CFP: The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism

 

Call for proposals

 The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism

Editors: Kenneth K Brandt and Karin M Danielsson

At the end of the 19th century, American authors such as Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, and Jack London were influenced by new advances in science—notably the idea of evolution. Nature and the nonhuman were crucial for these writers,
whom scholars   most often group under the rubric of American literary naturalists. Traditional scholarship on American literary naturalism has closely attended to various environmental pressures in urban and wilderness settings, but scholars have paid much
less attention to the naturalists’ investigations into the nonhuman, such as animals, plants, landscapes, houses, or weather. To extend and deepen our understanding of this under-researched field, we propose a volume of essays that offers a wide variety of
innovative critical approaches to the nonhuman in American naturalist literature. We welcome studies based in ecocriticism, animal studies, new materialism, narrative theory, or ethics. We are receptive to essay proposals focused on the core naturalists from
around 1900 as well as more contemporary writers in the naturalist tradition. Proposals may focus on authors including Crane, Norris, London, Wharton, Garland, Dreiser, Chopin, Dunbar, Sinclair, Twain, Glasgow, Frederic, Cather, O’Neill, Steinbeck, Wright,
Hemingway, Petry, Dos Passos, Larsen, Farrell, Hammett, Cain and others. More recent writers may include Oates, Vonnegut, DeLillo, Morrison, McCarthy, Wilson, Pynchon, and others.

Possible topic areas might include but are not limited to:

  • Animal agency  
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Nonhuman sentience
  • Ecology
  • Ethology 
  • Evolution
  • Farming
  • Forests, trees, plants
  • Houses and other structures
  • Human–nonhuman intersubjectivity
  • Landscape and place
  • Physical or environmental transformations
  • Posthumanism 
  • Speciesism 
  • Technology’s intersections with the nonhuman
  • Weather and climate
  • Wild, feral, and domestic nonhumans

 

The Lexington Books Ecocritical Theory and Practice series editor has expressed a strong interest in the project and has requested a full proposal. It is the publisher’s wish that authors or at least one co-author holds a PhD.

We invite essay proposals of a maximum of 500 words on any topic relating to the nonhuman in American literary naturalism by the deadline of the
8 January 2021. Please include a title, a maximum of five key words, and a brief biography. We aim to reply to respondents by 25 February 2021, and full drafts of essays (5000–8000 words)
will be due 1 September 2021. Please send a 500-word maximum proposal and a brief biography to karin.molander.danielsson@mdh.se and
kbrandt@scad.edu by 8 January, 2021.

Queries: Did Undine Spragg know Shakespeare?

Hi, Wharton is wonderful! Having years ago read Ethan Frome, and more recently The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, I now find myself enthralled with The Custom of the Country, bringing me to my question. Undine’s early thoughts on Peter Van Degen lead to her conclusion that all the offerings of life “seem stale and unprofitable outside the magic ring of the Society Column.” Is it reasonable to assume Wharton knew her Shakespeare well enough to intentionally and selectively leave the other two adjectives, “weary” and “flat”, out of Hamlet’s soliloquy, or is her “stale and unprofitable” mere coincidence? (As there is no evidence that even The Hound of the Baskervilles was actually Undine’s, I have a hard time imagining The Bard on her reading list.) Many thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.

Sincerely, Dr. Bruce Barlam

Wharton in the News: The Age of Innocence: How a US classic defined its era

“The Age of Innocence: How a US classic defined its era” by Cameron Laux

In the first of BBC Culture’s series The American Century, Cameron Laux looks at how The Age of Innocence – published 100 years ago – marked a pivotal moment in US history.A

A funny story. Edith Wharton was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Age of Innocence in 1921 (it was published in 1920), but the jury had originally chosen to award it to Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street. The trustees, the actual powers-that-be within the organisation, to whom it falls to make the final decision based on the advice of the jury, balked at the choice because they thought Main Street was unwholesome. Back then, the prize was to be awarded to a novel “which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life”, and Main Street, a trenchant satire on narrow-mindedness in a small midwestern town, ruffled some self-important feathers. In the book, a married man perhaps has an affair with a neighbour, while his wife contemplates an affair with a younger man, but does nothing about it – these are the only morally racy bits I can come up with. No, the problem was actually political: then, as now, the rural Midwest was considered to be the sacred beating heart of America (Mom and apple pie and all that), and it wouldn’t do to question that myth.

