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Nathaniel Hawthorne Society To Hold Conference at MCLA

06/05/2014

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Beginning on June 12, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will host "Hawthorne in the Berkshires: The Nathaniel Hawthorne Society Biennial Summer Meeting." The conference, which will run through June 15, will include a public plenary address by Larry J. Reynolds, Ph.D., a University Distinguished Professor and the Thomas Franklin Mayo Professor of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University.

Reynold's talk, "Divine Omnipotence and Suffering Humanity: Hawthorne's Answer to Ahab," which is free and open to the public, will examine the key distinctions between Hawthorne and another author who spent time in the Berkshires, Herman Melville. It will take place on Friday, June 13, from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., in Murdock Hall room 218.

"MCLA is very pleased to be hosting the Society's conference and to welcome scholars from across the United States and the world to North Adams to experience the Berkshires that so influenced Nathaniel Hawthorne," said Cynthia Brown, MCLA's vice president of academic affairs.

The Nathaniel Hawthorne Society's biennial conferences help to create and sustain networks of Hawthorne scholars, nationally and internationally, according to Rosemary Fisk, president of the Society and the conference's organizer.

The Society previously met at the College in 1990. The Berkshires, said Fisk, is the place where Hawthorne believed his family could live economically while he tested the profession of authorship.

"Although this scenic region most often appears in Hawthorne studies as the setting for his first meeting with Herman Melville in 1850 and the inspiration for the resulting literacy productions of both men, Hawthorne's connection with North Adams actually occurred much earlier," Fisk said.

Hawthorne visited North Adams in 1838, when he mentioned in his personal notebook several visits to Natural Bridge and the nearby marble quarry.

According to Reynolds, the title of his address refers to a quotation from "The Marble Faun" and Hawthorne's description of Sodoma's "Christ Bound" painting, which he viewed in Sienna, Italy last summer. The experience, he said, got him thinking about the humility informing Hawthorne's religious sensibility as opposed to Melville's heaven-assaulting anger.

Reynolds, a former Hawthorne Society president, is the author or editor of nine books, including "A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne" and "Devils and Rebels: The Making of Hawthorne's Damned Politics." His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, and the United States Information Agency.
For more information, go to www.mcla.edu.