MLA 2018 発表概要


Thursday, 4 January
1:45-3:00 NHS Panel: Hawthorne and Things (Gramercy, Sheraton)

Nathaniel Hawthorne Society – “Hawthorne and Things” MLA 2018 panel
description and abstracts

Things abound in Hawthorne. We hope this panel can provoke a lively
discussion of what happens to our understanding of them when we move
beyond conventional interpretations of symbolic meaning to focus
instead on things themselves as potential makers of meaning. What
happens if we take animate things in Hawthorne as literal agents or as
participants in “the social life of things” (Appadurai)? Is it
possible or productive to read an allegorist like Hawthorne against
the grain in this way? What new lines of inquiry might open up when we
do so? How might “thing theory” illuminate Hawthorne’s theorization of
romance (dependent always on the centrality of things)? Conversely,
what might Hawthorne’s conception of the “neutral territory” of
romance, somewhere between the “actual” and the “ideal,” bring to
“thing theory” or “speculative realism”? Most broadly, what might be
revealed just by thinking about the category of “Hawthorne and


1. Fabrications,” Lori Merish, Georgetown University

Despite the importance of Bill Brown’s pathbreaking theoretical and
critical writings in defining “object studies” and “thing theory” as
vital areas of contemporary inquiry, object centered approaches to 19
th C literature have been much more pronounced and influential in
British literary studies than on the American side. This paper, like
the Hawthorne Society’s proposed panel, aims to correct for this,
drawing upon the abundant, fertile work on “it-narratives” and thing
studies to expand our understanding of the role of objects in
Hawthorne’s fiction. Material objects feature prominently in his work;
a quick run-down of the titles of his major romances indicates as
much. But those objects (for example, Hester’s scarlet letter) have
generally been read in allegorical and symbolic terms.

Thing theory allows us to shift the terms of this analysis, to examine
how literary inventories such as Hawthorne’s unsettle the
subject-object divide by illuminating what one critic calls “the
animation of the apparently inanimate.” Hawthornean “things” are often
gothicized; for example The House of the Seven Gables’ mirror and
portrait (not to mention its photographs) illuminate how, in Brown’s
words, “death ha[s] the capacity to turn people into things and to
bring inanimate things to objects to life.” This paper explores the
uncanny life and agency of objects, focusing on depictions of garments
in Hawthorne’s work. The portability of clothes and especially the
intimacy and physicality of our relationship to garments clothing as
“second skin” that, in Stallybrass’s words, “receive[s] the human
imprint”– intensify their role as vessels of memory; literally and
figuratively marked by the past, our clothes bear our ghosts. (In the
nineteenth century, wrinkles in used garments were called “memories.”)
Indeed, along with other personal effects, garments played a central
role in what Deborah Luft calls Victorian “relic culture”: relic
cherishing, Luft observes, intensified as a cultural practice
precisely at the moment when the most important technology for
remembering the dead photography−came into widespread use. (Indeed,
Hawthorne’s House foregrounds precisely how photographs did not
displace the “thingness” of the body in death.) In addition, in the
antebellum era, when handsewing was a widespread feminine skill and
practice, sewn garments materialized kinship as well as feminine
presence and creative agency. My discussion of the spectral power of
clothes in Hawthorne focuses on The Blithedale Romance: I will read
Hawthorne’s depiction of Priscilla as seamstress, and maker of
(sexualized) purses, in relation to her portrayal as the Veiled
Lady−with the Veil as a luminous example of spiritualized, animated

Contemporary American “it-narratives” similarly feature the uncanny
life of fabricated objects: I will briefly discuss labor reformer
Charles Burdett’s “life history” of a straw hat, Chances and Changes;
or Life as it is. Illustrated in the History of a Straw Hat (1845), in
which the hat, ensconsed in a comfortable residence in New York,
recollects the sufferings of hat trimmers and the death by suicide of
the milliner who made him. In animating his hat-narrator, Burdett
clearly draws upon the rhetorical strategies of the abolitionist “free
produce movement”; free producers overlaid, through metonymy,
seemingly neutral slave-made products with graphic images of
suffering, thus enabling consumers to “defetishize” commodities
through visualization. (Indeed, in Zenobia’s telling of the Veiled
Lady story in Blithedale, the veil’s touch transform’s the girl into a
“bond slave.”) Taken together, Hawthorne’s and Burdett’s texts reveal
diverse ways, political and otherwise, that textiles were ascribed
agency and “animacy” in antebellum culture.

