Conference News Archive

  • Current Calls for Papers at the EWS site Conference News Archive at the EWS site Conferences of the Edith Wharton Society
    Conference News page at the EWS site Topics from Edith Wharton Conferences : 2000 2003 2005 2008 2012
  • Edith Wharton Panels at the American Literature Association in Boston

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 4:30 – 5:50 pm

     Session 6-B Edith Wharton and the Aesthetic (Marriott Arlington)

    Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Gary Totten, North Dakota State University

    1. “’Our Literary Aristocrat‘: Edith Wharton, Social Class, and The Writing of Fiction,” Julie Olin-Ammentorp, Le Moyne College

    2. “Wharton, Atherton, and the Aesthetics of Age,” Melanie Dawson, College of William and Mary

    3. “Wharton‘s Guide to Novel-writing: Hudson River Bracketed and The Gods Arrive,” Ann L. Patten, Trinity College Dublin

    4. “Edith Wharton and the Problem of Progress,” Rafael Walker, University of Pennsylvania

    Friday, May 27, 2011 9:40 – 11:00 am

    Session 8-B Realism, Naturalism, and the Powers of Horror in Edith Wharton's Writing (Essex Center) Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Meredith Goldsmith, Ursinus College

    1. “Mountain Iconography: Charity's Uphill Descent in Edith Wharton's Summer,” Bill Hardwig, University of Tennessee

    2. “Queering the Uncanny: The Psychic Vampire in Viereck's The House of the Vampire and Wharton's ‘The Eyes,’” Sharon Kehl Califano, Hesser College

    3. “The "Habit(u)s and Tastes" of Edith Wharton's Gothic: Class, Ghosts, and Architecture in ‘Afterward‘ and ‘The Lady's Maid's Bell,‘“ Gillian Nelson Bauer, Loyola University Chicago

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    11:10 am – 12:30 pm

    Session 9-N Business Meeting: Wharton Society (Parliament 7 th Floor)


    Edith Wharton Sessions at MLA 2011, Los Angeles

    Thursday, 06 January

    101. Edith Wharton and Travel

    3:30–4:45 p.m., Platinum Salon G, J. W. Marriott

    Program arranged by the Edith Wharton Society and the Discussion Group on Travel Literature

    Presiding: Gary Totten, North Dakota State Univ.

    1. “The ‘Guide-Book Tourist’ versus ‘The Cultivated Minority of Travellers’ in Edith Wharton’s Travel Writing,” Frederick Wegener, California State Univ., Long Beach

    2. “‘The Banalities and Promiscuities of Modern Travel’: Female Cosmopolitanism and Transnational Capital in Edith Wharton’s In Morocco,” Andrea Bebell, West Virginia Univ., Morgantown

    3. “The Frenchwoman Dépaysée: Edith Wharton’s French Ways and Their Meaning, Gabrielle Landormy, and the Transnational Body,” Donna M. Campbell, Washington State Univ., Pullman

    Respondent: Gary Totten

    For abstracts, write to


    Friday, 07 January

    294. Edith Wharton on Rodeo Drive

    1:45–3:00 p.m., Diamond Salon 7, J. W. Marriott

    Program arranged by the Edith Wharton Society

    Presiding: Margaret P. Murray, Western Connecticut State Univ.

    1. “Intersections of Consumer Culture: ‘Twilight Sleep’ and ‘The Children’ in Pictorial Review,” Noreen O’Connor, King’s Coll.

    2. “Jewelry and Women’s ‘Big Bribe’ in Wharton’s Twenties Novels,” Jenny Glennon, Univ. of Oxford

    3. “From Wharton’s Lilies to Bushnell’s Lolas: Edith Wharton and the New Narcissism,” Emily J. Orlando, Fairfield Univ.

    4. “The ‘Wanamaker Touch’ in Fiction,” Ann L. Patten, Univ. of Dublin, Trinity Coll.


  • Edith Wharton Papers at SSAWW 2009, October 22-24, Philadelphia

    Thursday, 11-12:15

    Recovery and Discoveries (Ballroom E1)

    Chair: Mary Chinery, Georgian Court University,

    1. Mary Chinery, Georgian Court University, “A Tale of Two Ediths: Edith Wharton, Edith Gould, and the Play, ‘The Man of Genius’

    2. Colleen M. Martell, Lehigh University, “‘To live as if to live and love were one’: Feminist Configurations of Love, Embodiment, and Resistance to Oppression in the Fictionalized Autobiography of Mary Gove Nichols”

    3. Priscilla Vance Leder, Texas State University-San Marcos, “Voice and Vision in Caroline Miller’s Lamb in His Bosom”

    Friday, 11-12:15

    The Afterlife of the Sentimental Novel (Frampton)

    Chair: Melissa Strong, University of California-Davis

    1. Maura Grady, University of Nevada-Reno, “The Devil Wears Pulp: Female Masculinity in Corporate Chick Lit”

    2. Melissa Strong, University of California-Davis, “Sentimentality in the City: Wharton’s and Richardson’s Working Women”

    3. Julie Wilhelm, University of California-Davis, “Home Sweet Wal-Mart: Where the Heart Is and the Contemporary Sentimental Novel”

    Saturday, 8:-00-9:15

    Literary Last Works (Frampton)

    Chair: Ashley Bourgeois, University of Kentucky

    1. Kathryn Powell, Texas State University, “Committing Silence: The Last Work of Kate Chopin”

    2. Ashley Bourgeois, Texas State University, “In Her (Own) Words: A Conscious Adaptation by Nella Larsen”

    3. Adriana Lechuga, Texas State University, “For Money or Title: A Social and Historic Assessment of Anglo-American Marriages in Edith Wharton's ‘The Buccaneers’”

