CFP: “Transcendentalism: Men and Women Conversing”

In a collaborative call from the Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott Societies, we invite proposals for papers to be presented at the next Thoreau Gathering in Concord, MA (July 11-14, 2019) on dialogues between men and women of the Transcendentalist movement. When Emerson looked back at Transcendentalism, in “Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England,” he recalled men and women who read adventurously, became friends, formed a club for conversation, and launched  a magazine. They were talkers as well as solitaries. Across the apparent divide of gender, what did they have to talk about?

Papers might closely study an individual dialogue or consider the broader dynamics of two or more writers within or alongside the movement. All conversation was not face-to-face; instead, in keeping with the Gathering’s 2019 theme, “Nature, Technology, and the Connected Life,” it was also made possible by the post office that delivered letters, the railroad that enabled travel, and the print industry that opened authorship in books and periodicals.

The following list suggests only some areas of possibility:

  • Mary Moody Emerson’s exchange of letters with Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Mary Moody Emerson’s conversation with Henry David Thoreau, as reported by Thoreau
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson’s exchanges of letters and opinion with Margaret Fuller
  • Fuller editing Thoreau as editor of the Dial
  • Much more on the Dial: perhaps Caroline or Ellen Sturgis’ poems and their reception, or any dialogues within or between issues
  • Fuller’s social vision in re Orestes Brownson’s or Theodore Parker’s or W.H. Channing’s
  • Fuller’s Conversations, with vs. without male participation
  • Elizabeth Palmer Peabody and Bronson Alcott as educators at the Masonic Temple school
  • Peabody publishing Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” in Aesthetic Papers
  • Thoreau and the women of his family as antislavery activists
  • Interactions across gender at Brook Farm or Fruitlands
  • Louisa May Alcott and her father
  • Louisa May Alcott’s fictional or poetic representations of Emerson and/or Thoreau
  • Lydia Maria Child on the movement from New York: definitions and satires; her own practical Transcendentalism (urban reform, antislavery , Croton water) vs. Emerson’s or Thoreau’s or ?
  • Fictional refractions of Emersonian thought by Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Mary Gove Nichols, Margaret Sweat, or ?
  • Caroline Dall as sponsor of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Woman” at the 1855 Boston women’s rights convention
  • Acknowledgement of or resistance to Emerson or Thoreau or another male transcendentalist by your choice of feminist author or activist
  • Dall’s history of the movement in “Transcendentalism in New England” (1895)
  • The gender divide and its overcoming in history or criticism of the Transcendentalist movement

This will be a peer-reviewed panel. Please send one-page proposals and short c.v.’s to Phyllis Cole (pbc2 [at] psu [dot] edu) or David Greenham  (David [dot] Greenham [at] uwe [dot] ac [dot] uk) by Nov. 26. Decisions will be made by Dec. 15. Inquiries are welcome at any point.

ALA 2017 Conference & the 25th Anniversary of the Society

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Yoshiko Ito presents at ALA 2017

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.

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Phyllis Cole addresses Fuller Society members at the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House

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.

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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.

 

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Christina Alexis, Executive Director of MFNH with Charlene Avallone

Thank you to all the members who made these thought-provoking panels, visit to the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, and overall wonderful weekend possible!