The Melville Society is dedicated to the study and appreciation of the nineteenth-century American author Herman Melville, writer of Typee, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd, such short stories as “Bartleby” and “Benito Cereno,” and several volumes of poetry, including Battle-Pieces and the epic Clarel.
We publish the award-winning journal Leviathan and meet twice a year for fellowship and scholarly discourse at the annual conferences of the Modern Language Association and the American Literature Association. We also sponsor International Conferences and tours every other year.
Membership and Donations
Membership in The Melville Society is open to all. For information about joining The Melville Society click here. If you want to make a special payment or if you are interested in donating to any of the various projects, endowments, and programs sponsored by The Melville Society, click here.
Events and Announcements
2019 Modern Language Association Conference
January 3 to 6, 2019
You’re invited to our annual Melville Society Dinner and a cocktail hour,
which will take place just after our panel. The dinner will be held at the Palm Chicago
which is conveniently located in the Swissôtel that is connected to the Hyatt.
Click here to view details and RSVP.
Friday, January 4, 2019 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
The Palm Chicago
323 E. Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago IL 60601
In addition to Rodrigo Lazo's panel, "Reading The Confidence-Man Today," Kim Evans' panel on "Melville’s Quarrel with Modernity" was accepted. While it's not directly a Society event John Matteson and Edlie Wong's "American Lives: Whitman and Melville" was also accepted. We'll be hosting our first cash bar! It should be a nice bridge between our panels and our dinner… and an opportunity to do something special for the bicentennial. Scheduling information will be posted soon.
Reading The Confidence-Man Today
What types of interpretations come up when someone reads the The Confidence-Man in light of recent events? Presenters should offer short, reflective pieces (8 minutes) that provoke discussion. Although a lack of faith (or confidence) in political institutions is a major part of news reports today, presenters may focus on any of the topics brought up in Melville’s book, including stocks and finance, religious organizations, charity, racial identity, belief, and other considerations. Other approaches could include reflections on reading historically or the dynamics of re-reading today.
Organizer: Rodrigo Lazo
Panelists: Peter Bellis, Russ Castronovo, Meredith Farmer, Justine Murison, Sam Otter
Melville’s Quarrel with Modernity
Melville is not recognized for the clarity of his philosophical arguments. But the argument driving this panel is that Melville’s philosophical arguments have been miscategorized: taken to embody the ethos of the distinctively modern world, when in fact what they offer is nothing less than a wide-ranging rejection of modernity’s dominant assumptions. Panelists turn a harsh light on some of the beliefs that characterize modern Western thought.
Organizer: K.L. Evans
Panelists: Jason de Stefano, Willis McCumber, Pilar Martinez Benedi, Joe Conway, Tim Sweet, K.L. Evans
Respondent: Michael Puett
American Lives: Whitman and Melville
At their bicentennial, we examine the challenges and rewards of writing the lives of Whitman and Melville. Who were they? Who, via scholarship, have they become?
Organizer: John Matteson and Edlie Wong
Panelists: Michael Bateman, Kelvin Beliele, John Bryant, Meredith Farmer
Call for Papers for ALA 2019
May 23-26 2019
Unsettling Feeling: Melville's Emotions
Talk of Melville and "emotion" may call to mind Moby-Dick's affective extremes: Ahab's monomaniacal fury and the egalitarian exuberance of the crew. But in recent years critics have begun to excavate a range of less focused, recognizable, or stable feelings, which permeate Melville's oeuvre. Sianne Ngai analyzes The Confidence Man's circulation of "fake feeling" and its ambiguous, unstable atonality; Jennifer Greiman has described "misgivings" in Battle-Pieces as a productive "mood of suspension"; and Michael Jonik troubles our visions of squeeze-of-the-hand camaraderie by tracing the "sensation of misanthropy." What other unexpected, in-between, unsettled—or unsettling—feelings might we recover in Melville's texts?
Related questions to consider: How do we understand the political effects of Melville's affects? What linkages might we trace between feelings associated with characters within the diegesis and the "tone" or "mood" of the texts themselves? How can we put Melvillean emotion in dialogue with ongoing debates within literary studies about our field's critical dispositions (e.g. suspicion, distance, enchantment) and emotional investments?
Melville and Women, Revisited
2019 marks the 200th year since Melville’s birth and has inspired varied observances of this anniversary. It also marks 25 years since the first Melville Society panel on Melville and women at ALA. This panel returns to gender theory and scholarship, inviting fresh considerations of women as shapers of culture and the arts, voices of protest and reform, and pioneers in fluid conceptions of gender and identity. How do these contexts influence our understanding of women who inhabit Melville’s pages and with whom he lived, worked, corresponded, and met the challenges of 19th-century life and writing? What do we make of unconventional characters like Isabel Banford, Agatha Hatch, Hunilla, or Goneril? What of his queens—Pomaree, Hautia, and “queenly” Ahab? How do 21st-century understandings of race, gender, sexuality, and identity help us frame these presences in Melville’s work?
12th International Conference - Melville's Bicentennial
New York University
New York, NY
June 17-20, 2019
(click here for the official conference website)
The Twelfth International Melville Society Conference will take place at New York University to celebrate the bicentennial of Herman Melville's birth in lower Manhattan in 1819. The conference will commemorate Melville's life, work, and legacies through a series of papers and conversations devoted to the theme of “origins” broadly conceived. We invite proposals for individual papers or panels organized around MELVILLE’S ORIGINS as it relates to historicist, theoretical, textual, biographical, and pedagogical approaches to Melville’s writings and to the history of their reception in criticism, adaptation, the digital world, popular culture, and the fine arts.