    4. Elizabeth Welch, Texas State University, “‘If We Had Our Lives to Live Over Again’: Reexamining Cather’s Final Novel”

    Saturday, 8:-00-9:15

    Perspectives on Early Twentieth-Century Literature (Whitpen)

    Chair: Jennifer M. Nader, University of New Mexico

    1. Amy Easton Flake, Brandeis University, “American Anti-Suffrage Fiction: Window to an Alternative Women’s Movement”

    2. Barbara Baumgartner, Washington University, “Missis Flinder’s Abortion”

    3. Debra Bernardi, Carroll College, “Demonic Desires: Constance Fenimore Woolson and Edith Wharton in Italy”

    4. Nancy Helen Von Rosk, Mount Saint Mary College, “The Fragility of Female Solidarity in Edith Wharton’s Bunner Sisters”

    Saturday, 9:30-10:45

    Perspectives on Edith Wharton (The Edith Wharton Society) (Shippen)

    Chair: Hildegard Hoeller, College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center-City University of New York

    1. Margaret Toth, Manhattan College, “Diets, Corsets, and the Technologically-Produced Image: Wharton and Women's Visual Cultures”

    2. Jennifer Glennon, University of Oxford, “Edith Wharton and Scholarly Women”

    3. Amanda White, American University, “‘Organized Beneficence’: Edith Wharton and the Women's Culture of Philanthropy”

    4. Mary V. Marchand, Goucher College,“'The Noisy Play of Montessori Infants': Wharton’s Repudiation of the Women’s Club Movement”

    Edith Wharton Sessions at ALA, May 2009

    Session 4-D New Perspectives on the Novel of Manners

    Organized by The Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Margaret Murray, Western Connecticut State University 

    1.  "The Living is Easy, West of Wharton." Susan Goodman, University of Deleware. 
    2. “The Age of Innocence and Years of Grace : Manners, Compromise, Loss and Life,” Jennifer Haytock. SUNY, Brockport.
     3. "Ghostly Manners: Aesthetics and Influence in Edith Wharton , Henry James and Vernon Lee ," Jane Thrailkill.  UNC, Chapel Hill.

  • Session 5-L Business Meeting: Edith Wharton Society

    Session 12-I After Innocence: Late Edith Wharton

    Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Laura Rattray, University of Hull, UK

    1.  “Edith Wharton’s ‘Book of the Grotesque’: Sherwood Anderson, Modernism, and the Late Stories,” Donna Campbell,  Washington State University

    2. “Edith Wharton's Boom and Bust,” Jenny Glennon, University of Oxford

    3.  “ Hudson River Bracketed and The Gods Arrive: Edith Wharton's American Odyssey,” Cecilia Macheski, LaGuardia  Community College, The City University of New York

    4.  “‘ Land of Contrasts,’ Land of Art: Morocco and the Imagination of Edith Wharton,” Adam N. Jabbur,   University of Delaware

    Audio-Visual Equipment Required: Projector for Powerpoint Presentation

  • The Edith Wharton and History Conference, Pittsfield, MA, June 2008.

    Edith Wharton Society Sessions at ALA 2008 in San Francisco

  • Friday, May 23, 9:30-10:50 a.m.Session 8-K Representations of Wharton in the Mass Media (Seacliff A)

    Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Gary Totten, North Dakota State University

    1. “Shorthand for Style: Edith Wharton and Popular Women’s Magazines,” Jessica Schubert McCarthy, Washington State University

    2. “Constructing Edith Wharton: Why the Popular Press Loves Wharton’s Houses,” Elif Armbruster, Suffolk University

    3. “Edith Wharton Meets Aquaman: The Glimpses of the Moon and Imperiled Male Culture in Entourage,” Donna Campbell, Washington State University

    Friday, May 23, 8:00-9:20 a.m. Session 7-M

    Business Meeting: Edith Wharton Society (Pacific H)

    Saturday, May 24, 2:00-3:20 p.m. Session 19-D Edith Wharton and Celebrity (Pacific F)

    Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Meredith Goldsmith, Ursinus College

    1. “‘She only does it for the baby’: Intersections of Celebrity and Maternity in Edith Wharton’s Early Short Stories,” Alison Betts, University of Arizona

    2. “‘Open to the public’: Secrets, Celebrity, and the Epistolary Afterlife in The Touchstone,” Cynthia Port, Coastal Carolina University

    3. "Benevolent Fame: Edith Wharton's Celebrity and The Book of the Homeless," Kristina Huff, University of Delaware

    Edith Wharton Sessions at MLA
    Philadelphia, PA, December 27-30, 2006

    Thursday, 28 December

    163. Narcissism in Edith Wharton’s Works

    10:15–11:30 a.m., Liberty Ballroom Salon B, Philadelphia Marriott

    Program arranged by the Edith Wharton Society
    Presiding: Margaret P. Murray, Western Connecticut State Univ.

    1. “Narcissism and the Banality of Evil,” Linda Costanzo Cahir, Kean Univ.
    2. “Denying Himself No Thing: Major Chris Fenno as the Cultural Psychoanalyst’s Aggressive Narcissist,” Kristin Lauer, Fordham Univ., Lincoln Center
    3. “Looking into the Haunted Verge: Narcissism and Self-Recognition in Wharton’s Ghostly Tales,” Elsa Nettels, Coll. of William and Mary
    4. “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Self-Fixation and Inauthenticity in The Custom of the Country,” Frederick Wegener, California State Univ., Long Beach
    5. “Narcissism for the Nation: Undine Spragg and Patriotism in The Custom of the Country,” Donna M. Campbell, Washington State Univ., Pullman

    Edith Wharton Society Dinner

    Saturday, 30 December

    771. Nation, Race, and Citizenship in Edith Wharton’s Works

    1:45–3:00 p.m., 303, Philadelphia Marriott

    Program arranged by the Edith Wharton Society
    Presiding: Donna M. Campbell, Washington State Univ., Pullman

    1. “Domesticating the Europeanist Presence in The Age of Innocence,” Teresa Tavares, Univ. of Coimbra
    2. “Edith Wharton’s Reading Nation(s) and the First World War,” Shafquat Towheed, Univ. of London
    3. “American Orientalism, the Decoration of Houses, and Edith Wharton’s Late Novel of Manners,” Junehee Chung, DePaul Univ.

