Monthly Archives: February 2020

New Books: Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age (Discount until 2.28.20)

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Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age

Melanie V. Dawson

Original Price: $90.00
Discount Price: $45.00
Use Code AU220

Providing a counterpoint to readings of modern American culture that focus on the cult of youth, Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age interrogates early twentieth-century literature’s obsessions with aging past early youth. Exploring the ways in which the aging process was understood as generating unequal privileges and as inciting intergenerational contests, this study situates constructions of age at the center of modern narrative conflicts.

Dawson examines how representations of aging connect the work of Edith Wharton to writings by a number of modern authors, including Willa Cather, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Zora Neale Hurston, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Floyd Dell, Eugene O’Neill, and Gertrude Atherton. For these writers, age-based ideologies filter through narratives of mourning for youth lost in the Great War, the trauma connected to personal change, the contested self-determination of the aged, the perceived problem of middle-aged sexuality, fantasies of rejuvenation, and persistent patterns of patriarchal authority. The work of these writers shows that as the generational ascendancy of some groups was imagined to operate in tandem with disempowerment of others, the charged dynamics of age gave rise to contests about property and authority. Constructions of age-based values also reinforced gender norms, producing questions about personal value that were directed toward women of all ages.

By interpreting Edith Wharton’s and her contemporaries’ works in relation to age-based anxieties, Dawson sets Wharton’s work at the center of a vital debate about the contested privileges associated with age in contemporary culture.

“A comprehensive and sophisticated study that draws attention to the various manifestations and implications of age and aging in modern literature. This volume goes well beyond Wharton’s body of work to offer important analyses of her contemporaries on their own terms, as well as thought-provoking comparisons of Wharton and her fellow writers.”—Gary Totten, editor of Memorial Boxes and Guarded Interiors: Edith Wharton and Material Culture  

In Memoriam: Barbara Comins

From Carole Shaffer-Koros:

Our colleague Barbara Comins has passed away. Here is a brief obit.

Barbara Comins, as a professional cellist, performed in various orchestras, playing with such luminaries as Luciano Pavarotti, Tony Bennett, and Frank Sinatra. Earning a doctorate in English, she taught college composition and literature and also co-designed and taught the Creativity Cluster at City University of New York’s LaGuardia campus, co-publishing an article about it titled “Artful Reading: Spontaneous Design.” She’s published poems in ​Visible Ink a​nd essays in ​Poetry Calendar,Medical Problems of Performing Artists, ​the travel section of ​The New York Times, Wallace Stevens Journal, Edith Wharton Review,​ and in the books ​Essays on Transgressive Readings, Divisions of the Heart: Elizabeth Bishop on the Art of Memory and Place, and ​“In Worcester, Massachusetts”: Essays on Elizabeth Bishop​. Recently, twenty of her paintings appeared in the solo exhibition Encounters​.

Whisper Gallery

CFP: The Age of Innocence at 100

The Age of Innocence at 100

The Edith Wharton Review invites submissions for a Special Issue celebrating the centenary of The Age of Innocence.

We welcome essays on any aspect of Wharton’s acclaimed novel, from the historical to the queer, from the architectural to the gastronomic. We are especially interested in essays that interpret The Age of Innocence in relation to our contemporary historical moment from the perspective of current critical theories, new reading practices, political climates, and global contexts. One hundred years since its publication, the novel remains relevant, and we seek comparative and cross-disciplinary efforts including engagements with age, temporalities, embodiment and dis/ability.

Deadline: August 31, 2020

EWS Archives: New Feature at the Site

There’s a new page at the site dedicated to the history of the Edith Wharton Society:

Carole Shaffer-Koros is the Edith Wharton Society Archivist. Materials such as conference programs, etc., will be added.

This will supplement the basic history of the EWS here:

CFP: Edith Wharton at MLA 2021 (Deadline March 15, 2020)

Edith Wharton Society Call for Papers

Modern Language Association
Toronto, 7–10 January 2021

Edith Wharton’s Masculinities: Beyond the Unsatisfactory Man

In 1991, David Holbrook identified the “unsatisfactory man” in Wharton’s oeuvre. While that assessment remains largely uncontested, the EWS invites presentations on men in Wharton’s work—both fiction and non-fiction—that probes and complicates her treatment of masculinity, including gender normativity and gender fluidity. Any theoretical or contextual approaches welcome.

Please submit titled proposals (approx. 350 words) and a brief CV by March 15, 2020 to Jennifer Haytock at Please include any requests for AV needs in your proposal. Scholars whose proposals are accepted must be members in good standing of the Edith Wharton Society by the time of the conference.


Edith Wharton materials at Princeton digitized

From Mary Chinery via the wharton-l listserv:

Wharton scholars might be interested in newly available digitized archival materials in Princeton University’s Firestone Library. A significant trove of Wharton letters and other manuscripts and business papers have been posted online. Individual pages can be downloaded as .tiffs or the entire file as a .pdf (which requires less computer space). Happy Reading!

Here’s a link to the results from a general search in Finding Aids site for Edith Wharton. Click online materials on the left.

See you in New York!


Mary Chinery, Georgian Court University