Some of this belief that literature should mind its manners survives to this day. For example, Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, universally acclaimed as masters of the 20th-Century US novel, and both of whom mercilessly target the American dream, have been passed over for Pulitzers. When the 1974 jury unanimously recommended Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (probably among the most important novels ever written), the trustees chose to give no award rather than to give it to him.

If Scorsese takes an interest in something, it must have become part of America’s DNA

But back to Lewis. Another of his books was then awarded the Pulitzer in 1926; supremely annoyed by his first go-around with them, he gave the award back. Then in 1930 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature – surely, one might think, establishing him as a global force in writing. Yet how many people today have even heard of Sinclair Lewis, let alone read one of his books? He has, for the most part, been swallowed by time (as have many of the Pulitzer laureates from that era: Ernest Poole, Margaret Wilson, Edna Ferber, Louis Bromfield, Julia Peterkin…), while Wharton flourishes. She has left him in her dust. In recent decades, two cinematic auteurs have even adapted her books into films stuffed with bankable stars: Martin Scorsese with The Age of Innocence (1993) and Terence Davies with The House of Mirth (2000). If Scorsese takes an interest in something, it must have become part of America’s DNA.

Thanks to EWS member John Tamburello for the link.

(read more here: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20200922-the-age-of-innocence-how-a-classic-defined-its-era)

New Books: L’Amérique au tournant: La place des États-Unis dans la littérature française (1890-1920)

L’Amérique au tournantLa place des États-Unis dans la littérature française (1890-1920)

Includes this article by Virginia Ricard:

Edith Wharton au tournant

  • Abstract: En 1907, la traduction en français du premier grand roman d’Edith Wharton, Chez les heureux du monde, donne l’impression qu’elle est acquise à l’antiaméricanisme, puisque, en présentant des personnages riches, brutaux et insensibles, elle contribue à diffuser une image négative des États-Unis en France. Après août 1914, elle parle même d’un « retard » des Américains. Mais l’entrée en guerre des États-Unis conduit Wharton à regarder d’un autre œil la contribution de l’Amérique à l’histoire humaine.
  • Pages: 145 to 156
  • Collection: Encounters, n° 456

Edith Wharton in the News: Edith Wharton’s Home-Building by Sophie Haigney

From Maureen Montgomery:

Makeshift Refuges: Edith Wharton’s Home-Building

By Sophie Haigney

AUGUST 24, 2020

AT FIRST, THE VISIT was like a fairy tale. In Edith Wharton’s 1912 novel The Reef, George Darrow comes to visit Anna Leath at Givré, the French chateau she inherited from her now-dead first husband. After delays and misunderstandings, the couple finally agrees to an engagement, and Givré seems like the romantic backdrop for their love. For Anna in particular it has taken on a renewed beauty with Darrow’s arrival; she sheds her impression that it is “a dull house, an inconvenient house, of which one knew all the defects, the shabbinesses, the discomforts.” On a drive through the countryside, they even discover a kind of mythical abandoned house:

[T]hey stopped the motor before a ruined gateway, and stumbling along a road full of ruts, stood before a little old deserted house, fantastically carved and chimneyed, which lay in the moat under the shade of ancient trees. They paced the paths between the trees, found a mouldy Temple of Love on an islet among reeds and plantains and, sitting on a bench in the stable-yard, watched the pigeons circling against the sunset over their cot of patterned brick.

Darrow returns to this crumbling, decaying, deserted house in his mind at the end of the day. He and Anna remain separated in the evening, both spatially and conventionally; they have not yet even announced their engagement, and Givré is populated by a cast of entangled characters, including Anna’s first husband’s mother, her daughter, her stepson, a governess, and servants. The deserted house, in a way, is the antithesis of Givré: a space known only to the couple, romantic in its desertion, the cottage complement to the fairy-tale castle. In an early draft of The Reef, Wharton even dubbed it “The Sleeping Beauty house.”