    A short EWS business meeting will be held during this session at the end of the paper presentations.

    Agenda items:

    1. . Announcement of election results.
    2. Announcement of the Edith Wharton Essay Prize winner.
    3. Announcement of the Wharton Conference in June 2008 at the Mount.
    4. Announcement of Edith Wharton Beinecke Research Awards program.
    5. Vote on changes to the process of selecting the panel topic from the floor at MLA and ALA.
    6. Selecting a topic from the floor for next year's MLA.
    7. Other business, if any.

    Edith Wharton Session at the ALA Symposium on American Fiction
    Bahia Hotel and Resort, San Diego, CA
    September 28-30, 2006

    Chair: Margaret Murray, Western Connecticut State University

    1. Mary Ruth Marotte- U of Central Arkansas- "The Birthing Body as Captive Body in Wharton's Twilight Sleep."
    2. Kevin Grauke-La Salle U- "'The Whole World Has Become a Vast Escalator': Ethan Frome, Connoisseurship and the Fading of the Picturesque."
    3. Meg Gillette-Augustana C-"The Coat Hanger in the Closet: Gossip, Secrets and Abortion in Wharton's Summer."
    4. Meredith Goldsmith-Ursinus C- "'What's All This About Wanting?': Consumer Desire in Summer."

    Edith Wharton Sessions at ALA 2006

    Thursday, May 25, 2006
    11:30am – 12:40pm

    Session 3-E Terror and Evil in Edith Wharton’s Works (Pacific Concourse E)
    Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Carole Shaffer-Koros, Kean University

    1. “The Fall of the House of Marvell: Ralph’s Suicide in Wharton’s The Custom of the Country,” Beverly Hume, Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne

    2. “Justice from Edith Wharton: The Silent Revenge of ‘Kerfol’,” Margaret Murray, Western Connecticut State University

    3. “The Terror of Loneliness in ‘Miss Mary Pask’,” Helen Killoran, Ohio State University

    4. “Haunted Crime: Terror and Evil in Edith Wharton’s ‘All Souls’,” Jacqueline Wilson-Jordan, Western Illinois University

    Thursday, May 25, 2006
    1:00pm – 2:20pm

    Session 4-K Business Meeting: Edith Wharton Society (Pacific Concourse H)

    All (even non-EWS members) are invited to attend. One panel for next year's ALA session will be chosen from topics presented from the floor; the proposer will chair the panel. Chairs are expected to join the EWS before the next ALA convention if they are not already members. Those proposing topics are encouraged to check the list of topics from previous sessions so that their suggestions will not repeat the subjects of previous panels.

    Friday, May 26, 2006
    5:00pm – 6:20pm

    Session 15-D Physicality in Edith Wharton’s Fiction (Pacific Concourse D)
    Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Hildegard Hoeller, College of Staten Island, City University of New York

    1. “‘Jails, Institutions, or Death’: Lily Bart as Addict,” Edie Thornton, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

    2. “The Silent Speech of Cross-Class Desire in The House of Mirth,” Melissa Strong, University of California, Davis

    3. “No Limits: An Analysis of Undine Spragg’s Source of Energy in The Custom of the Country,” Min-Jung Lee, Florida State University

    MLA 2005

  • Thursday, 29 December
  • 502. Wharton, Science, and Technology

    3:30–4:45 p.m., Park Tower Suite 8219, Marriott

    Program arranged by the Edith Wharton Society

    Presiding: Laura Ruth Saltz, Colby Coll.

    1. “Trains, Pains, and Scenes of Emotional Harm: Edith Wharton on the Railroad,” Jennifer Travis, Saint John's Univ., NY

    Wharton’s Ethan Frome foregrounds the underlying tensions between agrarian and industrial America, from the failing farm that Ethan struggles to keep afloat, a failure which is presented in and against the success of merchants like Dennis Eady and Ned Hale, to Ethan's own missed chance at becoming a professional engineer. So too is the railroad that passes in and out of town a barometer of technological advance, and importantly, of psychological decline in the novel. Ethan notes that with the coming of the railroad when he was a young man the local traffic of friends and neighbors ceased. Townspeople no longer passed by his house, paying visit to his mother immobilized with rheumatism. It is the isolation ironically inflicted by the mechanism meant to collapse the distance between people that causes Mrs. Frome to turn "queer": "after the trains began running nobody ever come by here to speak of, and mother never could get it through her head what happened, and it preyed on her right along till she died" (8). Ethan's cousin Zeena, called in to care for his mother, traveled to the Fromes by that same railroad from a village larger and "nearer to the railway" than Starkfield (29). Soon after his mother's death, when Ethan and Zeena decide to marry, he thinks she will be eager to move to a larger town; yet, purchasers for the farm are "slow in coming," and Ethan learns that "in the greater cities which attracted Ethan," Zeena "would have suffered a complete loss of identity" (30). Within a year, the reader is told, Zeena "developed [her] 'sickliness'" (30). In a gesture against anonymity, Ethan and Zeena do not leave Starkfield with the rest of those who boarded the railroad out. Indeed, the railroad and the transforming technological world that once offered Ethan passage from his dreary circumstances come to plague Ethan, as his mother, and, subsequently, Zeena, are estranged in this world, while Ethan himself loses the skills he needs to participate in it. The novel enters this alienation and explores the repercussions and manifestations of its transforming technologies: injuries to the psyche.

