Stephen Crane Panels at ALA 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Session 10-B Culture and Context in Stephen Crane’s Work
12:40-2:00 p.m. 
Organized by the Stephen Crane Society

Chair: Paul Sorrentino, Virginia Tech

1. “Creative Destruction: Conflagration, The Newspaper Sketch, and Stephen Crane’s ‘The Monster,’”
Jennifer Travis, St. John’s University
2. “Tommie’s Resurrection: The Role of the Impoverished Child in Stephen Crane’s New York
Sketches,” Maggie Morris Davis, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
3. “Re-reading the Animals in Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage,” Qizhi Shu, Xiangtan

Session 12-K Business Meeting: Crane Society
University/University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Session 11-H Culture and Context in Stephen Crane’s Work
2:10-3:30 p.m. 
Organized by the Stephen Crane Society

Chair: Benjamin F. Fisher, University of Mississippi

1. “’A Spector of Reproach’: Revisiting Figures of Shame in The Red Badge of Courage,” Keiko Nitta,
Rikkyo University/Yale University
2. “Stephen Crane’s Literary Journalism and the Limits of Liberalism in the Progressive Era,” Clemens
Spahr, Mainz University
3. “Structures of Feeling within Stephen Crane’s ‘The Blue Hotel,’” Robert Welch, Indiana University of

Session 12-K Business Meeting: Crane Society

3:40-5:00 p.m. 

New Whitman Digital Resource: Letters from his mother, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman


   Wesley Raabe, an assistant professor in the Department of English at Kent State University, has edited the letters of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, mother of the poet Walt Whitman. Her 170 letters and a new introduction have been published under the title “walter dear”: The Letters from Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Her Son Walt on the Walt Whitman Archive, and they are now freely available to scholars and to the general public.

   The newly published letters feature digital facsimiles, authoritative transcriptions, dating, and annotation, and integration with Walt’s and other family members’ letters in the Whitman Archive section entitled “Correspondence.” Scholars for the first time will be able to read Walt Whitman’s letters alongside the replies of his mother, who was by far his most frequent correspondent. The edition also includes a new introduction with a biography. The letters and the introduction are online at


   Walt Whitman described his mother as “illiterate in the formal sense,” but he also proclaimed his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, to be the “flower of her temperament active in me.” Louisa’s letters illuminate the most important relationship in the poet’s life and offer a rare glimpse into the emotional life of a working-class nineteenth-century American woman. Though she lacked formal education, her letters display verbal power and expressiveness, offering insight into the “family usages” that shaped Walt Whitman’s poetry.  


   The letters from Louisa Whitman to Walt span the period from just before the outbreak of the Civil War through a week before her death in May 1873. Her letters helped bind the Whitman family together during the disruptive years of the Civil War and early Reconstruction. The letters to Walt treat mundane everyday life and moments of great family sorrow, and they make incisive observations on Walt’s growing critical reputation and offer curt dismissals of lesser writers.

Edith Wharton Collection at the Beinecke Library to close temporarily beginning in April 2014

From Gary Totten: 

Various Archival Collections to Close Temporarily Beginning in April 2014

Beginning in April 2014, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library will temporarily close various archival collections in preparation for a major building renovation scheduled to start in May 2015. In general, collections that are temporarily closed will be unavailable for six to eight weeks.

Researchers planning to visit the Beinecke should consult the library’s closed collections schedule beforehand to confirm the availability of desired materials. The schedule is currently subject to change, so researchers should check it frequently as they plan their visits.

Over the next year, the library will transfer about 12,000 cartons of collection material to an offsite shelving facility. This work requires the temporary closing of many of the library’s most important and frequently consulted archival collections. While temporarily closed, the collections will be unavailable for consultation in the reading room, classrooms, or for reproduction requests.

The temporary closings will be staggered throughout the year. Among collections slated to close in the spring of 2014 are the papers of Thornton Wilder, Eugene O’Neill, H.D., Langston Hughes, James Weldon and Grace Nail Johnson, and Edith Wharton. Collections to close in the fall of 2014 include the papers of Mable Dodge Luhan, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Variety review of 1918 film of The House of Mirth: “A distinctly rotten mess, well produced”


Katherine Harris Barrymore, the Lily Bart of this film, from

As part of my current book project, Bitter Tastes: Naturalism, Early Film, and American Women’s Writing, I’ve been working with a lot of silent film resources, including reviews, in addition to writing more about Wharton.

