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.