Read the rest at https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/makeshift-refuges-edith-whartons-home-building/

New Translation of “Les Marocaines chez elles” part 1, by Edith Wharton

Screen Shot 2020-08-21 at 9.54.41 AMFrom “Les Marocaines chez elles,” by Edith Wharton, translated by Nandan Kulkarni

I try, while exchanging compliments through our interpreter, to note down the details of their dresses. But how shall I describe the complex jumble of the gauze thrown on the heavy brocades? The lovely movements made with thick silk ribbons in large gold loops which are slipped under their underarms and lift their heavy sleeves? The fullness of the beautiful fabric, with folds like those in a Veronese painting, high above the large rigid belts? And, above all, the incredible complexity of their hair? Their black hair, curled and shaved at the bulge of the forehead, makes only a black line below the gold diadem or cloth band that a jewel holds just above their arched brows… Braids fall over every other part of their face; over their ears, which are laden with heavy earrings, coral pendants, big gold rings with emeralds or pearls, “bijoux de juifs” (jewels of the Jews) made in the blue Mellahs (Jewish quarters) of white cities. The countless necklaces fall on the gleaming of rich caftans, above the little pink, blue, or white gauze frills in the style of Watteau. On a narrow neck of black velvet: necklaces of gold, amber, coral, eccentric combinations of amulets and rough stones crafted in the same goldsmithery in the Mellah. All this forms an ensemble of extraordinary radiance, where the pink gauze blends with the blue and gold brocade, the white gauze with old rose gauze and violet or green-apple belts. Through the group weaves in and out a little négrillon (negro boy) with the sweet little face of Zamor, whose violet silver-spangled caftan is encircled by a beautiful raspberry-pink silk scarf.

***

In the fall of 1917, at the invitation of the French government, Edith Wharton spent three weeks touring Morocco by car. “Like a burst of sunlight between storm-clouds,” this excursion in the middle of the First World War gave Wharton, with unique privileges of access granted by her hosts, the opportunity to observe and then write about what was then, to Westerners, “a country still completely untouched by foreign travel” (A Backward Glance, 358). The tour resulted in a series of articles in Scribner’s and the Yale Review, which were then, reorganized and illustrated with photographs, published in 1920 by Scribner’s as the book In Morocco. While the brevity of her trip prevented her from writing the full-scale tour guide she felt was needed, Wharton did give her book a historical preface using scarce French sources, thus bringing more information about North Africa to a popular Anglophone readership than was previously available. Wharton was also fully aware, it seems, that as much as her book would provide “vivid and picturesque” glimpses of a “curious…beautiful” country “rich in landscape and architecture,” it would also encourage and enable a “deluge” of tourism that would destroy much of what she recorded (In Morocco, ix-xi, passim).

There was one other article in which Wharton documented her trip, an account in French that appeared in La Revue des Deux Mondes in the spring of 1918: “Les Marocaines chez elles,” which includes some observations not duplicated, it appears, in any of her Anglophone publications about Morocco. The partial translation excerpted above, and fully available here, was undertaken by Johns Hopkins University rising junior Nandan Kulkarni as a final project this spring for “Scribbling Women,” an undergraduate course I teach that is cross-listed in English and the Museums & Society program. In this class, we examine the speeches, private writings, and published poetry, fiction, and journalism by a selection of North American women who draw attention in their works to race-, gender-, and class-based inequities. Students especially consider the creation, publication, reception, and legacy of our texts, which date from the 1820s through the 1930s, using rare books, archival materials, and other primary sources. The class culminates in public projects designed to provide broad and accurate access for other potential readers of these texts. With the pandemic-related transition to remote learning, we moved, like so much else this year, from hands-on examinations of materials to digital resources and digital final projects.

We read several short works of fiction by Edith Wharton, looking at their first publication in books and magazines, as well as their current availability in e-books and digital archives. Nandan was intrigued by Wharton’s writing, her long residence in Paris, and her travels, and asked to undertake a translation of one of her French language works for his final project. Wanting to give students as much latitude as possible during a difficult semester, I allowed him to do so although it was not one of our established assignment options—my own French is certainly not at the level of Wharton’s—setting the condition, however, that he would have to find a short text by Wharton originally written in French for which a translation was not already readily available. I was thinking he might translate a few of her letters to Léon Bélugou, from the collection at the Beinecke Library; but, learning that many are already translated in Edith Wharton in France, he found instead, to my surprise, “Les Marocaines chez elles” in a digitized volume of La Revue des Deux Mondes in HathiTrust. We decided that he would translate the first half of it for our class blog, with my editorial supervision. As he explains in his headnote, parts of it are similar to sections of In Morocco but some of it does not seem to have been carried over. We were not able to make a detailed comparison to the English-language essay in the Yale Review (the print collection in our library was unavailable throughout the spring due to pandemic-related closures) but it seems to differ from that version, as well. We look forward to the full translation that is forthcoming in the Travel Writings volume of The Complete Works of Edith Wharton.

