Margaret Fuller Society



Fuller Society initiatives and collaborations

    “Transcendentalist Intersections: Literature, Philosophy, Religion”
    University of Heidelberg, Germany, July 26 - 29, 2018

     Sponsored by the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, the Margaret Fuller Society, and the Anglistisches Seminar and Center for American Studies at the University of Heidelberg

     At its first meeting in 1836, the Transcendental Club declared an “organ of spiritual philosophy” to be essential to the project, and, when The Dial came forth in 1840 under Margaret Fuller’s editorship, its subtitle—“Literature, Philosophy, and Religion”—was meant to convey both the breadth and depth of the movement’s aims.  As Emerson introduced it, the ambitious new journal would “share [in such] impulses of the time” as “special reforms to the state,” “modifications of the various callings of men,” “opening a new scope for literature and art,” “philosophical insight,” and “the vast solitudes of prayer.” 

     In the spirit of The Dial, and with its subtitle too, the organizers of “Transcendentalist Intersections” invite paper proposals seeking to do justice to that breadth and depth of the movement, generously construed. For this multi-disciplinary, international conference dedicated to new scholarship on American Transcendentalism, we are particularly interested in proposals engaging literature, philosophy, and religion, and especially encourage not only literary scholars but historians, philosophers, theologians, and others to share their ideas. 

    With regard to literature, we welcome papers examining texts and authors traditionally ignored or cast as “minor”; such forms as journalism, literature of reform or revolt, correspondence, travel writing, history, philosophy as literature; relations between literature and visual or musical arts; biographical approaches; transnational dialogues; reception history, the history of the book and the relevance of literary institutions; and revisionist approaches to or paradigms of Transcendentalism.  We encourage papers that address the convergences and tensions between literature and philosophical issues on the one hand and/or issues of religion, spirituality, or the sacred on the other. 

     With regard to religion, we especially invite papers discussing the entanglements of Transcendentalists (major or minor) with other 19th-century American religious movements such as the Second Great Awakening, the Holiness and Spiritualist revivals, Catholic immigration, and the emergence of groups centered around new “American Scriptures” such as Mormonism. We are interested in the engagement of Transcendentalists with various Christian theological debates and scholarly discourses of the time, such as the higher criticism, the "New Christianity" of the Saint-Simonians, the Christian socialism of the Abbé Lammenais, the pantheism of Pierre Leroux, and the comparative study of religion. We also encourage papers investigating the contribution of Transcendentalists to the construction of religion as a category or of particular religious traditions (e.g. “Hinduism” or “Buddhism”); as well as Transcendentalism’s role in the coming of the modern paradigm of “seeker spirituality.”

  • With regard to philosophy, we encourage proposals in all of the subfields that have been so vigorously engaged by Transcendentalist scholars in recent years.  This would especially include work on the Transcendentalists in relation to social and political philosophy (e.g., feminism, antislavery, liberalism, democracy, socialism, environmentalism, human rights); religious philosophy (e.g., secularism and post-secularism); ethics (e.g., Kantian and post-Kantian, pragmatist ethics, virtue ethics); metaphysics (e.g., "neo-Platonism, Romantic theories of being and selfhood, Nietzcheanism, post-metaphysics"); epistemology (e.g., agnosticism, fallibilism, anti-foundationalism, skepticism); and aesthetics (symbolism, theories of metaphor and poetic expression, art and social reform, translation, and (again) music and the visual arts).
  • Please direct abstracts (300-500 words) and two-page CVs by August 1, 2017 to any of the members of the conference planning subcommittee: Charlene Avallone, Dan Malachuk, or Jan Stievermann  
  •  A conference webpage and announcement of keynote speakers are forthcoming.  This cfp is posted in the meantime at and For more information about our hosts, see and

