Woman As Fluid—and As Solid,” Jessica Lipnack

“The Future Leader in the Movement: Mourning Margaret Fuller at the First National Women’s Rights Convention, Worcester, 1850,” Tiffany Wayne

Woman Questions 2, Friday, July 9 at 11:30 AM EST

Moderated by Wes Mott

“Louisa May Alcott’s Literary Activism: A Contemporary Reading of Hospital Sketches,” Elif Armbruster

“Evolving Concepts of Talent and Genius in the work of Louisa May Alcott,” Lauren Hehmeyer

“Coming Out of the Slough of Despond: Depression and Recovery in Work,” Karyn Valerius

Get to Know Our Second Vice President, Prof. Mollie Barnes

This year, the Margaret Fuller Society (MFS) is spending time getting to know its leaders and members who live all over the world. This month we honor the work of Dr. Mollie Barnes, who is Associate Professor of Nineteenth Century U.S. Literature at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, a teaching-intensive university committed to serving students and their families in lowcountry communities.

We asked Dr. Barnes to tell us a little about herself and she joyfully responded: “I love having my dream job and living in my dream part of the country. Half of my teaching is to students in first-year composition. Half is to English Studies majors and minors. I’m grateful for long summertime mornings and evenings to dive into writing projects that matter to me. The work that I’m most grateful to do—at my university and in our field—is supporting conversations and actions that center diversity, equity, and inclusion. I love gardening, cross-stitching, and being a cat-mom to my sweet tortie-girl named Frida.” [Frida is pictured below]

What is one thing about Fuller that you admire or find inspiring—why you gravitate to her in your scholarship or life?

Dr. Barnes: “I realize when I read Fuller with my students how surprising she is in the varieties of her passions—and in the ways she changes her mind over time. In my absolute favorite quotation, even Fuller seems surprised at the kaleidoscope qualities of her own mind and existence as she remembers herself in her childhood home: ‘I remembered how, a little child, I had stopped myself one day on the stairs, and asked, how came I here? How is it that I seem to be this Margaret Fuller? What does it mean? What shall I do about it?'”

What would you like MFS to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Dr. Barnes: “I’m happy to assist Katie Kornacki with Conversations, the newsletter for the Margaret Fuller Society. I’m also happy—now that this pandemic may be winding down—to firm up the CFP and the date and the location for Journaling for Justice. In both of these efforts, and in partnership with my colleagues who lead this organization, I’m most committed to 1) advocating for teaching and service and scholarship that centers anti-racist work and 2) strengthening Fuller’s place in conversations about innovative pedagogies and sensitive community engagement.”

What is one thing you did or learned during the pandemic that you are proud of?

Dr. Barnes: “I am learning to slow down and to savor ‘small’ things I haven’t made time to appreciate for too long. An old song I forgot I loved. An exquisite bird staring at me in my windowsill or the tree outside my office. Chartreuse embroidery floss. And hugs with friends in my bubble. Some big things too: my first house, my first publication on Fuller in print, and tenure and promotion!”


“Margaret Fuller’s Late Abolitionist Rhetoric: How She Changed Her Mind.” Nineteenth-Century American Activist Rhetorics, edited by Patricia Bizzell and Lisa Zimmerelli, MLA Press, 2021, 64–75.

“Teaching to Resist, Teaching to Recover: Charlotte Forten’s Sea Islands Archives Across Private and Public Forms.” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, vol. 37, no. 2, fall 2020. 


Get to Know Andrew Wildermuth, MFS Leader from Erlangen, Germany

This year, the Margaret Fuller Society (MFS) is spending time getting to know its leaders and members, who live all over the world. This month we honor the work of Graduate Student Liaison, Andrew Wildermuth, who recently answered some questions from MFS Web Developer Christina Katopodis.

Wildermuth is a graduate student in North American studies in Erlangen, Germany, and holds interests in poetics and politics, romanticism, and biopolitics. He is originally from Annapolis, Maryland, where he attended Anne Arundel Community College and St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He also works as a copyeditor and writes his own poems, with recent poems published in Columbia Journal, EcoTheo Review, and SOFTBLOW.

If you run into Wildermuth at a conference or on Zoom, you might ask him about how to attend tuition-free grad school in Germany as a non-EU citizen (or about tasty German beverages).

Katopodis: What is one thing about Fuller that you admire or find inspiring?

Wildermuth: I am perplexed and inspired by Margaret Fuller’s ceaseless imagination and ambition, her wide and bending conceptions of gender, as well as her always-surprising use of language. An 1835 journal fragment that haunts and scares me: “aims unreached occasions lost.”

Katopodis: What would you like to see the Margaret Fuller Society accomplish in the next 5 years?

Wildermuth: I would like to see the Margaret Fuller Society provide platforms for research and teaching that critically explores race, racism, and colonialism in the work of Margaret Fuller. I believe we need to build better vocabularies to understand how racial and racist discourse operates in early U.S. literature, especially in literature often considered liberal or progressive.

Katopodis: What is one thing you did or learned in the pandemic that you are proud of?

Wildermuth: I revived my running habit somewhat, which has nicely balanced a simultaneous revival of interest in wine and beer!

We thank Wildermuth for spending time to tell us more about himself. If you would like to read some of his scholarship, keep an eye out for two articles forthcoming this spring/summer: a paper on the sonnet politics of Claude McKay’s Harlem Shadows in the journal Aspeers; and a paper on Shelley’s Frankenstein and biopolitics in the journal ZAA: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik.

Call for Papers: MLA 2022

“Mattering in the 19th C and Beyond: US Transcendentalisms, Racism, and Repair”

Roundtable organized by the Margaret Fuller Society

MLA 2022: Washington, DC, January 6-9, 2022

Submission deadline: 20 March 2021

How do race, racism, and anti-racism operate among US transcendentalists? What alternative vocabularies and theoretical models have their Black contemporaries and later Black thinkers created? We invite proposals that challenge or reform the legacies of transcendentalism. Potential topics (others are welcome):

–     constructions of race

–     systemic racism

–     Black intellectual/aesthetic traditions

–     Black writers/speakers

–     epistemologies

–     gender(s)

–     queer/trans of color critiques

–     disidentification

–     intersectionality

–     conversation as method

–     languages

–     critiques and revisionist readings of “transcendentalism”

–     social institutions (labor, incarceration, education, politics)

–     reparations

Early-career scholars are encouraged to submit. Send 200-word abstracts to Jana Argersinger (

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

More details about the ALA may be found here:

E-mail 300 word abstracts to Joseph Urbas ( 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 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 ( 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

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.”