Author Archives: Donna Campbell

About Donna Campbell

Professor of English, Washington State University. Late nineteenth- and early 20th-century Americanist and digital humanities. and

Wharton in the News: Sofia Coppola in Praise of Edith Wharton’s Beloved Antiheroine, Undine Spragg

“We watch her like a car crash while at the same time we root for her.”

By Sofia Coppola

November 15, 2022

Until I read The Custom of the Country, I had never met a literary character quite like Undine Spragg, nor encountered such an in-depth portrait of a classic antiheroine. Yet, we’ve all met women like her. We all know women who have transformed and reinvented themselves. Undine follows the trends carefully, without having anything unique to add, and unabashedly markets herself at the center of the world of high society that she longs to belong to.

I’ve always loved Edith Wharton’s writing, but The Custom of the Country is my favorite, and I think her funniest and most sly. As I’ve worked on adapting it into a screenplay, I’ve found it interesting to hear some men say that Undine is so unlikable, while my women friends love her and are fascinated by her and what she’ll do next. We’ve all seen her before, the way she walks into the room, her focus on men, and her ease with their gaze. We admire and are annoyed by her. While I’ve often worked on stories with more sympathetic characters, it’s been so fun to dive into Undine’s world and pursuits.

Read the rest at

Wharton in the News: The House of Mirth (2000) now streaming on Showtime & Prime Video

Photograph from Alamy

In his exquisite and anguished adaptation, from 2000, of Edith Wharton’s novel “The House of Mirth,” Terence Davies brings to life the book’s daring societal X-rays—the revelations of codes and norms, unspoken rules and silent judgments, that govern the glittering whirl of fin-de-siècle New York high society, especially those that limit women’s independence. Gillian Anderson stars as Lily Bart, the orphaned heiress to a vanished fortune, who depends entirely on an elderly aunt’s charity. The alluringly free-spirited Lily’s only hope to maintain her lavish life style is to marry into money, but the man she loves (Eric Stoltz), a lawyer, hasn’t got much, and she spurns rich men she doesn’t love. Pursuing her desires with an ingenuous sincerity, she risks exposing the falsehoods of other women, who eject her from their social ranks, sending her into free fall without a financial safety net. The tragic contradictions of Lily’s brilliant character—her refined aestheticism, lacerating wit, and heedless passion—are matched by Davies’s rapturous yet rueful display of the era’s sumptuous fashions and furnishings, which quietly shudder with the crushing power of the unwritten laws that sustain them. The movie, long unavailable, is streaming on Showtime and Prime Video. — Richard Brody

TLW Talk: Dr. Gabrielle Fletcher on “Summer and the so-called White Slave” (Monday, October 31)

Please join us on MONDAY 31st OCTOBER  5pm Glasgow/1pm New York for Tea with the Transatlantic Literary Women, when we’re delighted to be welcoming Dr Gabrielle Fletcher (University of Galway) who will be talking on “Summer and the so-called White Slave”. 

Lindsay has posted the details here: 

CFP: Edith Wharton Panels at ALA 2023

The Edith Wharton Society will sponsor two panels at the American Literature Association 34th Annual Conference on May 25-28, 2023.

The Westin Copley Place
10 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02116

Edith Wharton and Beauty

The Edith Wharton Society invites papers that explore Wharton’s engagement with beauty in her works. Panelists are encouraged to consider the role of beauty in her writing on design, gardens, and travel as well as her novels and stories. All theoretical approaches are welcome. Proposals might consider (but are not limited to) the following questions:

  • What does beauty mean or how is it constituted in Wharton’s work?
  • How do questions of shape, color, or form inflect Wharton’s perspectives on design, art, or fashion?
  • How does affect relate to beauty in Wharton’s works?
  • What is the role of natural beauty in Wharton’s texts?
  • How are Wharton’s characters affected by beauty?
  • How is beauty gendered, raced, or classed in Wharton’s work?
  • What is the relationship between beauty and cosmopolitan taste in Wharton’s texts?

Please submit a 250-300 word abstract and a brief CV by January 5, 2022. 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.

Please send to 

American Literature Association

34th Annual Conference

May 25-28, 2023

The Westin Copley Place
10 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02116

Edith Wharton and Weather: Culture, Climate, and Change

There’s a lot of weather in Edith Wharton’s writing: storms, snow, heat, and wind. Among other questions, proposals might consider the following:

  • How do climactic phenomena trigger, mirror, provoke human behaviors and reactions?
  • How do Wharton’s sensibilities as a traveler, gardener, and interior designer inform her approaches to weather and vice versa?  
  • How does weather figure into Wharton’s status as realist, sentimentalist, satirist, or modernist?

