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
Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies
Vol. 20 – No. 2
Click image to visit the Leviathan website
Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, volume 20, issue 2, is now available through Project Muse at http://muse.jhu.edu/issue/38709, and dues-paying members of The Melville Society can expect copies in the mail in the next month. The issue contains a cluster of essays on digital approaches to Melville’s marginalia in Shakespeare, Milton, and Home, guest-edited by Steven Olsen-Smith and Christopher Ohge of Melville’s Marginalia Online and including contributions from Peter Norberg and Tony McGowan as well as the guest editors. Notably, these pieces also have multiple student co-contributors. The issue also includes pieces from Warren Broderick on Melville and a “young Scotch Artist” and John Gretchko on Melville’s will and three reviews: Joel Pfister on Robert S. Levine and Cindy Weinstein’s Norton Critical Edition of Pierre; Jennifer Greiman on Branka Arsić and K. L. Evans’s collection Melville’s Philosophies; and Christopher Phillips on Brian Yothers’s Sacred Uncertainty. “All Astir,” a Bezanson Archive Fellowship Report from Meaghan Fritz, and MLA 2018 abstracts round out the issue. For information on subscribing to Leviathan, see https://www.press.jhu.edu/cgi-bin/order.cgi?oc_id=2102
Membership in the Melville Society includes a Leviathan subscription.
Click here for information about Society membership.
2019 Modern Language Association Conference
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 - 12th International Conference - Melville's Bicentennial
New York University
New York, NY
June 17-20, 2019
(download link to CFP located below)
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.
In addition to submissions for traditional panels and individual papers, proposals for roundtables, workshops, and sessions using new presentation formats are particularly welcome. We also seek proposals from independent scholars, creative artists, and academic scholars of diverse institutional affiliation, academic rank, and disciplinary background.
Call for Essays – Special Bicentennial Issues of Leviathan
"Melville at 200"
Deadline September 1, 2018
“Mer Pacifique.” 1776. Historic Maps Collection, Department of Rare Books and
Special Collections. Courtesy of Princeton University Library.
"And some certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are little worth, and the round world itself but an empty cipher."
Chapter 99 of Moby-Dick, “The Doubloon”
The year 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth. For special issues of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies to be published in the bicentennial year, the journal’s editors invite submissions on any aspect of Melville’s work, life, times, and reception. We welcome submissions, critical or creative, that advance our understanding of the “certain significance” of Melville at the present moment, 200 years after his birth and 100 years after the biographical and critical “Melville Revival.”
Contributions might approach Melville from any number of methodological and theoretical perspectives and foreground any number of issues, including politics, religion, the arts, aesthetics, biography, textuality, digital humanities, US and world literatures, and global reception. How does Melville continue to speak, as C. L. R. James phrased it, to the “world we live in”?
Click the link below to download a PDF of the Call for Essays.
NEH Summer Institute for Teachers
The New Bedford Whaling Museum
Application Deadline is March 1, 2018
Amount of stipend varies according to weeks of participation:
one week ($1,200), two weeks ($2,100), three weeks ($2,700), or four weeks ($3,300).
Click the image below for application instructions.
Tim Marr has announced that the Melville Society Cultural Project's collaboration with the New Bedford Whaling Museum has been awarded funding for a NEH Summer Institute for School Teachers that will take place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts from June 17-30, 2018.
You can use the links at the end of this article to download for distribution the flyer and full press release. Here are some excerpts from the press release:
The New Bedford Whaling Museum, in association with Melville Society Cultural Project, has been awarded a $136,342 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The grant will fund a two-week Summer Institute for Teachers in 2018, which will illuminate the art and context of Herman Melville’s famous 19th century American novel Moby-Dick, and help teachers from across the country interpret the book for 21st century students.
Six nationally recognized scholars make up the Melville Society Cultural Project, aimed at sharing an understanding of Herman Melville’s writings, life, and times. They will serve as principal faculty of the Institute: Jennifer Baker, New York University; Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, University of Connecticut; Wyn Kelley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Chris Sten, George Washington University; Robert K. Wallace, Northern Kentucky University; and Timothy Marr, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, serving as the Institute Director.
“The Melville Society Cultural Project is delighted to partner with the Whaling Museum to bring teachers from around the country to New Bedford, the historical center of American whaling,” said Tim Marr, Director of the Summer Institute for Teachers. “From there we will journey forth together on Melville’s Pequod in quest of Moby-Dick, a text that swims on and is crucially relevant for understanding our human dilemmas in the 21st century.”
The Institute will be hosted at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. New Bedford, Massachusetts is a meaningful location for intensive study of Herman Melville’s masterpiece in the context of the whaling industry. Melville arrived in New Bedford on Christmas day 1840 and shipped nine days later on the Acushnet from Fairhaven across the harbor. Since 2000, the Whaling Museum has partnered with the Melville Society Cultural Project to offer scholarly programming, and the Museum is home to the Melville Society Archive, which constitutes one of the best collections of Melville scholarship anywhere in the world.
Click below for printable flyer.
Click below for press release.
A Call for Book Proposals
From Richard King of the University Press of New England
The University Press of New England and the Williams College-Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program seek book proposals for our “Seafaring America” series.
We are looking for works in three categories:
1. Suggestions for timely reissues of forgotten, out-of-print American works of literary and cultural distinction, with new introductions that frame the work for a modern audience.
2. Proposals for anthologies and/or selected editions of writers’ work.
3. Proposals for books of original scholarship or of general interest, according to the series mission below.
We have particular interest in underrepresented voices and “blue” environmental studies.
“Seafaring America” is a series of original and classic works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama exploring the history of America’s engagement with our oceans and coastlines. Spanning diverse eras, populations, and geographical settings, the series strives to introduce, revive, and aggregate a wide range of exemplary and/or seminal stories about our American maritime heritage. This includes the accounts of First Peoples, explorers, voluntary and forced immigrants, women in maritime communities, fishermen, whalers, captains, common sailors, members of the navy and coast guard, marine biologists and oceanographers, and the crews of vessels ranging from lifeboats, riverboats, and tugboats to recreational yachts. “Seafaring America” introduces new stories of maritime interest and reprints books that have fallen out of circulation and deserve reappraisal. The series also publishes selections from well-known works that warrant reconsideration because of the lessons they offer about our relationship with our watery planet.
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.