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). www.lpppub.com/nineteenth-century-criticism.
“Onlookers, Rescuers, and a ‘Melancholy Witness,’” Just Teach One, Common-Place: An Interactive Journal of Early American Life, American Antiquarian Society, 2019. http://www.jto.common-place.org/justteachone/
“Sentimental Fragments, Absence, and “Writing” Issues,”Just Teach One, Common-Place: An Interactive Journal of Early American Life, American Antiquarian Society, 2018. http://www.jto.common-place.org/justteachone/
“‘The Afric-American Picture Gallery’ Reflection,” Just Teach One African-American Literature, Common-Place: An Interactive Journal of Early American Life, American Antiquarian Society, 2015. http://www.jtoaa.common-place.org