Please submit a 250-300 word abstract and a brief CV by January 5, 2022. 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.

Please send to and

Call for Conference Reporters/Reviewers for EWS Panels

The Edith Wharton Review seeks reviewers to cover the Edith Wharton Society panels at MLA (San Francisco, January 5-8, 2023) and ALA (Boston, May 25-28, 2023) and any other panels/papers at these conferences focused on Wharton. Reviewers are welcome to take on one or both events. 

Please send a brief introduction and statement of your interests to Rita Bode: as soon as possible but no later than November 30th. Please indicate which conference especially interests you.

The Edith Wharton Review aims for conference reviews of generally 2000-3000 words that should include summaries of the individual papers (topics/themes) and critical reflections on the scholarly directions emerging in Wharton studies.

EWR welcomes reviewers at all ranks, including graduate students. 

We would also appreciate if those with graduate students could alert and encourage their students to take up this opportunity. 

With thanks,

Edith Wharton Review Editors

Norton Library Event: Sheila Liming on The Age of Innocence (September 14, 2022; 4 p.m EST)

We want to be sure you have an invitation for Wednesday’s Zoom event with Sheila Liming, editor of the new Norton Library Edition of The Age of Innocence
Wednesday, September 14 at 4:00pm Eastern
You and all interested students and colleagues can ​​​​​RSVP here to receive a Zoom link to attend. All are welcome.

In her talk, Liming will discuss  why the work has endured as an often read (and taught) work. The event will conclude with an audience Q&A and is part of our Norton Library and Norton Critical Editions Speakers Series. Curious about the differences between the two series? Learn more here.

If you’re interested but cannot attend live, I encourage you to register anyway since a recording of the event will be emailed to all registrants.

The Norton Library edition of The Age of Innocence ​​​​​is out now in paperback ($10.00 retail from our site) and will release soon in ebook ($8.00 from our site). It contains Liming’s introduction, the text, and helpful endnotes.

The Norton Library Team

Queries: Membership Page

I just paid for membership with Pay Pay. It then said to return to page, but the page was gone. I don’t believe the Edith Wharton Society has my information.

Name: Kathy Geren Christy

Dear Ms. Christy,

This should have gone through all right, but if you’d like to check, please contact The Membership Committee Chair, Sheila Liming, Champlain College, She has access to the membership records.


Donna Campbell

 Vote for EWS positions and changes to Constitution and By-laws (vote closes 9/26/22)

Dear EWS members,

Voting is now open for the positions of Secretary and Members-at-Large for the 2023-25 term and for approving or disapproving of two constitutional amendments, which were discussed at the MLA and ALA meetings. The first establishes how Edith Wharton Review editors will be chosen. The second establishes how Treasurers will be chosen and removes the position of co-Treasurer.

Society members, please use the link sent to your email to affirm or not affirm the nominated candidates for each position and to approve or disapprove the amendments. Voting closes 9/26/22. 

The voting link is here:

You can see the wording of the ballot questions below.


Survey questions:

  1. Should Arielle Zibrak be elected Secretary of the EWS? (Y/N)

    Arielle Zibrak is Associate Professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wyoming, where she also directs the English Honors Program. She is the editor of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence: New Centenary Essays (Bloomsbury, 2019) and the author of Avidly Reads: Guilty Pleasures (New York University Press, 2021). 

    Her writing on literature, gender, sexuality, and popular culture has been published in American Literature, American Literary History, Arizona Quarterly, The Baffler, Criticism, The Edith Wharton Review, ESQ, The Los Angeles Review of Books, LitHub, McSweeney’s, The Toast, and Women’s Studies. She has given numerous conference presentations on Wharton’s work and has been invited to speak on Wharton at The Mount and by the good folks at SUNY Brockport. She previously served as an Executive Board Member At-Large of the EWS.
  1. Should Anna Girling and Stacy Holden be elected to the two open positions of EWS Board Members-at-Large? (Y/N)

    Anna Girling

    I recently completed my PhD at the University of Edinburgh in the UK; my thesis was (broadly!) on Edith Wharton and European literary decadence. I have been a member of the Edith Wharton Society since the early days of my PhD, and the society has shaped my research, and intellectual life, in numerous ways. I was fortunate to win the Prize for a Beginning Scholar for an essay on alchemy in The Touchstone, and this went on to be published in the Edith Wharton Review – and I have also published in the EWR and the Times Literary Supplement about Wharton’s correspondence with her early British publisher, John Murray (which I found at the National Library of Scotland). I have been part of society panels at the ALA and the MLA, and attended the Wharton in Washington conference in 2016, and the online keynotes and discussions as part of the pandemic version of the Edith Wharton’s New York conference in 2020. My future research plans involve a project looking at Wharton’s Cold War publication history – which I have funding (including from the Edith Wharton Society) to travel to the US for later this year, and which I will be working on while an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of English Studies in London. I am aware that none of this research would be possible – let alone enjoyable – without the work, both academic and collegial, of present and past members of the Edith Wharton Society, and I am very keen to play my part in the life of the society.

