Legacy Roundtable I: Looking Back
Jennifer S. Tuttle, University of New England
This Roundtable discussion among scholars of American women’s literature focuses on the origins of Legacy—how and why it was created, as well as what choices were made regarding the journal’s scope and content. The questions for this section are as follows: How has your association with Legacy related to your academic and scholarly life and career? Over the past twenty-five years of Legacy‘s publication, is there a particular essay you remember that was especially important to you? Why were Legacy‘s particular feature sections (Profiles, From the Archives, Reprints, Bookshelf) developed? How do they contribute to the journal’s identity and mission? What do you envision as Legacy‘s unique identity in the world of scholarly journals? Joanne Dobson recalls her work on helping with Legacy‘s creation in 1983 with Karen Dandurand and Martha Ackmann, and the wording from the original proposal for the journal is included. Respondents then discuss what role Legacy has played in their scholarship and how the journal has fostered collegiality and mentorship. The respondents also comment on the uniqueness of the journal’s subject matter as compared to other similar publications, as well as its overall importance to the field.
Legacy Roundtable II: Looking Forward
Jennifer S. Tuttle, University of New England
This second part of the Roundtable discussion focuses on the future of the study of American women writers and for Legacy, such as what the foci will be for its scholarship and new features that may appear in its pages. The questions for this section are as follows: How might electronic resources supplement the work of Legacy? Can you suggest ways for the journal to take advantage of electronic resources more fully or help its readers do the same? Is the project of recovery complete, obsolete, or in need of revision? What new directions, themes, and emphases might you envision the journal following in the next decade? How might we begin to follow those new paths? Respondents agree that electronic sources have been increasingly used, and they can be used even more; such resources include online databases with current and back issues of journals, as well as sharing ideas and work through listservs. Legacy‘s editors also discuss some of the electronic features that are now complete and others that are works in progress, such as a searchable online index for the journal and a portrait gallery with archival information including live links. Respondents also agree that recovery work has taken great strides, but there is more work to be done—especially as we broaden our notions of who and what “counts” in the work that we do. Finally, respondents give numerous suggestions about what Legacy might focus on in the future, such as taking transnational, theoretical, and comparative approaches to scholarship.
Of Compass Bearings and Reorientations in the Study of American Women Writers
Nicole Tonkovich, University of California San Diego
Nicole Tonkovich uses the 1816/1817 publication A Narrative of the Shipwreck and Unparalleled Sufferings of Mrs. Sarah Allen to frame her discussion of new approaches in studying American women writers. Recovery of such works calls into question some of the assumptions scholars have about the works that we typically scrutinize, and this work in particular raises its own questions about its authenticity and the actions of its characters. The main assumptions that Tonkovich challenges are that American history started and should be focused on the Northeast and that American expansion was entirely toward the West. Sarah Allen’s presence in this text can also push scholars to question women’s roles in such narratives, and Tonkovich overviews Andrew Jackson’s expansion and Indian policies to illuminate why Allen may have been travelling to the Louisiana Territory with her husband; she also discusses the role that Indian women play in the text to challenge notions of manifest domesticity. Still using but moving beyond Allen’s narrative, Tonkovich then presents three ways that scholars can navigate through American women’s texts—by considering what it means to be American through looking at geographical and cultural boundaries (the main focus being on routes of travel and trade across land and sea, which brought diverse peoples into contact); by considering how gender can be challenged by notions of race and class (as seen in the cases of cooks, laundresses, and sex workers who travelled on sailing vessels and as seen in the slave/merchant narrative of Mary Prince); and by rethinking our valuations of written texts in English when we can also focus attention on electronic resources, texts written in languages other than English, oral culture, and artistic forms such as rock art, maps, baskets, and beadwork. Ultimately, Tonkovich argues that these reconfigurations of the ways that we conduct research can aid in the recovery process, for Legacy and elsewhere.
