Dear EWS members, Many thanks for voting on the recent proposed changes to the Constitution! I’m pleased to report that both amendments–to hold the Board meeting virtually and to create the position of Archivist–passed unanimously. Many thanks to Donna Campbell for running our online election and making the changes to our Constitution. Please look for a call for submissions for EWS awards this week or next. All best,Jennifer
This online program will be streamed live via Zoom. Registration closes one hour prior to the event start time.
In this illustrated online talk, writer and food historian, Carl Raymond will present an overview of how food and dining are represented in Wharton’s major fiction and memoir.
Attendees will get a sense of how Wharton used food and dining to convey character and background in passages from some of her most memorable work. Raymond will also present examples from Wharton’s own life including food memories from her childhood as well as insight into how she designed her own dining rooms and her thoughts on entertaining. In addition, attendees will come away with a glimpse of how dining functioned in the overall Gilded Age society and how it defined social class.
Join us for an enlightening book talk with Julie Olin-Ammentorp, who will discuss her book Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and the Place of Culture. Olin-Ammentorp will be joined by National Willa Cather Center archivist Tracy Tucker, as she discusses the at once parallel and distinct lives of two of America’s greatest writers. Ticket holders will receive a Zoom link to this event before the event’s start time. All virtual events are scheduled for central standard time.
The Edith Wharton Society invites proposals for a SSAWW roundtable (Baltimore, Nov 4-7, 2021) focused on the conference theme of “Ecologies, Survival, Change.” Proposals may cover any aspect of Wharton’s work, gardening, or environmental, political, or interpersonal contexts. “Ecologies” may also encompass systems and networks beyond the natural world. Please send 150-word proposals and short narrative cv’s to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 19, 2021.
February Tea with the Transatlantic Literary Women Dr Emily Orlando on The Decoration of Houses Wednesday 3 February 2021, 5pm UK time
“Sheltering in Place with Edith Wharton: Re-Reading The Decoration of Houses in a Time of Global Crisis”
Please join us for our February #TeawithTLW when we’re delighted to be joined by renowned Edith Wharton scholar, Dr Emily Orlando. This month, we’re discussing Edith Wharton – the prominent design writer! Emily will be talking about Wharton’s first book, the hugely influential The Decoration of Houses, which was co-written with the American architect Ogden Codman Jr. In her talk, Emily will be asking the question: how does Wharton’s design work speak to us anew in a global pandemic? She will discuss the many ways that the 1897 book resonates with 21st-century readers, providing a new look at one of Wharton’s texts from a contemporary perspective. So, pop the kettle on and make sure you have a snack, to settle in for a wonderful discussion of one of TLW’s favourite authors!
If you’d like to join us, please email: email@example.com and we’ll send you a secure Zoom link in the week of the event. We hope to see you there! Team TLW: Laura, Chiara, Lindsay #TeawithTLW
Dear EWS Members, I’d like to ask you to vote on two amendments to the EWS Constitution. The first is from the Executive Board proposing that the annual Board meeting, in the past held in person at the MLA convention, in the future be held in a virtual format such as Zoom. Please see the attached proposal for further details.
The second amendment is from Melanie and me, originally drafted in 2019, to create the position of Society Archivist. Due to an error or oversight no longer in anyone’s memory, this was not voted on in 2019. I would appreciate your vote now, particularly since we have already filled the position and Carole Shaffer-Koros has already located items of interest related to EWS history. This full proposal is also attached.
In spite of illness, in spite even of the arch-enemy sorrow, one CAN remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways. Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance
Published in 1913, “The Custom of the Country” follows the social rise of Undine Spragg, a fictional character who, in many ways, feels very modern.
By Claire Messud
Jan. 20, 2021
This essay is part of T’s Book Club, a series of articles and events dedicated to classic works of American literature. Click here to R.S.V.P. to a virtual conversation, led by Claire Messud, about “The Custom of the Country,” to be held on Jan. 28.
“The Custom of the Country”(1913),like much that Edith Wharton wrote, can be described as a novel of manners. That’s to say, a social fiction in which the carefully observed customs of a particular society shape the characters’ actions and the plot. The designation somehow implies frivolity, or at least, traditionally, the feminine or domestic sphere (Jane Austen could be considered the first author of such works); and in this period of profound crisis in American society, it might seem easy to dismiss the relevance of such diverting works.
In this case, Wharton follows the social rise (and rise) of beautiful young Undine Spragg (named after her grandfather’s patented hair-crimper), who arrives in New York City from the fictional town of Apex City, Iowa, in the company of her newly moneyed, wide-eyed parents, Abner and Leota. She initially takes instruction on New York society’s hierarchies from gossip columns and her manicurist, but Undine’s looks soon gain her entrée into conversation with a fashionable portraitist named Popple, and then an invitation to dine at the home of the elegant Fairfords, where Mrs. Fairford’s brother, Ralph Marvell, pays her particular attention. On their eventual honeymoon, he’ll introduce her to European and in particular Parisian society, thereby widening the horizons of Undine’s social ambition: New York comes to feel provincial and dull next to Paris.
The EWS invites proposals for roundtable presentations (7-8 minutes) on work in relation to Wharton’s writing and life. Presenters might consider issues of class and labor; disability; domestic work; art and the literary market; “works” of art; the value/currencies of work; Wharton as worker; and more. Any theoretical or contextual approaches welcome.
Please submit titled proposals (approx. 350 words) and a brief CV by March 15, 2021 to Jennifer Haytock at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.