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Margaret Fuller and Her Circles

Brigitte Bailey

Publication Year: 2012

These essays mark the maturation of scholarship on Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), one of the most important public intellectuals of the nineteenth century and a writer whose works have been much revived in recent decades. The authors--leading scholars of Fuller, Transcendentalism, and the antebellum period--consider anew Fuller the critic, the journalist, the reformer, the traveler, and the social and cultural observer, and make fresh contributions to the study of her life and work. Drawing on developments in gender theory, transatlantic studies, and archival excavations of the networks of reform, this volume defines Fuller as a significant intellectual precursor, a critic who analyzed and challenged the dominant interpretive paradigms of her own time and who remains strikingly relevant for ours.

Published by: University of New Hampshire Press

Series: New England in the World


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pp. 1-5

Title Page

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pp. 6-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The Massachusetts Historical Society has become something of a center of programming on Transcendentalism over the past quarter century. Beginning in 1987, when the society investigated the liberal religious basis of Transcendentalism through a conference on American Unitarianism, 1805–65, ...

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Introduction | Fuller at Two Hundred

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pp. 1-10

Margaret Fuller (1810 – 50) has had three afterlives.1 As a woman and a public intellectual whose contributions did not always fit within the dominant interpretations either of the Transcendentalist movement or of other nineteenth-century literary and cultural movements, Fuller became marginalized in academic studies ...

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1 | Fuller’s Lawsuit and Feminist History

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pp. 11-31

In their History of Woman Suffrage, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her coauthors claimed Margaret Fuller as a “precursor” to the American women’s rights movement, which began just three years after the 1845 publication of Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Moreover, they specified, she had wielded this power ...

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2 | “Woes . . . of Which We Know Nothing”: Fuller and the Problem of Feminine Virtue

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pp. 32-51

On a cold winter night in Groton, Massachusetts, just a few months after the death of her father, Timothy, Margaret Fuller walked past bare trees to sit at the bedside of a dying girl. The girl suffered from tuberculosis, but it was not that disease that was soon to end her life. ...

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3 | Fuller, Feminism, Pantheism

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pp. 52-76

In a classic essay on American Transcendentalism, “Jonathan Edwards to Emerson,” Perry Miller traces a strain of interest in pantheistic and mystical energies from Edwards to the Transcendentalists, and especially to Emerson and Margaret Fuller. Asking why Emerson and Fuller would recommit themselves to beliefs ...

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4 | Margaret Fuller, Self-Culture, and Associationism

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pp. 77-99

Let me begin with two anecdotes. The first describes Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, lost in thought one afternoon as she walked directly into a tree. Concerned witnesses asked her if she had not seen the tree in front of her. “Yes, I saw it,” she replied, “but I did not realize it.”1 ...

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5 | “More Anon”: American Socialism and Margaret Fuller’s 1848

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pp. 100-127

When Margaret Fuller arrived in Italy in the spring of 1847, she wrote that although it was cold and gray, she had at last “touched those shores to which I had looked forward all my life.” Fuller spent the remaining years of a life cut short by shipwreck in an Italy that was the scene of multiple revolutions, ...

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6 | Margaret Fuller and Antislavery: “A Cause Identical”

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pp. 128-147

Only late in her short life did Margaret Fuller come to a creditable, appreciative understanding of the American antislavery movement. There was never a time, of course, from childhood on, when slavery did not draw from her at least a measured disapproval, as befitting the alert daughter of cautiously antislavery parents. ...

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7 | Margaret Fuller on Music’s “Everlasting Yes”: A Romantic Critic in the Romantic Era

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pp. 148-160

We can safely add to the list of losses when Margaret Fuller went down with the Elizabeth her further contribution to the understanding and appreciation of classical music as its presence in American cultural life widened and deepened through the second half of the nineteenth century. ...

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8 | Sympathy and Prophecy: The Two Faces of Social Justice in Fuller’s New York Writing

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pp. 161-178

When Margaret Fuller moved from Massachusetts to New York City at the end of 1844, this transition pushed her to a new stage of literary awareness. The deep fault lines of the city made her acutely aware of the ways in which earlier modes of Transcendentalist analysis, focused upon the reform of the self, ...

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9 | Margaret Fuller and Urban Life

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pp. 179-205

Who can see these cities and say that there is any life in them?” asked Thoreau to himself in his Journal in 1843. The answer was ready at hand: Margaret Fuller, that’s who. New York City was their common point of reference, for when Thoreau wrote his truculent query he was a tutor on Staten Island, ...

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10 | Circles around George Sand: Margaret Fuller and the Dynamics of Transnational Reception

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pp. 206-228

Scholarship on Margaret Fuller tends to stress her affinity for George Sand, finding Fuller’s responses to the author unique and radical. Reader response studies, by contrast, maintain that acts of reading are shaped by readers’ situation in interpretive communities and by interpretive approaches that vary historically ...

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Epilogue | “The Measure of My Foot-Print”: Margaret Fuller’s Unfinished Revolution

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pp. 229-244

In a letter that she wrote to William Henry Channing late in 1844, Margaret Fuller told her friend that she had completed Woman in the Nineteenth Century, the book that made her famous then and now. The final pages of the project behind her, Fuller acknowledged to Channing that she “felt a delightful glow ...


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pp. 245-298

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pp. 299-302

Charlene Avallone is an independent scholar based in Kailua, Hawai’i, and is a former faculty member of the University of Notre Dame, where she taught gender studies, and the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She serves on the editorial board of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies. ...


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pp. 303-318

E-ISBN-13: 9781611683479
E-ISBN-10: 1611683475
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611683455

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: New England in the World