- All Astir
Much is happening throughout the Melville world. The organizers of the Tenth International Melville Conference, “Melville in a Global Context,” to be held in Tokyo, Japan, June 25-29, 2015, have finalized plans for the conference. Information and registration can be found at <http://peatix.com/event/61390>. Information is also posted on the Melville Society website <http://melvillesociety.org/>. The conference will include thirty sessions with presenters from all over the world. Highlights of the conference are keynote talks by Elizabeth Schultz and Natsuki Ikezawa, a prominent Japanese poet, novelist, and translator, a symposium with Karen Tei Yamashita, a special reading by John Bryant, and an art installation featuring Melville-related works. There will also be optional tours to major sightseeing spots in Tokyo and to the historic towns of Kamakura and Yokosuka. The conference is presented by the Melville Society in collaboration with the Melville Society of Japan and Keio University’s G-SEC American Studies Project.
The Melville Society’s Hennig Cohen Prize committee is very pleased to announce that this year’s Hennig Cohen Prize for the best article, book chapter, or essay on Herman Melville goes to Jennifer Greiman for her essay, “Circles upon Circles: Tautology, Form, and the Shape of Democracy in Tocqueville and Melville,” which appeared in J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 1.1 (Spring 2013): 121-146. The committee writes in praise of Greiman’s article:
Examining Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Melville’s Moby-Dick in the context of the political philosophy of Jacques Derrida, Hannah Arendt, and others, Greiman makes the case that both authors use circular metaphors to evoke the possibilities of democracy, as well as its inherent contradictions and “precariousness.” While acknowledging how Tocqueville and Melville “foreground [democracy’s] limitations—its exclusivity, its capacity for self-destruction,” Greiman contends that they also identify “the circles of democracy with the art of common action.” Her claim is compellingly supported by a sustained reading of chapter 87, “The Grand Armada,” which finds in the pod of sperm whales pursued by the Pequod through the straits of Sunda, “a powerful instance of action in common—indeed, a pledge that joins the principle of its community with the action that creates and secures that community.” Greiman’s incisive essay confirms the abiding importance of Melville’s art to considerations of democracy and offers thrilling new directions for Melville studies.
Congratulations to Jennifer! [End Page 109]
With NEH funding and much work on the part of Melville scholars, especially Director John Bryant and Associate Director Wyn Kelley, the Melville Electronic Library: A Critical Archive is thriving. MELCamp 5, a meeting of the project’s associates, will be held April 30–May 2, 2015, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ryan Cordell of Northeastern University will give the keynote address on April 30, and on May 1, Peter Donaldson (MIT), Julia Flanders (Northeastern University), and John Unsworth (Brandeis) will offer a panel. Please visit the MEL website at <http://mel.hofstra.edu/index.html>.
A new image of the portrait of Herman Melville painted by Joseph Oriel Eaton in May 1870 is now featured, by permission of the Houghton Library at Harvard University, on the Melville Society website. The new image is a reproduction of the recently restored Eaton portrait (HCL Call Number: 61Z-4) that hangs in the foyer of the Houghton, the primary repository for the Harvard College Library’s rare books and manuscripts. Visit the Melville Society website at <http://melvillesociety.org/> for up-to-date information about upcoming conferences, projects, and events. The website also hosts photo albums that commemorate many past events, meetings, and conferences, and various photo albums of places that were important to Melville, as well as friends and family, during his lifetime.
In May 2014, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Daniel Bianchi cut the ribbon on the new front porch of Arrowhead, Melville’s home in the Berkshires. An exact reproduction of the circa-1870 porch built by Allan Melville, it not only looks beautiful but also will protect the new front door. The original porch was built after Herman and Lizzie left Arrowhead, but they continued to visit...