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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
More 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.
Women at Work: Margaret Fuller and Nineteenth-Century Women Writers on Work
Saturday, Jan 5, 2019
This session, organized by Sonia Di Loreto and presided by Jana L. Argersinger, explored Margaret Fuller’s relation to and representations of labor from multiple perspectives, including the ways in which Margaret Fuller and other 19th c. women writers considered, debated, practiced, and critiqued labor.
Aimee Allard presented a paper focused on the labor of sewing, specifically the role of sewing within the asylum. Sewing was a tedious task designed to keep women busy, a punishment for women patients “who dared to read or write, and a system of unpaid labor from which unscrupulous asylum superintendents profited.” Allard writes, “For Fuller, sewing was a form of cloth confinement, so it seems only fitting that [Elizabeth] Packard and her contemporaries aligned needlework with straitjackets and fabric restraints.”
Hediye Özkan discussed how Lillie Devereux Blake approached issues faced by women in the nineteenth century in Fettered for Life or Master and Lord
(1874), “by using woman-slave analogy not only in a capitalist but also patriarchal society to reconstruct work, womanhood, and marriage.”
Jessica Horvath Williams approached nineteenth-century women’s labor through disability studies, examining journal entries related to the strenuous labor of nineteenth-century housework. In her paper she interrogated the impossible standard of the Colonial Good Wife, and asked what we mean when we apply the words “disabled” and “frail” to women in the nineteenth century.
This post was written by Margaret Fuller Society President Charlene Avallone, who also provided the photos from the event.
Margaret Fuller was very much in evidence at the 2018 Triennial Conference of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers in Denver (November 7-11), and the participation of Society members there was gratifying. The richly rewarding gathering around the conference’s timely thematics of “Resistance and Recovery across the Americas,” afforded many highlights.
The stimulating session on Thursday spoke to the conferences themes, while it both answered to the Society’s initiative of promoting attention to Fuller in the company of other women writers and extended genealogical excavation to include a male (proto)feminist and nineteenth-century women artists. Moderator and Past-President Phyllis Cole’s introduction linked the panel to the varied and complex models of relation alternative to lineal genealogy that are discussed in the essay collection that she edited with Second Vice President Jana Argersinger: Toward a Female Genealogy of Transcendentalism (University of Georgia Press, 2014). Fritz Fleischmann, speaking on “Margaret Fuller and John Neal,” expanded recovery of the nineteenth-century dialogue between women and men as they attempted to work their way out of patriarchal structures of thought toward expanded ideas of “woman” and women’s rights. Etta Madden, in “Genealogies of Translation: Fuller, de Staël and Caroline Crane Marsh, “explored direct influences among these three women as they found travel and translation means of crossing boundaries of nation, language, and culture to arrive at new knowledge and self-transformation. Yoshiko Ito’s paper, “Looking for Transpacific Genealogy in Early Feminism: A Study on the Analogy between Margaret Fuller and Ume Tsuda,” reflected on a serendipitous newspaper juxtaposition to present a critical model of how inspiration can travel across cultures even without direct influence. Janessa Kenway opened a largely uncharted topic in Fuller Studies with “The Visual Genealogy of Margaret Fuller” as she began to map Fuller’s Transcendentalist aesthetic beyond her own appreciation of contemporary artists to recover nineteenth-century female painters and sculptors of the ideal. Read the paper abstracts here.
Fuller received attention at other panels, too. In the session “Resisting The Canonical Syllabus,” Lesli Vollrath’s talk, “Voices of Resistance Unfolding: Teaching Margaret Fuller as a Nasty Woman in Woman in the Nineteenth Century,” advanced the Society’s other current initiative, to promote the teaching of Fuller. And Sarah Salter presented “Margaret Fuller’s Italian Regionalism” at the session “Regionalism Beyond Fiction: Women’s Resistance Across Periodical Forms.”
Additionally, the conference brought together Society members who spoke on a variety of other writers at other sessions: Treasurer Noelle Baker (Elizabeth Cady Stanton), Mollie Barnes (Charlotte Forten), Kate Culkin (Harriet Hosmer), Advisory Board Member Lucinda Damon-Bach (Anna Jameson and Catharine Sedgwick), Elizabeth Dean (Nella Larson), Mark Gallagher (Louisa May Alcott), Denise Kohn (Laura C. Bullard), Ariel Silver (Alcott), Lisa West (Sedgwick), and President Charlene Avallone (Bullard, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and George Sand). More details on the presentations can be found in the draft program of the conference. Mollie also volunteered her services at the (very early morning) CV Workshop to help graduate students and others polish their credentials for the job market.
