From EWS President Melanie Dawson: Looking Toward 2021

Looking Toward 2021 

As we prepare to say a hearty goodbye to 2020 and greet a new year, the Edith Wharton Society will welcome a new set of officers and take a moment to recognize those who have served through the end of the current year. As many of you know, our officers serve for two-year periods, during which they maintain the scholarly presence of the Edith Wharton’s work, oversee the Society’s finances and membership, and support conference planning, including plans for the 2020 conference and 2020 EWS awards. This year we are particularly grateful for our outgoing Members at Large, Rita Bode and Katie Ahern; we thank both for their service across the past two years.  We also wish to recognize the Herculean labors of Margaret J. Jessee and Meg Toth, known affectionately to many as “the Margarets,” the directors of our in-person conference originally slated for June of this past year in New York City.  Conference planning is not for the faint of heart even in ordinary times, but as our lives were rearranged in response to our ongoing public health crisis, Jay and Meg closed out all site-specific conference planning and transitioned to our first online Edith Wharton Society conference events. We owe them huge thanks for their resilient energies as they enabled our virtual conversations about Wharton’s work; our summer online events were without precedent and their success was most welcome. 

As we turn to 2021, Sheila Liming continues to helm our membership coordination, and Carole Shaffer Koros the Society’s archives; Donna Campbell remains Webmaster and Sharon Kim Treasurer; we are grateful to these members their vital work on behalf of the Society. At The Edith Wharton Review, Paul Ohler continues as Editor and Myrto Drizou and Sharon Kim as Associate Editors, with Shannon Brennan as Book Review Editor. All are deserving of our ongoing appreciation for the journal’s splendid presence. Those who step into new EWS positions at the beginning of 2021 include Meg Toth, Laura Rattray, and Virginia Ricard, who join the Executive Board as Members At Large.  Thanks to all three for enabling the society’s work.  Jay Jessee steps in as Secretary, Myrto Drizou as Vice President, and Jennifer Haytock as President.  I know that the Society will be in excellent hands with these talented stewards. Many of you will remember Jennifer as co-director of the 2016 conference in Washington, D. C. and as an active Vice-President these past two years.  Indeed, I have relied upon a close collaboration with Jennifer throughout my time in the Presidency, just as I have benefitted from the wisdom of Paul Ohler, who steps out of the role of Immediate Past President, and who deserves many thanks for his years as Secretary, Vice-President, and President. I should also note the dedication of a host of officers past and present (especially Emily Orlando, Meredith Goldsmith, and Gary Totten, additional presidents with whom I have worked across my time with the society) and to a society culture that fosters such collaborative goodwill among its members.  We hope you will continue to contribute to the Society’s ongoing discussions of Edith Wharton, her works, and her milieu.   


Melanie Dawson