    The discourse about injury that sprung up in relation to the railroad gave writers such as Wharton, as well as lawyers, medical professionals, and industry men new analytic terrain upon which the injured body and, crucially, the injured psyche, would become a valid subject for recognition, protection, and quite often, recompense. This paper examines the role of the railroad reconceptualizing the meaning of suffering and injury in the U.S. in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It argues that Wharton used the railroad and the language of injury that it inspired as a vehicle through which to rethink and rewrite woundedness in Ethan Frome. Wharton’s novel asks readers to extend their capacity for acknowledging pain and injury in an increasingly anonymous and impersonal world. Judging and quantifying pain were fundamental to the development of an industrial nation. Not only readers and critics, but beyond the novel, psychologists, lawyers, and judges, among others, were asked to accommodate and account for the seeming proliferation of pain. Wai Chee Dimock calls this “quantify[ing] sentience”; there was great cultural need, beginning in the nineteenth century, “to come up with something like a calculus of pain.” Edith Wharton writes Ethan Frome precisely within this calculus, at a time when not only literary critics, but also law courts and corporations alike questioned whether lay persons could expand their capacity to understand suffering and to compensate injuries to body and mind. Wharton’s response to debates about industry, technology, and injury are at the heart of Ethan Frome.

    2. “Measuring ‘The Distance the World Has Travelled': The Science of Technology and Time in The Age of Innocence ,” Betsy Klimasmith, Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston

    3. “Technologies of Uplift: Race and Beauty in Twilight Sleep ,” Gary Totten, North Dakota State Univ.

    Recent criticism on Wharton as a race writer, most notably by Elizabeth Ammons, Dale Bauer, Jennie Kassanoff, and Augusta Rohrbach, has emphasized the ways in which discourses of race permeate her work. As Kassanoff has noted, “race is the missing but historically crucial component complicating progressive interpretations of Wharton’s project” (61). Additionally, scholars have become increasingly concerned with Wharton’s attitude toward technology, particularly as it relates to the relationships between social life, human bodies, and machines, the “relays between the natural and the technological” that Mark Seltzer has termed the “American body-machine complex” (3). Race and technology become paired concerns in Wharton’s Jazz Age novel, Twilight Sleep (1927), where the ideologies which inform the technologies through which Pauline Manford approaches the issue of bodily uplift also inform the way she thinks about and acts upon the issue of uplifting the race.

    We might term Pauline’s interest in the technologies of body and race as “technologies of the self,” Foucault’s term for the specific ways in which subjects are constructed within and through a society’s power structures. Through such technologies, subjectivity is both consumed and regulated, illustrated in the novel by Pauline’s engagement with technology as it relates to her public appearance, specifically, and, more generally to women’s creation of a public face and body through which they acquire and exert power in a modern world where “loveliness” takes on the “attributes of an advanced industrialism, and babies [become] something to be turned out in series like Fords” (18). Pauline’s engagement with what we might call the “racial/facial politics” of the modern age allows Wharton to interrogate the ways in which ideologies of race and beauty coincide with newly imagined relationships between human beings and technology, and the attendant metaphors and paradigm shifts (epistemic facts, as Foucault would say) that accompany technological progress. Ultimately, I argue, Wharton’s treatment of uplift in terms of both race and beauty in Twilight Sleep belies her own struggle with technological progress as it relates to the upper class white woman.

    Friday, 30 December

    708. French Ways and Their Meaning: Consuming, Collecting, and French Identity in Edith Wharton

    12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Kennedy, Marriott

    Program arranged by the Edith Wharton Society

    Presiding: Donna M. Campbell, Washington State Univ., Pullman

    Business Meeting. A brief business meeting for the Wharton Society will be held at the end of this session.


    1. Vote on changes to the constitution.
    2. Announcement of the winner of the Edith Wharton essay prize.
    3. Announcement of the results of the election for the new EWS board members.
    4. Select a topic from the audience for one of next year's MLA sessions.


    1. “Comparative Atavisms,” Francesca Josephine Sawaya, Univ. of Oklahoma

    In Diane Johnson’s flat new introduction to Edith Wharton’s Custom of the Country (Modern Library, 2001), Johnson argues that Wharton contrasts American and European marriages in order to show the superiority of the latter. She writes:

    The European woman is “the very middle of the picture,” interested in the man’s world and included in it. And if the European woman is in the very center of the picture, it is because, with her superior cultivation, she is more interesting than her intellectually limited American counterpart. (xiii)

    While it is certainly true that Wharton proposes this as a reading of the difference between American and European marriages, it is only one reading she proposes. Wharton’s depiction of Undine’s marriage into French nobility indeed provides a critique of American marriage, but it also provides a scathing critique of French marriage.

    At the estate of Raymond de Chelles, aptly named Saint Desert, the “idle hands” of Undine are contrasted to “the rise and fall of industrious fingers above embroidery-frames” (314) of de Chelles’ mother and sisters. But this contrast underlines a startling similarity. Through Undine’s eyes we come to think quite desperately of the “innumerable rooms of Saint Desert [as] furnished with the embroidered hangings and tapestry chairs produced by generations of diligent chatelaines” (314). If American wives’ main role is to consume conspicuously to advertise their husbands’ pecuniary worth, French wives’ main role is to embroider pointlessly. A chatelaine, according to the OED is the mistress of a castle or an “ornamental appendage…supposed to represent the bunch of keys, etc. of a mediaeval chatelaine.” This notion of a French wife--as a decorative appendage, who anachronistically represents a practical ornament worn during feudalism-- suggests that Wharton’s analysis of French marriage partakes of comparable characteristics to those of her analysis of American marriage.