The Society hosted two well-attended social events on Friday. The afternoon tea, a collaborative event with the Sedgwick and Stowe societies, was organized by Jana Argersinger, Noelle Baker, Cindy Damon-Bach, and Beth Lueck (Past President, Harriet Beecher Stowe Society), with the adept direction of Jordan Von Cannon (VP of Publications for SSAWW). In addition to tasty pastries, the tea provided an occasion for new MFS members to introduce themselves and their work in a conversational setting and for all members to engage with scholars studying other American women writers. A hearty welcome to new members who joined the Society around the Conference: Kate Culkin, Elizabeth Dean, Jenessa Kenway, Etta Madden, and Lisa West. Noelle also arranged the dinner that spirited Society members away from the tourist district to experience something of a Denver neighborhood, as well as a delectable meal, at the Mexican restaurant El Jefe. Dinner offered further opportunity for that favorite discourse of Fullerites–conversation.
The following day, a standing ovation from a packed ballroom at the conference Awards Luncheon welcomed Phyllis Cole to the podium to accept the Karen Dandurand Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, given every three years, recognizes committed and extended work that has furthered the goals of SSAWW “to support and broaden knowledge among academics as well as the general public about American women writers.” The award speech, delivered by Jana Argersinger, acknowledged the many dimensions of Phyllis’s outstanding career: her extraordinary teaching, public speaking, publishing, groundbreaking research on women writers, service, mentoring, and community-building. (Read the nomination letter here.) No applause was more heartfelt than as Phyllis was honored for “her passion for shaping, encouraging, and inspiring the next generation of readers, thinkers, and scholars that makes Dr. Cole such as strong role model for us all.”
In her acceptance speech, Phyllis invoked Fuller, too, as a model, a “model of resistance” for today in calling the women of her country to bring their “moral power” to protest the martial nationalism that was transpiring at the Mexican border in 1844. One conference participant, following up on the conversation at a panel sponsored by the Lydia Maria Child Society, shared a practical model of such protest for teachers to post on a syllabus: “As an educator, I fully support the rights of undocumented students to an education and to live free from the fear of deportation. I pledge confidentiality to any student who wishes to disclose their immigration status, and I will work with students who require immigration-related accommodations.” The syllabus also included a web address for contacting the state’s New Mexico Dream Team.
Many left Denver remarking on the inspiration, energy, and inclusion that characterize the SSAWW Triennial and already looking forward to the next conference in Philadelphia in 2021.
This post was written by Margaret Fuller Society member, Website Editor, and contributing author, Christina Katopodis.
Fullerites gathered with Emersonians and Thoreauvians in Heidelberg, Germany on July 26-29, 2018 for the “Transcendentalist Intersections: Literature, Philosophy, Religion” Conference hosted by the University of Heidelberg and sponsored by the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, the Margaret Fuller Society, and the Anglistisches Seminar and Center for American Studies at the University of Heidelberg.
Dan Malachuk, President of the Emerson Society, writes: “In late July, more than seventy scholars from around the world gathered at the University of Heidelberg for four balmy days of intense cross-disciplinary dialogue about some of the most pressing issues in Transcendentalist studies. Perhaps the largest conference ever held on this subject, “Transcendentalist Intersections: Literature, Philosophy, Religion” was the vibrant conclusion to a four-year collaboration of the University’s Anglistisches Seminar and Center for American Studies, the Margaret Fuller Society, and the Emerson Society. Reflecting at a closing session, participants recalled especially fruitful conversations about the continued indispensability of archival research, recovering “minor” figures, assessing intra-movement conflicts as well as confluences, whether to de- or re-transcendentalize the movement, interrogating as always its nationalist character, and remembering the periodicals, including the Dial, whose subtitle was also the conference’s and—let us hope—a continuing prompt for more such intersections.”