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    Consider joining a roundtable or proposing a paper:  the Society for the Study of American Women Writers is sponsoring a conference at the Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France from 5-8 July 2017 with the title “Border Crossings:  Translation, Migration, and Gender in the Americas, the Transatlantic, and the Transpacific.”  Our society needs two or possibly three participants to fill out a roundtable session on Fuller, adding to currently committed scholars from Italy, Denmark, and the US. If you are interested, please send an abstract (250-300 words) and a brief biography (up to 60 words) to Charlene Avallone by June 15, 2016.  Or send a paper proposal of your own to the conference planners by August 31.  See the conference website at

  • Collaborations with other societies are ongoing.  We were among the backers of a panel for ALA 2016 with the Research Society for American Periodicals called “Woman Thinking:  Public Intellectualism and US Periodical Culture.”  For ALA 2017 we will be proposing a co-sponsored session with the Hawthorne Society called “Writing? Authoring? Scribbling:  Fuller, Hawthorne, and Their Contemporaries.”  Meanwhile our own panel for MLA 2017, complementing the Hawthorne crossover, is “Margaret Fuller and the Women of Her Time.” 
  • We contributed $300 in September to the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House at 71 Cherry Street, Cambridge, Mass. toward repairs that will allow this community social service center (as well as Fuller birth place) to continue.  With private contributions from some members as well, we added significantly to the $10,000 they needed to receive a matching grant.   A new Executive Director has meanwhile come in at MFNH, and there are promising leads toward greater collaboration with the Fuller Society, surely reflecting the social justice issues that Fuller spoke for.
  • Next year’s ALA will be back in Boston:  our 25th anniversary as a society.  Might social justice be a theme or concern, possibly with a party at (and contribution to) MFNH?
  • Meanwhile, 2016 is the year for a major campaign to increase membership in the society and return to collecting dues of $10 a year.  Please send dues for new and renewed memberships to our new society Treasurer:  Dr. Noelle Baker, 2689 Irving St., Denver CO 80211. 
  • Other developments in Fuller studies and public recognition
  • Long awaited publication:  Nineteenth-Century Prose: Special Issue on Margaret Fuller (Fall 2015), edited by our own past president Brigitte Bailey.  Essays by most of the leaders of contemporary Fuller scholarship are included.   Highly recommended!
  • At last year’s Fuller Society meeting, Yoshiko Ito informed us of her recent (2013) translation of Woman in the Nineteenth Century—the first ever—into Japanese. Thank you, Yoshiko! 
  • Christa Holm Vogelius of the University of Copenhagen won the Best Paper Award at the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference in November 2015 with her paper “Margaret Fuller’s Transatlantic Imagination.”  Congratulations!
  • Harvard’s Houghton Library has purchased the previously lost original manuscript of Thoreau’s report on the shipwreck at Fire Island and death of Fuller.  See the story at, and for a transcription of the whole text,
  • On May 21, 2016, the City of Beacon, NY dedicated a historic marker at the site where Fuller finished writing Woman in the Nineteenth Century.  Society member Michael Barnett was instrumental in this project, part of the state of New York’s preparations for its 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in 2017.  An original song incorporating Margaret’s poetry was commissioned and composed by Debra Kaye for the ceremony.  See
  • At ALA 2016, the Lydia Maria Child Society presented its first two awards recognizing work on American literature that furthers social change: one for literature scholars at the graduate level and beyond and one for high school and undergraduate students.  Projects are welcomed on a variety of authors, genres, periods, and concerns, not just Child.  A natural for future consideration by Fuller Society members and their students?   See
  • The final volume of Julia Budenz’ epic poem of consciousness, The Gardens of Flora Baum:  By the Tree of Knowledge (Chelmsford, Mass.: Carpathia Press, 2011) is a dialogue in letters between a woman’s voice of today and Margaret Fuller. In early May 2017 there will be readings from and celebration of this work at First Parish Unitarian-Universalist of Cambridge, Mass. and the Cambridge Public Library.  Fuller Society members are especially invited, either to listen or to serve as readers.