Event—Public Programming

Making Melville Legible

Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings, 2017, the final work in the 15-volume edition

Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings, 2017, the final work in the 15-volume edition

Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings, 2017, the final work in the 15-volume edition

The Northwestern-Newberry Edition of Moby-Dick, 2001 (First edition, 1988)

Editors recall 50 years of work on the 15-volume critical edition, The Writings of Herman Melville, and scholars reflect on its significance for textual editing and on Melville studies today.


9:30 am Coffee and Continental Breakfast, Baskes Boardroom

10-11:15 am Session 1: A Retrospective on the Edition and Its Crew

Presentations by two of the editors:

G. Thomas Tanselle
Alma A. MacDougall

Moderated by Robin Grey

11:15-11:45 am Coffee Break, Baskes Boardroom

11:45 am-1 pm Session 2: Melville Studies Today

"The Critical Archive: The Northwestern-Newberry Edition and Digital Editing"

John L. Bryant

"'When they circle our beautiful destroyers'": Melville and the Allure of Trumpism"

James Noel


Robin Grey

About the Speakers

John L. Bryant, Professor Emeritus of English at Hofstra University, specializes in Melville, textual studies, and digital scholarship, with research focused on nineteenth-century American literature and culture. Former president of The Melville Society, he is also the author of Melville and Repose, The Fluid Text: A Theory of Revision and Editing for Book and Screen, and Melville Unfolding, editor of the Longman Critical Edition of Moby-Dick, founding and consulting editor of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and director of the Melville Electronic Library.

Robin Grey is Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research centers on trans-Atlantic connections between 19th-century American and Renaissance and 17th-century British authors. She is the author of several books, including Melville & Milton: An Edition and Analysis of Melville's Annotations on Milton.

Alma A. MacDougall contributed to the Northwestern-Newberry Melville Edition in a variety of capacities for over thirty-five years, initially as Editorial Coordinator, as joint editor of several volumes, and most recently as Executive Editor. She has also edited numerous scholarly works on Melville, notably Hershel Parker's two-volume biography (Johns Hopkins, 1996 and 2001), and on topics such as art history, drama, film studies, and world literature.

James Noel earned a PhD in 2017 from Goldsmith's, University of London, writing his dissertation on Floating Stages: Racial Performance in Herman Melville's 1850s Texts. He teaches at Los Medanos College in California and has presented numerous papers and public lectures on Moby-Dick and other aspects of Melville studies.

G. Thomas Tanselle has written widely on textual criticism, scholarly editing, book collecting, and the history of the book, in addition to studies of a variety of literary authors. His books include A Rationale of Textual Criticism and Literature and Artifacts. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1960 to 1978, then served as Vice-President of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and as Adjunct Professor of English at Columbia University until 2006. He applied his work in theoretical aspects of textual criticism as an editor for the Northwestern-Newberry edition.

Note: This program will be followed at 2 pm by a related event, "Moby-Dick: An Expanding Operatic Tradition," a panel discussion with illustrative arias. Please register to attend that event separately, using the link on the web page for that program.

This event is part of our programming in connection with the exhibition Melville: Finding America at Sea, sponsored by Elizabeth Amy Liebman and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. See the exhibition from January 18 through April 6, 2019, at the Newberry.

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