    In this paper, therefore, I want to compare and contrast Wharton’s analysis of marriage as atavistic—whether American or French. One of the most compelling features of Custom of the Country is the way in which Wharton revises turn-of-the-century feminist analysis of woman’s domestic role in society as atavistic. Thinkers like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Olive Schreiner, and Thorstein Veblen argued that the wife’s domestic role in modern society was a reversion to barbaric practices of the past. By contrast, Wharton tends to parody this analysis, by describing Undine’s husbands as atavistic reversions to the past. Most obviously, this is the case for Ralph Marvell. Wharton writes of him in a famous line, “He seemed to be stumbling about in his inherited prejudices like a modern man in medieval armor” [287]. But I will show that atavism characterizes all of Undine’s husbands—whether French or American.

    Finally, however, it is important to note that Undine herself reverts to the past at one moment in the text. During her marriage to Raymond de Chelles, Undine “wakes” up to “[o]dd atavisms” (319). I conclude my paper by analyzing Undine’s reversions to the past, why French marriage incites this reversion, and what Wharton is telling us here about the comparative atavisms of French and American marriage.

    2. “Wharton and La Bruyère: French Admonitions on American Collecting Practices,” Coby Dowdell, Univ. of Toronto

    Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth (1905) is framed by the placement of French author Jean de La Bruyère’s The Characters, or, The Manners of the Age (1699). As Lily Bart and Lawrence Selden discuss Percy Gryce’s collection of Americana in the opening chapter, Lily returns a first edition La Bruyère to the shelves of Selden’s library. During Lily’s final visit to Selden’s apartment, Selden is seen reading La Bruyère. The prominence of La Bruyère’s text during the discussion of Americana makes sense since the French text contains an extended passage on the vagaries of book collecting. However, the return of La Bruyère’s text at the end of the text insists upon understanding the entire trajectory of the narrative in terms of French attitudes towards American collecting practices. This paper argues that the framing of Wharton’s novel with La Bruyère’s text, not only signals the cultural importance of book collecting during what Robert A. Shaddy considers the “Golden Age” of American book collecting, but highlights the relevance of collecting practices to a critique of leisure class society, a critique that understands resistance to the leisure class society of Wharton’s novel in terms of a foreign “French” withdrawal from American culture.

    During her first visit to Selden’s library, Lily asks, “Don’t you ever mind not being rich enough to buy all the books?”(11). To this query, he “followed her glance about the room, with its worn furniture and shabby walls,” responding: “Don’t I just? Do you take me for a saint on a pillar?”(11). Wharton’s reference to the ascetic pillar saint is ironic in that Selden’s apparent denial of his own asceticism points towards Lily’s adoption of such methods by the close of the narrative, progressing from a life of conspicuous consumption to a life (in death) of complete resignation and withdrawal from leisure society. Wharton’s conflation of collecting practices with ascetic practices presents a strange combination, made all the more obscure by a general understanding of collecting as a product of excess and leisure. This paper considers collecting practices, not only as symptomatic of the consumptive practices of leisure society, but also, counter-intuitively, as ascetic practices that resist the exclusionary social politics of the leisure class. This paper first addresses the more straightforward collecting practices of Percy Gryce and Simon Rosedale, suggesting the ways in which collecting functions as a mode of social mobility from the margins to the centre of leisure class society. Secondly, it considers Lily’s role in collecting, addressing the way in which she functions as both collector and collectible in relation to Lawrence Selden. Thirdly, it evaluates the tragic consequences for Lily of operating as both collectible and collector, understanding her physical decline into chloral addiction, fasting, and death as an ascetic practice akin to that of the pillar saint. By considering the way in which Lily functions as both collector and collectible, this paper seeks to understand how collecting as social practice functions both in opposition to, and in complicity with, leisure class society, representing both the pinnacle of excessive consumption and the apex of social austerity.

    3. “Edith Wharton's ‘Happy Ending': Living and Dying in France,” Celeste Wiggins, Ursuline Coll.

    Throughout her childhood and as a married woman, Edith Wharton had limited opportunities to escape the intellectual and social prisons imposed on her by Old New York society. Upon taking up permanent residence in France in 1912, organizing wartime relief efforts, and immersing herself in French art and culture, she experienced a new-found freedom. Wharton has left us a record of her life in France in numerous letters, articles, and books. Using photographs taken in Paris in 2005 and Wharton’s own words, I will address the question of mutual influence, asking not only how France shaped Wharton, but also what influence she had on her adopted home.

    Information about
    Celebrating the Centenary of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth
    June 23-25, 2005

    Edith Wharton Sessions and Business Meeting at ALA , May 2005

    Session 16-G Edith Wharton and Money
    Saturday, May 28, 2005
    8:00 - 9:20 am
    Essex Center

    Chair: Hildegard Hoeller, College of Staten Island — City University of New York

    1. “'It Cost Him a Visible Effort to Take  a Few Steps…': Wharton's Use of Money as a Signifer of Disability in Ethan Frome,” Christopher Bell, University of Illinois at Chicago.

    2. “Edith Wharton and Money: The Financial Factor on the Axis of Heterosexual and Homosocial Relationships,” Stephanie Taitano, University of Texas , Arlington .

