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 which all membes receive three times a year and which offers scholarly articles, book and art reviews, Society news, and Melville-related events. Membership is open to all. For information about Leviathan and joining The Melville Society click here.

The Eaton Portrait

Herman Melville JOEaton 95ppi 250wBy permission of Houghton Library, Harvard University: 61Z-4

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Melville Electronic Library

mel-thumb-crpd-3The Melville Electronic Library is an online resource for Melville texts. Housed on a Hofstra University server, MEL is being developed and maintained by a group of Melville scholars and digital specialists.

Johns Hopkins University Press

jhup-logoTo join the Melvillle Society and subscribe to Leviathan, visit Leviathan's Johns Hopkins University Press journal site by clicking here.

Melville Society Cultural Project

Melville Society and New Bedford Whaling Museum Cultural Project The New Bedford Whaling Museum in collaboration with The Melville Society is the established home of the Melville Society Cultural Project and Melville Society Archive. The Melville Society Archive is housed at the New Bedford Whaling Museum's Research Library, where significant works from this collection are also on display. The Melville Society Cultural Project also sponsors a book donation program and presents exciting annual events including the Moby-Dick Marathon and a Birthday Lecture.

Herman Melville's Arrowhead

BHS FB HM portraitHerman Melville's Arrowhead Facebook Group page of the Berkshire Historical Society. Celebrating historical Berkshire County and Herman Melville's Arrowhead, the farm and home where Melville lived while writing Moby-Dick.

MLA Conference 2020
Seattle, WA - January 9-12


Our 2020 MLA Panel

Our panel—Melville, Gesture, Love—is on Friday January 10th at 8:30 AM in the Convention Center's Yakima 1. This panel was organized by Michael Snediker. Speakers will include Theo Davis, James Godley, and Lindsay Reckson. James Lilley will serve as respondent. You can find program details here.

The Melville Society Annual Dinner

We'll also host our annual MLA dinner on Thursday, January 9th at 7:30 PM at RN74, a short walk from the convention center. We'll continue to break Society tradition by abandoning fixed menus, so there's no need to send checks in advance. But we do need you to RSVP here. You can learn more about RN74 here (website | menu).

Melville, Gesture, Love – Panel Overview

“Thus Spake Zarathustra,” writes Agamben, is “the ballet of a humanity that has lost its gestures.” Melville’s corpus, it may be imagined, presents a ballet of gestures in the felt absence (thus spake “Bartleby’s” flummoxed narrator) of humanity. Ahab and Pip, Vere and Billy Budd (for that matter, everyone and Billy), Ishmael and Queequeg, Pierre and Isabel: love circuits through Melville’s characters like an Emersonian force, illuminating what in Melvillean characterology seems least substantive, least persuasive.

It is arguably love’s failure along characterological lines that may draw our attention to its constitutive gestures, the frequency with which it surfaces across Melville’s oeuvre as a specifically textual matter: figuratively jubilant, expressively incessant spume recalling Werner Hamacher’s definition of gesture as “what remains of language after meaning is withdrawn from it,” or Roland Barthes’s understanding of gesture as a “quantum of phantasmatic brilliance, of desire, or of pleasure.” This Melville Society panel is envisioned as an opportunity for reconsidering both the contours and qualities of love’s gestures and our own love, as critics and theorists, of the gesture. After all, the concept of gesture has for some time gestured toward something strange and strangely alive at the heart of Melville’s enterprise—this isn’t unfamiliar terrain, and yet the term’s tenacity and continued salience suggests that Melvillean gesture (or our relation to it) has not yet fully done its office. How might the unfixed relation of these terms speak to the historical haunting of Battle-Pieces, to Clarel’s experiments in fidelity and scale, to the antiquary geology of “The Encantadas”? Or only somewhat more straightforwardly, the sumptuous queerness of Melville’s attachment to Hawthorne, not to mention the sumptuousness of what Newton Arvin describes as Melville’s “love of rare adjectives.”

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Upcoming Conferences and Events


Fellowships and Scholarships

Melville Society Archive
Walter E. Bezanson Fellowship
The Melville Society, under the auspices of the Melville Society Cultural Project in New Bedford, offers an annual fellowship to help a scholar undertake research on Herman Melville at the Society’s Archive in the Research Library of the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts.


Click here for more information and application details.


New York Public Library
Short-term Research Fellowships


Graduate students or other affiliated academics whose work would benefit from visiting the Manuscripts and Archives Division to view collections such as the Gansevoort-Lansing collection, and Duyckinck family papers are encouraged to apply.


Click here for more information and application details.

From Our Photo Collections

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Woodlawn Cemetary

WoodlawnWoodlawn Cemetary - final resting place of Herman, his wife, Elizabeth, and other family members. Click here to view photos of the gravesites.

125th Anniversary Celebration

125th Woodlawn

A celebration of Melville's life at Woodlawn Cemetary on the 125th anniversary of his passing.

Lansingburgh Historical Society

Melville House

Melville lived for nine years in this Lansingburgh house. It was here that he wrote Typee and Omoo

Berkshire Historical Society

ArrowheadMelville's Arrowhead home and farm in Pittsfield, MA where he wrote Moby-Dick and lived for most of the 1850s.