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).