Laura Dassow Walls, in her keynote address, called to mind Fuller telling Thoreau that nature is no more his until he is more hers. This sentiment of embrace, exchange, and openness characterized many of the papers, dialogues, and exchanges throughout the conference. Walls crafted a beautiful and inspiring argument for what she calls the “parahuman” (as opposed to “nonhuman” or “posthuman”), reminding us that there really is no “not-me,” that we are all connected, and that we are the very criminals we are searching for in our present climate crisis. Responding to a question about how to reconcile ourselves with Emerson’s use of the word “Nature” given recent ecocritical scholarship that has problematized that term (I am thinking of Timothy Morton especially), Walls pointed to the specificity of each instance, moment, and context of Emerson’s use of the word “nature” and called for us all to remember to be very specific when we use it ourselves.
On the next day, Fullerites and Emersonians gathered for panels on Alcott, Fuller, Emerson, and Thoreau. Russell Sbriglia’s paper on Fuller, Hegel, and concrete universality discussed Fuller’s work to harmonize the particular with the universal. Sbriglia used the “+” in LGBTQ+ to demonstrate the relevancy of Fuller’s argument that there is no humanity unless we are all a part of it; we are not free until all of us are free. Sbriglia suggested that Fuller’s assertion that Man cannot be realized without Woman is not an addition but a transformative process that affects the whole. You can read a full abstract of Sbriglia’s talk here.
There were so many beautiful papers to feed the mind at the conference. To touch on some of those about Margaret Fuller, I will do my best to quickly introduce them. For more details, you can read the full abstracts in the embedded links below.
“Transcendental Feminisms” Panel, photo courtesy of Marina P. Kizima
There was a diverse range of subjects covered. One vibrant thread of discussion could be traced between Phyllis Cole‘s paper on Fuller and Socialism in Paris and David Robinson‘s paper on Fuller, Channing, and Fourierism. Mollie Barnes called our attention to the importance of sculpture as it captures historical movement and inspiration into action. Leslie Eckel presented her work on utopias focusing on failure. Christina Katopodis presented her sound studies work on “Pulse and Polarity” in Fuller and Emerson. Marina P. Kizima focused on the religious aspects of Fuller’s work and Denise Kohn focused on Fuller and women’s suffrage. In addition to covering Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century, there were papers on Summer on the Lakes such as Monika Elbert‘s and on Fuller’s letters such as Mario Bannoni‘s presentation on three letters of Fuller’s recently found in Italy.
Some papers focused on translation, such as Fuller’s translation of Conversations withGoethe, and Adrienne Perry asked us to think about the ethics of Transcendental translation. Other papers focused on periodicals, such as Brigitte Bailey‘s paper on The Dial and print culture; Sonia Di Loreto presented a paper on Fuller’s “A Daughter of Italy” (1848) and transnational intersections in the People’s Journal. In her paper on Emerson and George Sand, MFS President Charlene Avallone urged us all to read more of George Sand’s work. Sarah Wider read a beautiful paper on Caroline Sturgis, who drew for Ellen Tucker Emerson when she was a little girl. David Greenham presented a paper on Emerson’s cognitive topology, looking at his metaphors not as literary devices but as working out ways of thinking. His diagram of light refraction on the eye was very impressive. There really was too much wonderful work than could be captured in a single event recap and do it justice.
At the conference, the Margaret Fuller Society was able to conduct a meeting to discuss current business and spend time getting to know new members and share scholarship.
This post was written by Margaret Fuller Society member and contributing author Michael Schrimper.
From May 24-27, 2018, members of the Fuller Society gathered in San Francisco at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero for the 27th Annual conference of the American Literature Association. Over the course of the four days, the Society held two panels, a successful business meeting, and one dinner with a lovely view of the Bay.
