Friday, March 30, 2007

Howells Society News

From Sanford Marovitz, Editor of _The Howellsian_:

Howells Society Dinner at the Tavern Club
4 Boylston Place, Boston
Friday, May 25, 2007 at 7 p.m.

Many of you at the ALA conference six years ago may recall the superb dinner
our Society enjoyed at the Tavern Club; the evening was enhanced by splendid
dining and camaraderie in the inspiring atmosphere of Old Boston during the
late 19th century. Now we are planning to do it again! The W. D. Howells
Society will sponsor a dinner during this year's American Literature
Association Conference in Boston at the historic Tavern Club, of which W. D.
Howells was the first president.


Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres before dinner
Beef Tenderloin with vegetable and starch
Coffee or Tea
Wine with dinner

Sufficient non-meat dishes will be available for vegetarians.

The all-inclusive price, with tip, for members and their guests is $70 each;
for non-members the price is $80, but for those who wish to join the Society
and send $10 dues to the treasurer before or with their dinner reservations,
the dinner price for themselves and their guests will be reduced by $10 per

Reservations should be made by May 5 so that a final count can be submitted
to the Tavern Club. If you would like to attend, please mail your check in
U. S. funds (payable to the "W. D. Howells Society") to

Dr. Elsa Nettels
211 Indian Spring Rd.
Williamsburg, VA 23185.

Please indicate how your check should be divided ($80 for nonmember or $70
for a member/$10 for WDHS membership).

Please note that this will be a very special evening in the magnificent
historic Tavern Club, an event to anticipate with joy-and you'll be in great

Howells Society Excursion

As on the day following our Tavern Club dinner in 2001, the Society has
scheduled again a bus excursion to the Howells family home at Kittery Point.
It will begin when we board the bus at our hotel on Saturday morning at 9
and end in mid-afternoon the same day; the bus will leave Kittery Point at 2
and arrive back at the hotel in time for participants to have the late
afternoon in Boston. Box lunches will be provided. Although the Society
has done this before, we may not have a chance to do it again, so if you'd
like to visit the Howells Memorial Home, on a truly gorgeous site, this
spring is the time to do it.

A short program there will include an informal discussion by Susan Goodman
and Carl Dawson on writing their distinguished biography, William Dean
Howells: A Writer's Life (2005), with remarks by Sarah Daugherty and others;
comments and questions from the floor will be welcome. Through the
generosity of the William Dean Howells Memorial Committee, to whom the
Society is grateful indeed, the full cost of the excursion for all
participants will be covered. If you wish to participate in this special
"happening" at the Howells Memorial, please notify Susan Goodman by e-mail:
<sgoodman at Because we expect a large turnout and bus seats
are limited, it would be advisable to let her know as soon as possible.
Membership in the Society is not required.

Two William Dean Howells Society Sessions at the 2007 ALA Conference

Howells and Marriage I

Chair: Elsa Nettels, College of William and Mary
1. "A Grammar of Marriage: Love in Spite of Syntax in Silas Lapham,"
William Rodney Herring, University of Texas
2. "The Art of Marriage: Taking the Woman Artist as Wife in A Hazard of New
Fortunes," Sherry Li, National Taiwan University
3. "Marriage and the American Medical Woman in Dr. Breen's Practice,"
Frederick Wegener, California State University, Long Beach Howells and
Marriage II

Chair: Susan Goodman, University of Delaware

1. "Movement, Modernity, and the Marriage of Elinor Mead and William Dean
Howells," Elif Armbruster, Suffolk University

2. "Love in Leisure Spaces: Tourism, Courtship, and Marriage in _The Coast
of Bohemia_ and _An Open-Eyed Conspiracy_," Donna Campbell, Washington
State University

3. "If You Liked That, You'll Like This: Howells and Theodor Fontane on
Marriage," Richard Ellington, Independent Scholar

4. "A 'Record of Young Married Love': Marriage in William Dean Howells'
Criticism and Reviews," Rachel Ihara, City University of New York

Monday, March 12, 2007

Howells and Realism

From a review of Alan Trachtenberg's Lincoln's Smile, and Other Enigmas

With or without the aid of photography, writers also re-viewed American cities. Led by William Dean Howells and Jacob Riis, the "realists" tried to make urban spaces transparent and comprehensible and arouse moral indignation against poverty and exploitation. But, Trachtenberg argues, their work was, at bottom, voyeuristic; their readers "did not cross into the inner world of the slums." In an essay, "New York Streets," Howells recognized that while a picture of sidewalks swarming with children was "pleasingly effective," to live in that picture "was to inhale the stenches of the neglected street and to catch that yet fouler and dreadfuler poverty-smell which breed from the open doorways" - a reality that "makes you hasten your pace down to the river." At the turn of the 20th century, with Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie, Trachtenberg suggests, the city was "naturalized": Data were converted into lived experience, and characters accepted, with neither compassion nor social guilt, as they committed "self-sufficient acts of desire."