    3. “The Jewish Economy of Risk in The House of Mirth,” Naomi Reed, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

    Session 17J: Business Meeting of the Edith Wharton Society
    Saturday, May 28, 2005
    9:30-10:50 am
    Parliament Room, 7th floor

    Tentative Agenda:

    1.  Old business and announcements (minutes, etc.).
    2.  Informal vote on changes to the constitution for nonprofit status.
    3. Extended deadline for nominations to the Executive Board; three positions available .
    4. Announcement of the Edith Wharton Essay Prize.
    5. Choosing the topics for next year's ALA sessions (suggestions are taken from the floor and voted on immediately; the winning suggestion becomes the topic for next year, and the proposer becomes the chair).
      6. Any other new business.

    Session 18-G Edith Wharton: Critical Perspectives
    Saturday, May 28, 2005 11:00 am - 12:20 pm
    St. George B

    Chair: Carol Sapora, Villa Julie College

    1.      "A Critical Rivalry: The Competing Methods of Mrs. Wharton and Mrs. Woolf," Sharon Kehl Califano, University of New Hampshire .
    2.      "The Critics, The Canon, and Cultural Capital: Edith Wharton as a Short Story Writer," Gary Totten, North Dakota State University .
    3.      "'Wherever You Seize It, It's Interesting': Subject, Class, and Aesthetic Value in Edith Wharton's Critical Prose," Frederick Wegener, California State University , Long Beach .

    MLA 2004

    Edith Wharton Sessions at ALA 2004

    Session 18-B Wharton in Context:  American Fiction in the Twenties
    Saturday, May 29, 2004, 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
    Pacific Concourse D

    Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Judith Saunders , Marist College

    1.   "Thresholds of Desire:  New York City in Wharton and Flanner, " Johanna X.K. Garvey , Fairfield University

    2.   "Film, Scandal, and the Flapper:  Wharton's Response to Fitzgerald in TWILIGHT SLEEP," Sharon Kehl Califano, University of New Hampshire

    3.   "Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the Literary Field After 1922," Michael Nowlin , University of Victoria

    Edith Wharton Society Business Meeting
    Saturday, May 29, 2005 12:30-1:50 p.m.
    Pacific Concourse A

    Session 22-E   Anxiety and Social Dislocation in Edith Wharton's Short Fiction
    Saturday, May 29, 2004 5:00-6:20 p.m.
    Pacific Concourse L

    Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

    Chair: Donna Campbell, Gonzaga University

    1. "Confronting the Jewish Other: Aesthetics and Economics in Wharton's Early Short Fiction," David M. Ball , Princeton University

    2. "Anxious Narratives: Money, Class, and Gender in Edith Wharton's Ghost Stories," Karen J. Jacobsen , Valdosta State University

    3. "Art that Speaks: Wharton's 'The Duchess at Prayer' and 'The Moving Finger,'" Carol Sapora , Villa Julie College

    4. "'Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live': Edith Wharton's Gothic Fiction and The New Woman," Cynthia L. Hall, University of California,Riverside

    ALA 2003

    Edith Wharton in London 2003

    MLA 2003

    EDITH WHARTON EVENTS at the 2003 MLA Convention

    Please note the following (Updated 12/12/03)

    The Edith Wharton Society Dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 28th, at the Fish Market Restaurant (750 North Harbor Drive, not far from the Convention Center). Clare Colquitt is organizing the dinner (thank you, Clare!), so please email her at by Dec. 23rd if you would like to attend. (The total price for the dinner has not yet been determined, but will be in the $40 range for what promises to be an excellent meal. Dinner need not be paid in advance; please bring cash or a checkbook to the dinner, however.) Details will also be posted on the Wharton Society website. This is always a festive occasion; if you are attending MLA, please come!

    Other details to keep in mind:

    A rare opportunity: “High Tea with Edith Wharton” is a tea and performance being held on Monday, Dec. 29, at 5 p.m. at the Horton Grand Hotel (311 Island Ave.). A new opera based on the life and works of Edith Wharton has been created by Myron Fink (composer) and Don Moreland (librettist); the event will include a discussion of the opera as well as excerpts sung by soprano Patricia McAfee (in the role of Edith Wharton) and tenor Richard Geller (in the role of Morton Fullerton). Send checks for $33 to Myron Fink, c/o 9969 Cummins Place, San Diego, CA 92131, as soon as possible; you may also email (Cheryl Brown, our contact) to see if space is still available. Please include your name, address, telephone number, and email address. For full details see the “Announcements” page on the Edith Wharton Society website. A limited number of tickets will also be available at the door.

    Our two Wharton Society Panels:

    Saturday, Dec. 27, 5:15-6:30: Wharton, History, and the Novel. This will be held in the America’s Cup A & B, Manchester Grand Hyatt. Panelists include Martha Banta, Candace Waid, and Betsy Klimasmith; the panel will be chaired by Julie Olin-Ammentorp.

    Sunday, Dec. 28, 1:45-3:00: The Business of Being Edith Wharton, The Edith Wharton Business. Panelists include Susan Goodman, Gavin Jones, and Dale Bauer (respondent); the panel will be chaired by Augusta Rohrbach. This will be held in Gregory A, Manchester Grand Hyatt. Please note that this meeting will include the Annual Business Meeting of the Wharton Society, including voting on proposed changes to the Wharton Society Constitution (please see the website), electing new members to the Executive Board, selecting panels for next year’s MLA convention, and other important matters.

