1999-12-28 MLA

Edith Wharton Society
Minutes: Business Meeting at the Modern Language Association
Chicago, IL

Dec. 28, 1999

Present: Augusta Rohrbach, Vice-President; Carole Shaffer-Koros, Treasurer; Julie Olin-Ammentorp, Secretary; Fred Wegener; Annette Zilversmit; various members of the Wharton Society

In the absence of Abby Werlock (President), who was unable to attend due to a medical problem, Augusta Rohrbach called the meeting to order at 8:50 p.m. She announced that Elizabeth Keyser’s term on the Executive Board had come to an end; hence the Society needed to elect a replacement. Julie Olin-Ammentorp nominated Hildegard Hoeller; Alan Price seconded the nomination. Augusta recounted Hildegard’s achievements: she has completed a book on Wharton’s relation to the sentimental tradition; she has published in the Edith Wharton Review; she
gave a paper at last year’s American Literature Association conference, as well as other conferences; she teaches at Babson College in Massachusetts. She was elected by acclaim.

Topics for next year’s MLA panel were the next subject of discussion. As in the past, the president will choose one topic; the second will be chosen from the floor after this year’s panel on “Public and Private Spaces in Edith Wharton,” chaired by Jean Blackall. Topics need to be emailed to MLA by Jan. 5, 2000.

Carole Shaffer-Koros gave the Treasurer’s Report. The Wharton Society ended 1998 with $938.55 last year, and with $855.60 this year. The Wharton Review and arrangements for the Newport 2000 conference have been the Society’s major expenses. Our only source of income is from membership dues, so she urged members to make sure their dues were up to date.

Carole also gave a brief update on the upcoming Newport conference. Registration will be $150-160, and will include some, but not all, meals. Rooms (in dormitories) will run about $66-$100 per night. About 70 rooms (included doubles) will be available. Over 100 proposals for the conference have been received. Two afternoons will not have any panels or other activities scheduled, so that participants will have adequate time to see Newport itself, including its famous mansions, the Cliff Walk, and other sites. Carole also acknowledged those present who had been reviewing articles for the Wharton Review, including Fred Wegener, Augusta Rohrbach, Julie Olin-Ammentorp, and Elsa Nettels, who is also writing a book review. She also praised Donna Campbell (not present) for her fine work on the Wharton Society webpage, and mentioned that Donna had also been reviewing articles for the EWR.

In a general discussion, Annette Zilversmit brought up the topic of the Wharton Society’s ties to the Edith Wharton Restoration, and argued that we need to forge stronger ties with the Restoration. In particular,
she noted some asymmetries in the relationship; for instance, the Wharton Society webpage has a “hot link” to the Wharton Restoration, but the Restoration does not have one to the Wharton Society; the Society mailing list has been made available to the Restoration, but the Restoration list has not, apparently, been made available to the Society. The Society, with its much smaller and rather precarious budget, has supported the Restoration, but the Restoration hasnot supported the Society. She asked whether the Society could make a brochure and membership form available at the Mount bookshop, and also raised the possibility that the Society might want to form an academic affiliation, as the Cather Society has with the University of Nebraska.

This general topic led to much useful discussion, from which a number of specific points emerged. One central concern is that the Wharton Society budget is, indeed, small and precarious. A basic problem is that not all members pay their dues regularly; one person calculated that, with nearly 400 members, most of whom should be paying $20 annually, our annual income from dues alone should be $8000 (actual membership dues from 1999 totaled $2223). It was suggested that every fall issue of the Wharton Review include a reminder to members that they should send in their dues; this seemed generally agreed upon. The Society also needs a better method of recording who has paid dues each year. It was also agreed that the Wharton Society should attempt to strengthen its ties to the Restoration; Julie Olin-Ammentorp will contact Scott Marshall of the Restoration and see what might be done about displaying a brochure (including membership
form) at The Mount.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Julie Olin-Ammentorp, Secretary

Addendum:

The second paper topic for MLA 2000 was selected from the floor following
Jean Blackall’s panel on “Public and Private Spaces in Edith
Wharton.” The topic selected was “Edith Wharton and Popular Culture,” and
will be chaired by Edie Thornton.

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