On Friday afternoon’s panel, “Margaret Fuller: In the Classroom and Beyond,” which was chaired by Larry Reynolds (Texas A&M University), the first presenter was Holly Dykstra (Laredo Community College). In her paper “Using Fuller to Teach Fuller: Creating Agency and Security,” Dykstra outlined the ways in which Fuller serves as something of a role model for her students (some of them first generation or undocumented) at her college near the border of Mexico. Dykstra examines the concepts behind Fuller’s Conversations—“immersing others in challenging academic situations, encouraging shared knowledge, and spreading education to those who lack agency”—as a way for her students to not only relate to Fuller, but potentially see Fuller’s will and work as models for their own. Callie Gallo (Fordham University) presented “Teaching Margaret Fuller, Fanny Fern, and the Nineteenth-Century Press in the Wake of #MeToo,” drawing startling connections between nineteenth-century scenes of male aggression and sexual violence and news stories unfolding in our contemporary climate. Lesli Vollrath (University of Houston) presented “Elemental Bodies: Mapping the Materialist Cartographies of Margaret Fuller’s ‘Leila’ and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening in a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Classroom,” providing an overview for teaching Fuller’s and Chopin’s texts through critical frameworks ranging from Hélène Cixous’s “The Laugh of the Medusa” (1976) to Stacy Alaimo’s New Materialist concept “trans-corporeality.” These frameworks, Vollrath suggests, create relational possibilities for the female body in its environment. Nanette Rasband Hilton (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) also gave a paper concerned with Fuller’s “Leila,” “Praxis of Duality: The Sisterhood of Fuller’s ‘Leila’ and DuBois’s ‘Atlanta.’” Hilton’s paper demonstrated the potential of a reader’s own ipseity to promote “multiple social identities with awareness of crosscutting memberships.” At this notably well-attended panel, Hilton led a moment of silence to honor the memory of prodigious Fuller scholar Professor Jeffrey Steele.
On Saturday’s panel, “Margaret Fuller: Out of New England,” chaired by Society Treasurer Noelle Baker (Independent scholar), Simone Puelo (University of Connecticut, Storrs) presented “Of Good and Noble Aspect: Margaret Fuller, Catholicism and Pius IX (1847-1850),” tracing Fuller’s ambivalent views of Catholicism and Pius IX, as well as her criticism of theocratic monarchy and the Papal State. Puelo sees many of Fuller’s critiques of the Church as “emancipatory” in nature, exposing the institutional injustices common Catholics faced. Clemens Spahr (Mainz University, Germany) presented “Romantic Revolutions: Cosmopolitan Radicalism in Margaret Fuller’s Dispatches from Europe,” which reads Fuller’s European dispatches for Horace Greeley’s the New-York Tribune as “not a refutation of her earlier Transcendentalism,” nor a “simple continuation” of that project, but, rather, a “rewriting” of her Romanticism. Katie Kornacki (Caldwell University) gave a paper entitled “‘The Morning Star of Margaret Fuller’: The Woman’s Club Movement and the Legacy of Fuller’s Conversations,” outlining Fuller’s continuing influence in women’s clubs across the United States. Michael Schrimper (Independent scholar) presented a transatlantic study, “Who’s Afraid of Margaret Fuller?: Literary and Biographical Connections Between Virginia Woolf and Margaret Fuller,” delineating the ways in which Fuller, in “The Magnolia of Lake Pontchartrain” in particular, anticipates the high Modernist feminist narratology of Virginia Woolf’s experimental 1917 sketch, “Kew Gardens.”
Prior to Saturday’s panel and business meeting, Fullerites gathered for a Friday evening dinner at Sens, a warmly-lit Mediterranean restaurant overlooking the Bay Bridge. Before partaking in a meal including grilled Spanish octopus and dry-aged rack of lamb, Society members watched as Treasurer Noelle Baker presented the first inaugural Phyllis Blum Cole Award for Social Service to its eponymous original recipient. In giving reasons for her receiving the award, Baker cited Cole’s: forging a relationship between the Society and the Margaret Fuller House of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a non-profit organization propagating Fuller’s social ideals; and her vital role as President of the Society, which, in her three-year tenure, saw Cole expanding membership, increasing funds, generating a Society newsletter, renewing panel status at MLA, establishing a new Society website, and revising Society governance structure, among other feats. Society members watched with admiration as Baker presented Cole with a plaque engraved with Fuller’s words from her 1844 New-YorkTribune piece, “Thanksgiving:” “No home can be healthful in which are not cherished seeds of good for the world at large.” A similar plaque will be presented, to quote the speech written by Baker and current Society President Charlene Avallone, “every three years to a Society Member” whom the Executive Council “recognizes as having worked in some significant way to promulgate the social ideals advanced by Margaret Fuller.” In addition to the plaque, the award it is to take the form of a donation to the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House.
To top off the occasion in honor of Professor Phyllis Cole, there were cheers of congratulations, along with heartfelt wine toasts, all around.
This post was written by Margaret Fuller Society First Vice President and contributing author Charlene Avallone.
Conference director Stéphanie Durrans and her coworkers welcomed us this July to the Université Bordeaux Montaigne for the first international conference organized by the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, a gathering characterized by the hospitality and intellectual stimulation traditionally associated with the host nation. Not surprisingly, Margaret Fuller was much in evidence–for among American writers, Fuller stands out as paradigmatic of the conference theme: Border Crossings.