Recovering Recovery: Early American Women and Legacy‘s Future
Theresa Strouth Gaul, Texas Christian University
Theresa Strouth Gaul begins by noting the increasing availability of electronic sources, which aid in teaching and recovery. However, she notes multiple factors that sustain the importance of printed works (such as ease of accessibility and the value of peer-reviewed print sources) and calls on her own experiences with the American Women Writers (AWW) series to transition into her thoughts on the status of recovery work and recent scholarship on American women writers. Her main focus, in conversation with the Roundtable discussions, is on recovery in early American women’s writings, which she argues lags behind recovery in later American periods; in addition, much of the article reviews recently published literature on early American women. Gaul’s Appendix of recently published works by/about early American women reveals that only a few women’s names are familiar to most scholars; most of the works involve life-writing (such as letters and journals); there is a dearth of scholarship on women of color; and several of the novels are newly available, which means that there is ample room for new scholarship and teaching. The first major section of Gaul’s article is on recovering and evaluating the correspondence of women, which is a burgeoning field that calls for more training in how to read such works. The second major section is on early American texts by/about people of color, particularly Native Americans. The third section discusses the rise, fall, and rise again of publishing early American women’s novels, focusing on the role of transnationalism that can help account for these novels’ republications. Gaul concludes with her thoughts on Legacy‘s role in this recovery work, urging the journal to include more scholarship on early periods in America; there is a general lack of scholarship on early American women across major journals, and the recent publications that Gaul has discussed indicate vast areas for further scholarship.
“Across the Gulf”: Working in the “Post-Recovery” Era.
Sharon M. Harris, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Sharon M. Harris opens by resisting the term “post-recovery” as something that suggests recovery work is complete; rather, she suggests that we re-envision our recovery work and its many stages, moving into the phase that she terms “regeneration.” The main issue she confronts is how to engage with already recovered texts while not ignoring the other scholarly “gulfs” that face us. Harris uses the Civil War era as an example of a time period about which a number of scholars have written fairly recently, and she discusses how we might continue to explore women’s writings and culture during this time period. In the first major section on the Civil War era, Harris raises questions about approaching religious discussions and conflicts during this time. For instance, she calls attention to the work and journal of the Woman’s Union Missionary Society of America, the prevalence of Catholic nuns who acted as nurses during the war, and intersections of race and religion. Next Harris calls attention to children’s literature during the era, including a rising interest in science and geography; this section also raises questions about adult women’s education, specifically in the field of medicine because of the war. The third section discusses issues of race, indicating that race law is one area for expansion. In addition to focusing on the Civil War and African American relations specifically, we can also call more attention to the Franco-Mexico War and its impacts on African American, Euro-American, and Latina women; the Second Italian War of Independence (1859-1860), especially in light of Garibaldi’s importance in many American texts of the era; and Red Cloud’s War (1865-1868) between the Lakota and the United States. This discussion on race can expand to include genres such as drama and can also be more inclusive of ethnicity by looking at, for instance, immigrant narratives of the era. The final sections briefly outline major questions regarding the studies of women’s labor, southern literature, history writing by women, American women living abroad, and a focus on textual studies to think about serialization, illustrations, digitalization, and other issues regarding book production.