2. “’A’ is for Archive: (Un)Dead Things in Hawthorne’s Custom House,”
Lindsay DiCuirci, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

This paper contextualizes Nathaniel Hawthorne’s essay, “The
Custom-House,” within two contexts: the nineteenth-century rise of
antiquarianism and the material and temporal turns in recent literary
scholarship. Hawthorne’s iconic introductory essay to The Scarlet
Letter is centered on how objects are hoarded, neglected, lost,
recovered, and recirculated−that is, centered on spaces and labors of
antiquarianism at the time of its composition. I offer a reading of
the space and its miscellaneous contents−old books, papers, wigs,
dust, fabric−that points to the animating potential of the inanimate,
or, as Hawthorne puts it, the ways that things “authorized and
authenticated” the act of writing.

Instead of reading the narrator’s location of the “A” as a
serendipitous archival discovery, one that frames so many historical
novels in this period, I am interested in the agency of the objects in
the archive itself and the ways they act upon the reader and narrator.
Drawing on the work of nineteenth-century antiquarians like
Christopher Columbus Baldwin of the American Antiquarian Society, I
read “The Custom-House” in the tradition of what we might call
“archive narratives,” stories of encounter between modern subjects and
ancient materials, between the living and the dead or undead, as
relics and old books were imagined to be.

Further, I suggest that the haphazard nature of the Custom House as a
space and a trove of things disrupts attempts at narrative order and
hinders neat linearity. The narrator’s encounter with the Custom
House’s “musty papers” becomes a “queer vehicle” (as Hawthorne writes)
for temporal disruption. Fraught encounters between antiquities and
contemporary actors can challenge the “naturalness or neutrality of
the sequential movement of time,” as Jordan Stein describes it,
facilitating the queering of temporality. I am interested, then, in
how the material archive of the Custom House destabilizes
chronological history and disrupts linear time through the
writer/collector’s affective encounters with its myriad things.

3. “Hawthorne’s Houses as Material Culture,” Erin Sweeney, UC Irvine

Houses, as large-scale objects that are composed of and contain other
objects, are designed to frame and direct human interaction. This
paper uses material culture studies−the examination of details of a
building’s design, fabrication, and use to understand underlying
cultural beliefs at particular historical moments−to examine three
houses in Hawthorne and Things 2018 MLA cfp & abstracts
Hawthorne’s writing; each house serves as a case study to explore the
benefits and limitations of using material culture methods to read
linguistically-constructed buildings.

Many of Hawthorne’s stories center on tensions that arise when
inhabitants’ dwelling habits and tastes shift over generations while
the Colonial-era structures in which they live do not. Dwelling
preferences changed dramatically with the early-nineteenth- century
rise of separate spheres ideology; the market revolution saw
antebellum families fleeing to the suburbs in search of single-family
homes while the aging urban family mansions they left behind were
demolished or converted into boardinghouses to house workers in
increasingly crowded urban centers. While my recent J19 article,
“Boardinghouse Fiction and the Boarding House of the Seven Gables,”
examines the material culture context of Hawthorne’s second novel,
this paper examines the layout, architectural history, and different
modernizing responses to three pre-Revolutionary dwellings in
Hawthorne’s notebooks and short stories that tell diachronic stories
of changing patterns of use and habits of dwelling. Hawthorne’s
American Notebooks record his and Sophia’s “additions and alterations”
(324) to Emerson’s Old Manse to make the pre-Revolutionary structure
better suit contemporary dwelling fashions, and reveal histories of
use obscured by the historic building’s current staging. The
exploratory demolition of the fictional many-gabled urban mansion in
“Peter Goldthwaite’s Treasure” illustrates intergenerational
continuities in dwelling habits at odds with the teleology implied by
the house’s future replacement with mixed use buildings now commonly
associated with mythic American Main Streets.

Finally, the conversion of Boston’s Province House from a lavish
Governor’s mansion into a boardinghouse in Legends of the Province
House draws calculated similarities between the spatial practices of
American revolutionaries, Colonial administrators, and contemporary
boarders and tavern patrons, and reconstructs an historic building
that was demolished in 1922. Yet, Hawthorne’s dwellings also
illustrate some limits to the importation of material culture
methodologies into literary studies; even Hawthorne’s comprehensive
descriptions lack the detail needed to take advantage of the forensic
techniques at the heart of much cutting edge material culture
scholarship. By tracing diachronic stories of dwelling emerging from
built space in Hawthorne’s writings, I aim to show how literary
studies and material culture studies might be mutually elucidating.
Familiarity with architectural history can establish when authors
evoke, extend, and alter common architectural forms for particular
effect. Literary houses shed light on their historical counterparts as
well; because fiction invests places with action over time,
linguistically-constructed dwellings can capture ephemeral
domesticities emerging in built spaces that are not legible in static
media like blueprints, photographs, or the extant houses themselves.
Ultimately, the paper argues that taking architectural detail of
fictional houses seriously can help to identify how authors draw upon
and reorganize the dynamic practices and meanings associated with
particular domestic architectural forms.
posted by NHSJ at 18:31| 日記