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 members 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.

CFP for MLA 2022 in Washington DC - Two Panels
"Embrace All Aliens”: Melville and Migration and "Melville and the Cultures of Antiquity"

The following two Calls for Papers are for the two panels that the Melville Socity is sponsoring at the 2022 Modern Language Association Conference in Washington DC: "Embrace All Aliens”: Melville and Migration and "Melville and the Cultures of Antiquity". Scroll down to read the text of both Calls for Papers.

“Embrace All Aliens”: Melville and Migration

This panel takes its title from C.L.R James’s Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: writing in the summer of 1952, while interned on Ellis Island, James famously turned to Melville to put pressure on political-juridical ideologies of U.S. citizenship and appeal (without success) for his own inclusion in the U.S body politic. For James, the Island – like the Pequod – represented in microcosm the entire world and in doing exposed the social relations which produced postwar taxonomies of nationality, citizenship, and humanness. 

While Melville often serves as a locus for thinking about immigration, globalization, imperialism, colonial taxonomies, and neoliberal multiculturalism, James’s insistent meditation on the category of the “alien” both reproduces and unsettles humanist assumptions which structure these discourses. Following James, this panel will interrogate the “alien” and its relation to ideologies of citizenship, statehood, migration, and (post)-humanism. We welcome papers that explore these thematics both in Melville's own thinking as well as within a rich archive of 20th and 21st century literature which has reimagined Melville's oceanic cartographies (from James to Ocean Vuong to Karen Tei Yamashita). We especially welcome approaches that consider Melville’s place in Black feminist critique, including the works of Toni Morrison, Hortense Spillers and Alexis Pauline Gumbs; reverberations of Melville in Indigenous futurism and Afrofuturism; and the disintegration of borders (both national and human) in recent “cli-fi” literature.

Topics may include: Immigration and discourses of work and post-work; gestation, labor, and sexual/social reproduction across borders; industrialization, capitalist futurity, and anthropogenic climate crisis; climate migrations both human and non-human; scientific surveillance and profiling technologies; the afterlives of the Middle Passage; national and supranational asylum and immigration law; discourses of citizenship, deviance, and criminality; and calls, especially from Black and Indigenous critics which foreground vulnerability, collectivity, and a reimagining of political, taxonomic, and personal borders: or what Gumbs has called "nourishing forms of adaptation."

Please send a 250 word abstract and brief bio to Mary Grace Albanese (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by March 23.


Melville and the Cultures of Antiquity

From Bartleby, brooding “among the ruins of Carthage,” to three giant turtles surviving like “Roman Coliseums in magnificent decay,” to Billy Budd, who “showed in face that humane look of reposeful good nature which the Greek sculptor in some instances gave to his heroic strong man, Hercules,” Melville repeatedly turned to Greek and Roman art and history to analogize the people (and other animals) populating his stories and poems. But even before visiting the Levant in 1856, Melville had also demonstrated a fascination with the culture and iconography of ancient Egypt and Palestine, and he regularly drew on a rich bibliography of ancient art, mythology and history to analogize his protagonists, inform his figurations and lend gravitas to his poetry and fiction. Scholars have documented these allusions in great detail, but recent debates in the discipline of Classics might prompt us to revisit Melville’s relationship to ancient culture. Princeton Classicist, Dan-el Padilla Peralta, for example, has suggested that “the production of whiteness turns on closer examination to reside in the very marrow of classics.” For Padilla and others, ancient Greece and Rome have, for too long (and in a disturbingly resurgent way in recent years) fuelled racist fantasies of white European supremacy while concealing -- and providing tacit consent for -- various forms of exclusionary political and cultural practice. “Melville and the Cultures of Antiquity” will consider how we might read Melville’s attachment to and treatment of the culture of antiquity in the light of such re-evaluations. Reflecting on the full range of Melville’s written work, this panel will ask if Melville’s oeuvre betrays a familiar predilection for Greco-Roman (white) exemplars or if his wide-ranging allusions reveal a more idiosyncratic relationship to the ancient past. Did Melville contribute to the nineteenth-century European determination to distinguish a “western” tradition of superior civilization reaching back to the Greeks and forward to a contemporary Anglo-American elite? Or did Melville take different lessons from ancient culture, including, among other things, a keen sense of the latent violence and fragility of western political and ethical ideals? Is there anything in Melville’s use of ancient figures and motifs, in other words, that might rub against the grain of hegemonic nineteenth- or twentieth-century European classicism?

Please send a 250-word abstract and brief bio to Paul Downes (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by March 23.


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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.