Embodied Pedagogies: Femininity, Diversity, and Community in Anthologies of Women’s Writing, 1836-2009
Karen L. Kilcup, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The Responsibility is Ours: The Failure of Infrastructure and the Limits of Scholarship
Susan Belasco, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Susan Belasco begins with a discussion of her archival work on two projects, one electronic and one in print: Walt Whitman’s poems as they appeared in periodicals and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s life as it is discussed and constructed in texts such as letters and journals. Using her experience from both of these editorial projects, Belasco outlines problems and solutions for the field, beginning with the argument that more archival sources must be readily available to scholars who lack funding to travel to the physical archives and study them; the case is especially serious for women authors whose archival sources often remain obscured even as we make great strides in recovery. Emily Dickinson, Margaret Fuller, and Harriet Jacobs are examples of women authors whose archival sources are much more accessible because authors and editors have made their work available in print and electronically, and Belasco argues that these women may serve as models for approaching this subject. While Belasco notes the rise in attention to women’s literature in the last thirty years, she argues that making more women’s work accessible is largely the responsibility of universities, which overwhelmingly value the single-authored text for tenure consideration. This mindset stifles some archival, editorial, and collaborative work that could make women’s writings more accessible. Ultimately, Belasco argues that tenure and research standards are set by professors and administrators, so they bear the responsibility for changing attitudes. Professors can use their influence to retool tenure and publications standards; work with libraries and digital centers to make resources more available; aggressively seek funding through internal and external grants to produce innovative print and electronic works; share work (primarily electronically through websites and listservs); and retool the infrastructure that will help ourselves and future scholars access and work with women’s writings.
Excerpt from Anna’s Book by Joanne Dobson
Introduction by Jennifer S. Tuttle, University of New England
From the Archives
Laying Claim to the Land(scape): Chansonetta Stanley Emmons (1858-1937)
Shawn Michelle Smith, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Shawn Michelle Smith notes that Chansonetta Stanley Emmons—a photographer whose work was used to illustrate the 1979 Franklin Library republication of Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories—began her photographic practice in 1897, which was one year after Jewett first published The Country of the Pointed Firs. Smith argues that Emmons’s work captures life in rural Maine and can be examined in much the same way that we examine literary texts—as markers and makers of culture. Emmons’s choices of inclusion and exclusion are rhetorical acts that, like photographs in general, deserve greater attention by scholars whose work has been largely text-based. Smith begins by noting that photography was a burgeoning field for women around this time; she then gives background information on how Emmons got her start and built her career, along with her daughter, Dorothy (as Chansonetta was deaf by the early twentieth century, the mother and daughter travelled, lectured, and presented photographs together). During her career from 1897 to 1937, Emmons captured rural life in Maine and New England through several hundred photographs, a number of which Smith closely reads throughout her article. Smith uses these analyses to argue that Emmons retreated to and idealized rural life at a time when photographers were increasingly turning to the urban and the industrial for their subjects. Throughout, Smith argues that Emmons’s image of the nation is largely nostalgic, racialized, and focuses on elderly people and outmoded ways of life.
On Legacy Profiles
Jennifer S. Tuttle, University of New England
Legacy Profiles Index: Volumes 1.1 through 25.2m, 1984 – June 2009
Lisa M. Thomas, University of California, San Diego
“The Flower Charity. Heaven bless it!”: A Study of Charity in Literature and Culture
Robin L. Cadwallader, Saint Francis University, Pennsylvania
Robin L. Cadwallader opens with an anecdote from Elizabeth Stuart Phelps’s story “The Lady of Shalott” to introduce the phenomenon of flower charities or missions, which operated from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries in order to bolster notions of beauty and moral uplift in Americans. The popular belief is that these missions originated in Boston in 1869 with the work of Helen W. Tinkham, a teacher who believed that too many flowers were left to die in gardens when they could be given to invalids or people in the city—those who were confined to places where they seldom saw the country. The idea spread throughout area churches, and soon thousands of flowers were given every season. The missions spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific, distributing flowers, fruits, and other items. These scattered missions were variously under the supervision of the Women’s Christian Association, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the Children’s Aid Society, but in 1894 the National Plant, Flower and Fruit Guild was established to unite the missions. Different individuals (almost entirely women) would collect, organize, write cards for, and distribute the items to hospitals, orphanages, funeral homes, tenement houses, factories, and the poor on the streets. Children were encouraged to become involved, as the mission believed it could teach them the virtues of charity and time management. Thus, the larger message was that the giving of flowers and other gifts was believed to heal not only the recipients but also the givers. Cadwallader quotes from various mission-related stories in periodicals, church texts, and school readers to demonstrate the roles of these missions.