    MLA 2002
    Edith Wharton Sessions at MLA (December 2002)
    Session 401. Sunday, 29 December 8:30-9:45 a.m., Harlem, Hilton

    Edith Wharton and the Provocations of Philosophy
    Chair: Frederick Wegener, California State Univ., Long Beach

    1. "Edith Wharton's Republic without Spirit: The Platonic Influence on THE
    HOUSE OF MIRTH," Julia A. Galbus, Univ. of Southern Indiana
    2. "Edith Wharton and Ernest Renan," Carol J. Singley, Rutgers Univ.,
    3. "Nietzsche, German Culture, and Wharton," Carole M. Shaffer-Koros, Kean
    4. Habit and the Pragmatics of Thinking in Edith Wharton," Renee Tursi,
    Coll. of Charleston

    Session 774. Ambivalence of Place: The New Yorks of Edith Wharton
    Monday, 30 December, 1:45-3:00 p.m., Concourse A, Hilton
    Chair: Augusta Rohrbach, Harvard Univ.

    1. "The New York of Edith Wharton's Later Novels," Karin S. Roffman, Yale
    2. "Dis-integrating Third Space in Edith Wharton's New York Novels,"
    Stephen P. Knadler, Spelman Coll.
    3. "Symbol, Specificity, and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE," Jane Weiss, State
    Univ. of New York, Coll. at Old Westbury

    The business meeting for the Edith Wharton Society will be held at the
    beginning of Session 774.

    CNYPLL 27-29 OCTOBER 2002 (Deadline: July 15, 2002)

    Edith Wharton Sessions at ALA 2002
    Long Beach, California

    Session XI: Friday, May 31, 10:00-11:20 a.m.
    Chair: Hildegard Hoeller, College of Staten Island-CUNY and the Edith Wharton Society

    1.     "Ethan Frome and Literary Modernism: Wharton's Descent into The Heart of Darkness," Linda Cahir, Centenary College
    2.     "The Architecture of the Short Story: Edith Wharton's Modernist Practice," Michelle Ware, North Carolina Central University
    3.     "From Image to Text: Modernist Transformations in Edith Wharton's 'The Muse's Tragedy,'" Laura Saltz, Colby College

    Session XV: Friday, May 31, 3:30-4:50 p.m.
    ALA 2003

     Chair: Laura Saltz, Colby College and the Edith Wharton Society

    1. "An Intense and Unfailing Visibility: Edith Wharton's Sense of the Visual," Dale Bachman Flynn, University of California, Davis

          2. "Speculating on the Spectacle: Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country,"  Stuart Burrows, Brown University

    3. "Visual Collisions: Edith Wharton and Magazine Illustration," Edie Thornton, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

    Northeast Modern Language Association
    Annual Convention 
    2002 Convention: Toronto, Canada 
    April 11-14, 2002 

    Friday, April 12. Session 1.3: Women and the Healing Arts: Portraits in British and American Literature 
      Bay Suite 
    Chair: Carol Shiner Wilson, Muhlenberg College 
    "Negotiating the Limits of Science and Faith: Jane Barker and the Healing Arts" 
          Carol Shiner Wilson, Muhlenberg College 
    "Edith Wharton's Nurses" 
         Annette Larson Benert, DeSales University 
    "Healing as Art and Strategy: Zora Neale Hurston's Discourse on the Nature of Survival" 
         Patrick S. Bernard, Franklin Marshall College 
    "The `Gifted Hands' of Gloria Naylor's Mama Day" 
         Elizabeth Hayes, Le Moyne College 

    Session 4.10: Female Friendship in Nineteeth-Century America 
      Regatta Suite 
    Chair: Gail C. Keating, Penn State University - Worthington Scranton
    "`She Is Free and I Am Not': Lily Bart, the New Woman, and the Failure of Female Friendship" 
         Lori Harrison-Kahan, Columbia University 
    "Sarah Orne Jewett's Friendship with Artists" 
         Gayle L. Smith, Penn State University - Worthington Scranton 
    "Respect for the Spirit: Women's Friendship and Sprituality in Jewett's `The Queen's Twin'" 
         Sharon Barnes, University of Toledo 

    MLA 2001

    Session 553: "War Writing by Wharton and Other Writers." 
    Saturday, 29 December, 1:45-3:00 p.m. 
    Salon 828, Sheraton
    Chair: Harriet Gold, Univ. de Montreal

    1. "In Their Time: Edith Wharton and Ernest Hemingway."
    Susan Goodman, Univ. of Delaware, Newark
    2. "Home Front, War Front, History: Four Texts of the First World War."
    Janet Sharistanian, Univ. of Kansas
    3. "What's Place Got to Do with It? Wharton and Faulkner on War."
    Deborah L. Clarke, Penn State Univ., University Park
    4. "Edith Wharton and Rebecca West: Women Write the War."
    Julie A. Olin-Ammentorp, Le Moyne College

    Session 105: Edith Wharton Goes Goth
    Thursday, 27 December, 8:45-10:00 p.m.
    Grand Couteau, Sheraton
    Chair: Augusta Rohrbach, Harvard University

    1. "The Beauty of Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales: 'The Eyes' and Afterward"
    Caroline Levander, Rice University

    2. "Edith Wharton and Gothic Landscapes"
    Janet Beer  (Manchester  Metropolitan University)  and Avril Horner (University of Salford)

    3. "Dis-figurement and Dis-covery: The Tableau of Lily Bart"
    Thomas Loebel, University of Calgary

    Respondent: Teresa Goddu, Vanderbilt University
    Business Meeting:
    Saturday, 29 December,
    12:00-1:15 p.m., 
    Pontchartrain Ballroom E, Sheraton.
    EDITH WHARTON SOCIETY DINNER AT MLA--Reservation form (Deadline for reservations: Dec. 22)

    ALA 2001

    Session VI: Thursday, May 24, 2001, 2:00-3:20 p.m.