Here’s a gem from Variety, August 23, 1918: a review of a  now-lost film adaptation of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.  Excerpts:

It has been scenarioized by June Mathis for Metro, directed by Albert Capellani, photographed by Eugene Gaudio, all of it with rare excellence for the respective efforts, but the layout  is not a good one for a feature picture for the reason that the majority of the principals are a rotten set, not worth wasting time over, especially as none of them get their just desserts.  . . . And so on, etc., until you are led to believe that no one is on the level and it develops that everybody has the goods on everybody else.

At the middle of the fifth reel the aunt having died and left the girl penniless, she seeks work, doesn’t find it, she tries suicide and is rescued in time for a clinch with the lawyer.  The remainder of the cast are left to continue their incessant prowling for affairs with those of the opposite sex. 

A distinctly rotten mess, well produced. 

This was clearly an A-list production. June Mathis was a talented scenarist, famous for discovering Rudolph Valentino, and the French director Albert Capellani directed such notable films as Camille and The Red Lantern

Since Selden (“the lawyer”) arrives in time for a clinch rather than too late, the production delivered what W. D. Howells told her the American public always wanted to see: “a tragedy with a happy ending.” Also of interest to Wharton fans: the cast list includes “Bertha Trenor-Dorset” and “Augustus Trenor-Dorset,” a neat conflation of the Bertha and George Dorset and Judy and Gus Trenor of the novel.

“Rotten mess” though it might have been, it’s too bad that this is a lost film. Wharton would have been pleased, though, that Jolo, the reviewer for Variety, understood the “despicable” nature of the society she described.

Job Posting: Assistant Professor of English – English Education at Washington State University (Deadline: 2.26.14)

Assistant Professor of English – English Education

The Department of English at Washington State University in Pullman, WA seeks a full-time, permanent, tenure-track Assistant Professor specializing in English Education, starting August 2014. A Carnegie RU/VH university, WSU has one of the largest and most distinctive teacher preparation programs in the state. Minimum qualifications include Ph.D. in hand by August 15, 2014, in English, English education, Education, or closely related field; teaching record in secondary schools and at undergraduate level; and a promising and/or proven research agenda.

The department welcomes applications from beginning professors through early career associates; however, any appointment will be made at the assistant professor rank. Candidates with strengths in one or more of the following areas are particularly welcome: young adult literature and literacy; critical literacy and rhetorics; cultural rhetorics; multimodal reading and composing; visual literacy and rhetorics; socially conscious pedagogies; online pedagogies including the use of electronic portfolios, collaborative spaces, and/or social media; assessment.

Faculty in the Department of English currently teach a 2-2 load of undergraduate and graduate courses, and additional course releases are available in pre-tenure years. The department and university provide generous support for research and conference travel, including competitive academic year and summer fellowships.

Applicants should submit a letter of application addressing the qualifications (Cover Letter), a current comprehensive vita (Curriculum Vitae), a maximum 20-25 page sample of scholarly work (Writing Sample), and three letters of reference to Screening will begin February 26, 2014, and will continue until the position is filled.

WSU is committed to excellence through diversity and faculty-friendly policy action, including partner accommodation and NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation programs ( Washington State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action educator and employer.

Happy 152nd Birthday to Edith Wharton

ImageOn January 24, 1862, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. George Frederic Jones of New York City.  Christened Edith Newbold Jones, she would grow up to be a great novelist and short story writer, not to mention poet, dramatist, social satirist, essayist, letter writer, gardener, interior designer, tireless director of French charities and reporter of conditions at the front during WWI, loyal friend, and a great if formidably intimidating hostess.

You can read more about her in the many books and articles that have been written about her since her death (head over to the Edith Wharton Society for some lists), but I just wanted to give her a shout-out here. (And to recognize that the term “shout-out” would have dismayed and amused her, and that she’d have given it to a vulgar character like Elmer Moffatt of The Custom of the Country or Lita of Twilight Sleep to show just how trashy they were.)

The short version of this post?  Go read Edith Wharton.  You won’t be disappointed.