Notorious in her own time for transgressing and confounding boundaries in her life and work, Fuller remains recognized for transcending confines. She evaded restrictions on education and library access, preparing herself for an exceptional career that amalgamated roles as educator, public intellectual, translator, journalist, frontier and transnational travel writer, and theorist of (trans)gender. Born into New England elite, she represented causes of immigrants and the poor and championed claims of human rights against state and social constraints. A female pioneer in transnational cultural and political journalism, Fuller explored the possibilities of literary and political connections in her European travels. Her writings, now issued in several nations and languages, often blur conventional boundaries between oral/literary discourse, male/female spheres, or popular/high genres of literature and philosophy.
Panelists on the roundtable sponsored by the Fuller Society highlighted this liminal figure, examining: Fuller’s literal and political translations of European writers (Kathleen Lawrence); her redefinition in her pedagogy and literary canon of the boundaries between women’s conversational culture/Socratic dialogue and imitative/original learning and writing (Christa Vogelius); her participation in multilingual epistolary networks that cross national, ideological, private/public, and genre boundaries (Sonia Di Loreto); her transformation of nationalist travelogue through her transatlantic reading and travel, deviation from normative masculine perspectives, and translation (Brigitte Bailey); and transnational reception history of her life and work (Marina Kizima).
On another panel, speakers analyzed Fuller’s self-conscious rhetorical strategies of revisioning as she confronted changing national borderlines and internal divisions, including over slavery (Mollie Barnes), and directed attention from Fuller’s connection to socialism to consideration of her thinking about property and its relation to revolution (Abigail Fagan). Together, they conveyed a nuanced sense of Fuller’s journalistic negotiations with radical political positions.
We gathered in Boston, MA for the American Literature Association 2017 conference May 25-28, where the Margaret Fuller Society organized two panels and celebrated its 25th Anniversary. On Thursday, Wesley Mott presented “‘Testifying of that Unseen World within’: ‘The Dial’ and Transcendentalist Music Criticism” on a “Musical Intelligence in Antebellum Boston” panel.
On Friday, the first of the Fuller Society panels, “Presenting Margaret Fuller I: Touring, Film, and Digital Humanities,” was chaired by First Vice President Charlene Avallone. Reverend Jenny Rankin discussed her walks “On the Road in Fuller’s Footsteps” in Italy. Fuller Society Board Member Sonia Di Loreto, with William Bond and Sarah Payne, presented their Digital Humanities project and incredibly useful teaching tool, The Margaret Fuller Transnational Archive, which you can read more about here. Finally, Jonathan Schwartz presented a preview of a documentary film on Margaret Fuller. Many members who participated in the film making were present. Fuller Society President Phyllis Cole moderated a Ralph Waldo Emerson Society panel in the afternoon called “Beautiful Foes: A Roundtable Discussion of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Affiliations with Women,” on which Sarah Ann Wider, Kate Culkin, Fuller Society Treasurer Noelle Baker, Christopher Hanlon, and Andrea Knutson presented.
On Saturday, the day began early with the second Fuller Society panel, “Presenting Margaret Fuller II: Writing Activism,” chaired by Charlene Avallone. Yoshiko Ito began the presentations talking about her work teaching Fuller in Japan in her paper, “Rhetorical Strategies of Margaret Fuller and Hiratsuka Raicho.” Then Katie Kornacki presented on Fuller as satirist in “Margaret Fuller’s New York Journalism: Anti-Capital Punishment Reform, Evolution, and the Role of the Public Intellectual.” Finally, Christina Katopodis concluded the panel with her paper arguing for Fuller as a forerunner of William James in her paper “Margaret Fuller’s Early Feminist Pragmatic Method.” Full abstracts are available in Past ALA Convention Paper Titles in the society archives.
To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Margaret Fuller Society, after a successful business meeting Fuller Society members visited the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House for refreshments, cake, and a tour of the community center, through the child care rooms, food services kitchen, and the shady playground outside. You can read more about the House and our visit here and make a donation to the house on their website. The community center is a symbol of love in Cambridge. You can read more about what volunteers do here. The day concluded with the American Literature Association 2017 conference reception.
Thank you to all the members who made these thought-provoking panels, visit to the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, and overall wonderful weekend possible!