We are delighted to announce that our keynote speakers will be Rodrigo Lazo, Professor of English at UC-Irvine, and Wyn Kelley, Senior Lecturer in Literature at MIT. In addition to the regular panels and roundtables at New York University, there will be a number of special events and Melville-related excursions around New York City. We are also planning an optional post-conference daytrip to Mystic, CT, to tour the historic seaport and see the 1841 whale ship, Charles W. Morgan, on Friday, June 21.
For those traveling to New York City, we are working to procure reasonably priced suites in a residence hall on campus. More details will be available at our conference website, www.melville2019.weebly.com, scheduled to go live the last week of September.
Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies
Vol. 20 – No. 3
The October 2018 issue of Leviathan (vol. 20, no. 3) is now available on Project Muse! Dues-paying members of The Melville Society who subscribe to the print edition should receive their copies in the mail soon. The issue features a special section on Israel Potter edited and introduced by Robert S. Levine and including essays by Carol Colatrella, Emilio Irigoyen, Jeffrey Insko, Emilia Le Seven, and Ryan McWilliams. It also includes a note on Seneca in Moby-Dick by James Zainaldin; a note on Melville family properties by Warren Broderick; an essay on Melville’s Prints in the Osborne Collection by Robert K. Wallace; Wyn Kelley’s review of Visionary of the Word, edited by Jonathan A. Cook and Brian Yothers; Donald Pease’s review of Waging War on War, by Giorgio Mariani; Dawn Coleman’s survey of recent publications connected to Melville studies in “Books in Brief”; and Mary K. Bercaw Edwards’s “All Astir” and the abstracts from Melville panels at the most recent American Literature Association Conference in the Extracts section. Click the following link http://muse.jhu.edu/issue/39249 to access the Leviathan Project Muse page. For information about subscribing to Leviathan, click here.
Call for Papers
"Over Seas: Melville, Whitman and All the Intrepid Sailors"
University of Lisbon - Center for English Studies
July, 3 – 5, 2019
Deadline for abstracts: March 11, 2019
Notification of acceptance: March 30, 2019
(Click below to download a PDF of the CFP)
The American Studies Research Group at ULICES (University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies) is organizing an international conference and exhibition, “Over Seas: Melville, Whitman and All the Intrepid Sailors,” to mark the bicentenaries of the births of two of America’s most powerful literary voices: Herman Melville and Walt Whitman.
The conference will take place in Lisbon from 3rd to 5th July, 2019. Deadline for submission of abstracts is March 11, 2019.
. full title of paper, panel or poster;
. full name of author;
. institutional affiliation;
. individual e-mail address(es);
. brief bio (max. 5 lines).
CALL FOR PAPERS
International Melville Conference
Co-hosted by the University of Lille and Paris-Diderot University (France)
October 17-18, 2019
DEADLINE FOR ALL SUBMISSIONS: February, 1st, 2019.
"The measure! the measure!" cried Ahab.
Ahab’s exclamation notwithstanding, Moby-Dick more readily calls to mind the longing for the “unshored, haborless immensities” (ch. 32), “indefinite as God” (ch. 23), than down-to-earth measures taken to apprehend or comprehend “the ungraspable phantom of life” (ch. 1). Significantly enough, “if money’s to be the measurer,” Ahab’s doubloon is an ambivalent gold standard, at once the symbol of rampant capitalism that has transformed the world into a “great counting-house,” the effigy of Ahab’s sovereign self and a figure for Ishmael’s continual forging of symbols of his own coinage. Even as it bears the stamp of Ahab’s empire, the gold coin remains a source of numberless speculations for Ishmael. “The measure” is rife with ambiguities.
Call for Papers
The 12th Biennial Symbiosis Conference
11-14 July 2019, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK
Deadline for proposals: 30 January 2019.
The 12th Biennial Symbiosis Conference will take place at the University of Dundee, Scotland, 11-14 July 2019. As ever, we welcome paper and panel proposals on all areas of Transatlantic literary exchange.
Deadline for proposals: 30 January 2019.
In addition to the general call for papers, there will be three special themes:
Dundee in the spotlight:
Dundee is one of the great powerhouses of comics production, not just in the UK, but internationally. The publisher DC Thomson is at the heart of the city, and many of the top comics creators in Britain began their careers with the company or have been inspired by Dundee’s comics. It is therefore fitting that Dundee hosts annual events that celebrate this legacy, and that the University of Dundee offers courses in Comics Studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The University of Dundee is a world leader in Anatomy and Human Identification and hosts the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science. Harnessing this scientific expertise, Dundee now offers a Masters in Creative Writing: Crime Fiction and Forensic Investigation. Scotland has a flourishing crime writing scene with several crime festivals in stunning historic locations celebrating the ‘tartan noir’ phenomenon.
Located on the east coast, Dundee is Scotland’s sunniest city, and one of the easiest to get to. It has a regional airport, but Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are also conveniently close. 90% of Scotland is within 90 minutes’ drive, with famous castles, lochs and golf courses easy to visit even for a daytrip.
Visit Our Media Pages
Featuring Videos from Our International Conferences and a Poetry Reading by Gordon Poole
Photo Gallery of the June 2017 London Conference on Flickr
Thanks to the photographers and participants in 11th International Conference in London last June
for sharing their memories and photos.
Click in the menu above to view the "Photos" page for a gallery of photos from the London 2017 conference.