Stacy Holden

My name is Stacy E. Holden, and I am self-nominating for Member-at-Large position.  I joined the Edith Wharton Society about five years ago.  I am an Associate Professor of History at Purdue University.  My research and teaching focus on the Middle East and North Africa as well as US engagement with the Arab world.  Studying Wharton’s literary work and life experiences have opened a window onto US policymaking in the early twentieth century.  I am currently completing research on a book project, “Edith Wharton’s Morocco: The Origins of American Intervention in the Arab World.” My work examines how Wharton used her influence as an author and an elite American to normalize the idea of Western imperialism in the Arab world.  A synopsis of my research was published in History Today, and I am now organizing a tour of “Edith Wharton’s Morocco.”  As Member-at-Large, I hope to continue to foster connections with historians interested in topics that can be illuminated in her archival papers (medical knowledge, preservation practices, book marketing are examples of such topics).  I hope to assist in organizing the next biennial meeting, and I would also like to organize a future meeting at the Tangier American Legation Museum, the former US consulate of Morocco.

  1. Should the following amendment to the EWS By-laws be approved? (New amendment language is in bold.) (Y/N)

    Revisions to EWS Bylaws (EWR):

    5.6. The Editor of the Edith Wharton Review shall prepare the Review. The Editor may appoint an Associate Editor to assist with these functions and to sit in on Executive Board meetings when the Editor is not available. The editorial team consists of an editor and up to three associate editors.

     The editors shall be chosen as follows:

    1.     To select Associate Editors, the journal puts out an open call for an Associate Editor who will join the editors’ team. The new Associate Editor is selected by the current Editor and Associate Editors in consultation with the EWS Board.

    2.     A new Editor is selected from among all the Associate Editors in consultation with the EWS Board and the outgoing Editor. 

    3.     Should this fail in any way, the journal puts out an open call for an Editor and follows the selection and consultation criteria specified above.
  1. Should the following revisions be adopted to the EWS Constitution and By-laws? (Y/N)

    1.     Remove all references to “Co-Treasurers” from the Constitution, replacing it with “The Treasurer” (3.1, 3.5, 5.1).

    2.     Add an explanation of the appointment processes for the Treasurer and Treasurer-Elect:

    5.5 The Treasurer is appointed by the President, in consultation with the Executive Board, for a two-year term. When possible, an incoming Treasurer will be appointed a year in advance and serve as Treasurer-Elect while learning the position from the Treasurer. The Treasurer shall keep financial records and maintain stewardship of the finances of the Society, including a tally of all accounts and expenditures, annual tax filings and incorporation paperwork, when appropriate. The Treasurer will present a report, in writing, at least once annually to the Executive Board on the financial status of the Society, including a written report on all income to and disbursements of the Society.  The Treasurer shall have signing privileges and access to the EWS financial accounts to enable the officers and conference directors to carry out the necessary business of the Society.

    5.7.  Each officer and member at large shall serve for a term of two years.

    7.1.  Officers and members of the Executive Board shall be elected by online or e-mail ballot, except for officers who are designated by another process outlined in the Constitution.  Paper ballots will be provided upon request for those with no Internet access.

TLW Online Event 7 September 2022 5 p.m. UK/12 noon EST: Professor Etta Madden on ‘Revising Daisy Miller: The Story of Miss Jones’

Dear Whartonians 

Huge thanks to everyone who joined us for the Transatlantic Literary Women Summer Club over the past few months. It’s been great to see you! Chiara, Lindsay and I have loved talking with everyone and learning more about exciting individual projects. 

Now it’s September (how?), we’re kicking off the new series of monthly talks, TeawithTLW. We very much hope you’ll join us! All welcome.  

Our first event is Wed 7 September 5pm UK/noon New York, when the brilliant Etta Madden will be drawing from research for her exciting new book, Engaging Italy: American Women’s Utopian Visions and Transnational Networks.  

Details below. Hope to see you there! 

Take care. All best- Laura