—Gabrielle Dean, PhD, William Kurrelmeyer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Johns Hopkins University

(See https://literaryarchive.net/2020/04/28/les-marocaines-chez-elles-by-edith-wharton-section-i/ for the entire translation.)

Voting open for EWS positions (please check your email for the link)

Voting is now open for the positions of Secretary and Members-at-Large for the 2021-23 term. Voting will be open until Tuesday, August 18, 2020. Society members, please use the link sent to your email to affirm or not affirm the nominated candidate for the position of Secretary and to vote for three out of five nominated candidates for Members-at-Large:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5DCRXNP

Here are the bios of each candidate:

Secretary

Margaret Jay Jessee (Jay):

I am Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where I also direct the English Honors Program. I had the honor of co-directing the Edith Wharton’s New York Conference, sponsored by the Edith Wharton Society, and scheduled for June 2020. We were so disappointed to have to cancel the conference due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but I take away from the experience a far greater understanding of the key role officers play in the Edith Wharton Society. Working closely with all of the current society officers, I came to appreciate the significance of our society’s role in promoting and encouraging continued excellence in scholarship on Edith Wharton and continued growth of interest in Wharton among junior scholars and current students. I would enjoy nothing more than to continue my service to the society in the role of secretary. The challenge, as I see it, for the new secretary of the society will be to maintain our connections to each other and to continue to grow the society in the face of cancelled conferences and events. Remote gatherings, digital presentations of scholarship, and virtual events to reach up-and-coming Wharton scholars is vital to the health of our society, and I would be delighted to help facilitate these activities in order to navigate this current “new normal.” In these truly bizarre times, maintaining connections with each other as a society is all the more important, and I see the role of Secretary of the society as integral to communication among our current members and to potential new members. I would be honored to serve, and I appreciate your consideration of my nomination.

Members-at-Large 

Nir Evron: 

Nir Evron is a senior lecturer (assistant professor) and chair of the Department of English and American Studies at Tel Aviv University. He specializes in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century contexts, and has published articles on a host of themes, including American realism and regionalism, American pragmatism, liberalism, the crisis of the humanities, literature and philosophy and more. His forthcoming book, The Blossom Which We Are: The Novel and the Transience of Cultural Worlds (State University of New York Press, 2020) is a comparative, historicist project that examines the trope of cultural extinction from the late eighteenth to the late twentieth centuries. Its test cases include Maria Edgeworth, Walter Scott, Edith Wharton, Joseph Roth, Yaakov Shabtai and others.

 Alice Kelly:

Alice Kelly is a literary and cultural critic based at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on early twentieth-century literary and cultural history in Britain and America. She is the author of Commemorative Modernisms: Women Writers, Death and the First World War (2020), which includes a chapter on Edith Wharton. She has previously published a critical edition of Edith Wharton’s First World War reportage, Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort (2015), and various essays on modernist and First World War literature, including a previously unknown First World War story by Edith Wharton in the Times Literary Supplement. She has held Fellowships at Yale University, New York University, and the Huntington Library, Pasadena. In 2017-18 she was the recipient of a British Academy Rising Stars Award for her interdisciplinary series Cultures and Commemorations of War.

Laura Rattray:

Laura Rattray is Reader in American Literature at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Her work on Wharton includes, as editor, Edith Wharton in Context (2012), The Unpublished Writings of Edith Wharton (2009), Summer (2015) and, with Jennifer Haytock, The New Edith Wharton Studies (2019). Laura’s new book, Edith Wharton and Genre: Beyond Fiction is out this summer https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9780230361669. She is on the editorial board of the Edith Wharton Review and is currently working with Susan Barile on an edition of letters from Wharton to the Berensons.

Virginia Ricard:

Virginia Ricard is Assistant Professor of English at Bordeaux Montaigne University. Her recent work on Wharton includes “Edith Wharton’s French Engagement” in The New Edith Wharton Studies (2019), “The Uses of Boundaries: Edith Wharton and Place” in E-rea (16.2 | 2019), “‘Isn’t That French?’’” in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence (2020), “Edith Wharton au tournant” in L’Amérique au tournant – La place des États-Unis dans la littérature française
(1890-1920)
(forthcoming Classiques Garnier September 2020) and “Edith Wharton, Translator” forthcoming in Transatlantica (2021). She is on the editorial board of the Edith Wharton Review and is currently working on an edition of Wharton’s correspondence with Charles Du Bos. She is co-editor of volume 29 of the Complete Works (OUP).