    Chair: Hildegard Hoeller, Babson College and the Edith Wharton Society

       1."'Inhospitable Splendor': Spectacles of Consumer Culture in Wharton's Summer," Gary Totten, Concordia College 
       2."Edith Wharton's Lost Innocence and the Growth of a Nation," Michael Nowlin, University of Victoria 
       3."Performing Subjectivity and Acquiring a Nationality: The Female Passer in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth," Lori Harrison, Columbia University

    Respondent: Hildegard Hoeller, Babson College and the Edith Wharton Society

    Session XI: Friday, May 25, 2001, 9:30-10:50 a.m.

    F. EDITH WHARTON IN CONTEXT, John Quincy Adams Ballroom
    Chair: Augusta Rohrbach, Harvard University and the Edith Wharton Society

       1."Edith Wharton and the Future of Fiction," Alice Kinman, University of Georgia 
       2."Suicide and the Agency of Fiction in Edith Wharton," Jared Stark, New York University 
       3."The Hotel Spirit: Modernity and the Urban Home in Wharton's The Custom of the Country, James's American Scene, and Gilman's Short Fiction," Betsy Klimasmith, University of Washington

    Respondent: Augusta Rohrbach, Harvard University and the Edith Wharton Society

    Other sessions featuring papers on Wharton:
    Session II: Thursday, May 24, 2001, 9:30-10:50 a. m.
    D. CITIZEN JAMES, William Dawes A
    3."The Meaning of France in the Fiction of Henry James and Edith Wharton," Georgia Kreiger, West Virginia University
    Session V: Thursday, May 24, 2001, 12:30-1:50 p.m.
       3."Howells and Wharton: Indian Summer and The Children," Elsa Nettels, College of William and Mary
    Session XVI: Friday, May 25, 2001, 3:30-4:50 p.m.
    "Edith Wharton's In Morocco: A Nonchalant Gaze at the Harem and an Apology for Colonialism," Ali Bouanani, Tidewater Community College

    For full program go to

    1."Edith Wharton¹s Short Fiction: The Question of Incest Again²
                Abby Werlock, (Emerita) St. Olaf College
    2."Buried Bohemians: Allusions to Two Literary Ancestors in Wharton¹s
    The Age of Innocence and `Mr. Jones'"
                Patricia Rudden, New York City Technical College, CUNY
    3."Lily Bart, Gwendolyn Harleth and Male Friends"
                Julie Olin-Ammentorp, LeMoyne College

    MLA 2000

    Thursday, 28 December.
    326.  Edith Wharton as Transnational 
    3:30-4:45 p. m., Park Tower Suite 8212, Marriott
    Presiding: Abby H. P. Werlock, Saint Olaf College

    1. "To Develop the Conscious': Edith Wharton's Uniquely Configured Internationality." 
    Linda E. Chown, Grand Valley State University

    2. "Wharton's Age of Innocence and Proust's Remebrance of Things Past."
    Allan Hepburn, University of Toronto

    3. "Wharton's In Morocco: Feminism and Orientalism."
    Anouar Majid, University of New England

    Saturday, 30 December
    772. Edith Wharton and Mass Culture 
    12:00 noon-1:15 p. m., Wilson B, Marriott
    Presiding: Edie Thornton, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

    1. "Wharton and Commodification in Film and Literary Production."
    Jamie R. Barlowe, University of Toledo

    2. "The Old Maid, Popular Magazines, and the Adoption Debate." 
    Carol J. Singley, Rutgers University, Camden

    3. "MisreadingThe House of Mirth: Middle-Class Readers and Upwardly Mobile Desire."
    Amy L. Blair, Cornell University

    Edith Wharton at Newport: 2000

    ALA 2000

    Sessions III Thursday, May 25, 2000
    Edith Wharton and Education
    Regency F

    Chair: Frederick Wegener, California State University, Long Beach, and the Edith Wharton Society
    1. "Education as Contamination in The Reef"
    Lisa Radinovsky, Duke University
    2. "The Flapper's Education: What Nona Knows in Twilight Sleep"
    Phillip Barrish, University of Texas at Austin
    3. "Edith Wharton and the Higher Miseducation of Women"
    Julie Olin-Ammentorp, LeMoyne College

    Sessions VIII Thursday, May 25, 2000
    Eating and Orality in the Life and Work of Edith Wharton
    Regency F

    Chair: Elizabeth  Keyser, Hollins University and the Edith Wharton Society
    1. "Consuming Morality in The House of Mirth"
    Tiffany Aldrich, University of California, Davis
    2. "Productive Inappetence: Edith Wharton's Anorexia and Civil(ity) Disobedience"
    Gina M. Camodeca, D'Youville College (paper not presented)
    3. "The Consequences of Communion: Food and Drink in Summer"
    Jules Sears, University of California, Davis
    4. "In with the In-Crowd: Rituals of Dinner in The Age of Innocence"
    Diane McGee, John Abbott College, Quebec
    5. "Flesh Made Power: Mrs. Manson Mingott's 'Monstrous' Influence"
    Abby Zink, Northern Illinois University
    6. "Sexual Politics in Edith Wharton's Smoking Scenes"
    Maureen Newlin, California State University, San Bernardino
    Sessions XX, Saturday, May 27, 2000
    Seminar V: Edith Wharton, the Short Fiction

    Abby Werlock, St. Olaf College
    Seaview A

    NEMLA 2000

    1. Melanie Dawson, University of Pittsburgh: "'Too Young for the Part'?
    Wharton's Exploration of the Modern Generational Divide."
    2. Laura S. Gravette, University of Missouri, Columbia: "Narrative Unity in _Old New York_."
    3. Mia Manzulli, US Military Academy: "Literary Anxieties: The
    Publishing World of _Hudson River Bracketed_."
    4. Joseph C. Swatski, Independent Scholar: "Capitalistic Ghosts in the
    Stories of Edith Wharton."