Meg Toth:

Meg Toth is Professor of English and the director of the film studies minor at Manhattan College. Her research interests include late nineteenth and early twentieth century U.S. literature, film, and adaptation studies. Her scholarship on Edith Wharton has been published in such journals as Modern Fiction Studies and the Journal of Narrative Theory and in the collections Edith Wharton in Context (ed. Laura Rattray) and Edith Wharton and Cosmopolitanism (ed. Meredith Goldsmith and Emily Orlando). Her current book project, After Innocence: Edith Wharton and Post-War Writings on Art and Faith, is an intertextual study that focuses on the figure of the artist and forms of spirituality in Wharton’s late works. She recently co-directed, with Margaret (Jay) Jessee, the conference Edith Wharton’s New York (2020).

With many thanks to all the candidates for running and to the society members for voting,

Sincerely,
Myrto

Myrto Drizou

Assistant Professor of English

Department of Western Languages and Literatures

Boğaziçi University

Update to Call for Nominations (deadline: July 31, 2020)

Dear Edith Wharton Society members,

Please excuse the repeated reminders but we would like to make a correction to the previously circulated call for nominations for incoming officers of the Board. At this time, we are accepting nominations for the position of Secretary and three Members-at-Large for the 2021-23 term (please note the change in the number of available positions—three rather than two—for Members-at-Large). Here are descriptions of these positions according to our Constitution:

Secretary

“5.4.  The Secretary shall take and distribute minutes of all meetings of the Society and of the Executive Board and shall forward minutes to the Web Master for posting on the society’s web page. The Secretary shall coordinate the nominations of new members of the board.”

5.7 “To achieve continuity, officers shall ordinarily succeed one another in this order: the Vice-President shall become President, and the Secretary become Vice-President, and the President become the Immediate Past President.”

Member-at-Large

Members-at-Large may be asked to adjudicate the EWS prizes, and they have the option of organizing, or deputizing someone to organize, the guaranteed EWS panel at NEMLA, SAMLA, and other regional MLA conferences (5.9).

For further information about these positions, please review our Constitution at

https://edithwhartonsociety.wordpress.com/membership/constitution-and-by-laws/.

If you have any questions about either position, please feel free to contact any current Society officer, including President Melanie Dawson (mvdaws@wm.edu), Vice President Jennifer Haytock (jhaytock@brockport.edu), or Secretary Myrto Drizou (myrto.drizou@boun.edu.tr) for further information.

Candidates must be members in good standing of the Edith Wharton Society. Membership dues can be paid here:

https://edithwhartonsociety.wordpress.com/membership/

Please email Myrto Drizou with nominations by Friday, July 31, 2020. Please include which position you are nominating yourself for and a one-paragraph biography. A voting period will follow the close of the nomination period.

To vote, you must be a member in good standing. I encourage you to check on your membership status (https://edithwhartonsociety.wordpress.com/membership/directory/) and update it if necessary. Please don’t hesitate to contact our membership coordinator Sheila Liming (sheila.liming@und.edu) with questions about your membership.

Wharton in the News: The Best Seller Who Hated Best Sellers by Sheila Liming

whartonmain1For all her successes, Edith Wharton made a habit of spurning the conditions of her own fortune. She became the first female novelist to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1921—for The Age of Innocence—only to wind up mocking the prize less than a decade later. In her novel Hudson River Bracketed (1928), she describes the thinly veiled “Pulsifer Prize” as a sham, the product of a “half-confessed background of wire-pulling and influencing.” By the time she was honored again by the Pulitzer committee—this time by proxy, for playwright Zoe Akins’ 1935 adaptation of one of her novellas, The Old Maid—Wharton had distanced herself from the prize and its milieu.

Her relationship with motion pictures was similarly detached, even as she received consistent financial benefit from the industry throughout the final decades of her life. In a 1926 letter to a friend, she comments, “I have always thought ‘The Age’ would make a splendid film”—which it did many years later, in 1993, in the hands of Martin Scorsese. But before that,it was made into a silent film by Warner Brothers in the 1920s, along with many of her other novels. Wharton’s sale of film rights to her 1928 novel The Children fetched her $25,000 (more than $350,000 in today’s dollars). She used the money to help maintain multiple French residences, even as she declined to enter a movie theater during her lifetime. Indeed, she remained totally uninterested in films, even those based on stories she had invented.

Read the rest at Lapham’s Quarterly, https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/roundtable/best-seller-who-hated-best-sellers