Monday, June 17, 7:00pm Welcome Reception, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room Concurrent Exhibit of Melville Editions, Manuscripts, Family Letters, and Related Materials New York Public Library, 476 Fifth Avenue
We will gather on our first evening at the main branch of the New York Public Library, a building celebrated for its iconic Beaux-Arts marble façade and the pair of stone lions flanking its entrance. A special exhibit for conference-goers will feature Melville editions and Melville-related manuscripts drawn from several of the library’s divisions, including the Manuscripts and Archives Division and the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
Tuesday, June 18, 10:45am-12:45pm Digital Demonstration and Discussion Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, Room 745 “Mapping Melville and Martí in Manhattan: Itinerary and Community in the Digital 19C” Scholars from Hofstra, Pace, and New York University will join Performant Software to demonstrate “Melville in Manhatthan,” the latest version of Itinerary, a tool developed at Hofstra’s Digital Research Center for mapping Melville’s geographical imagination. John Bryant (Hofstra) and Thomas Augst (NYU) will model biographical and spatial data to illuminate Melville’s life in a city undergoing extraordinary growth. Contrasting Melville with Jose Martí, the best known writer in the Hispanophone publishing community, Kelley Kreuz (Pace University) will discuss data about the Spanish-language press that thrived in lower Manhattan during the nineteenth century. Developers Jamie Folsom and Nick Laiacomo will discuss digital tools for teaching, research, and publishing in literary and cultural history, as well as pedagogical applications for “Melville in Manhattan.” What does it mean to map authorship? How might digital humanities mapping methods and tools supplement author-based approaches to literary history with new approaches that might center on editorship, networks of production and circulation, communities, or other conceptual frameworks? How might we bring together diverse data-sets in order to identify previously understudied itineraries, voices, and collaborations within literary history? How can virtual spaces and place-based pedagogy help make local connections and movements of 19th-century authors newly visible to 21st-century readers and students?
Tuesday, June 18, 5:30-7:30pm Film Screenings, New York University David Shaerf’s Call Us Ishmael (2017) and Daniel Emond’s The Whale (in development) This screening will showcase two film projects inspired by Melville’s Moby-Dick. David Shaerf’s documentary Call Us Ishmael takes us on a journey to meet Moby-Dick enthusiasts as they reveal their personal fascination with Captain Ahab and the most famous whale of all time. The film shows us how the novel has not only affected their lives but also created a larger community of people brought together by the power of Melville’s masterpiece. Daniel Emond’s music video The Whale offers a preview of his concept album, musical and live-action film, Kill theWhale: A Musical Odyssey of Moby Dick. The video re-imagines Moby-Dick as a series of songs baring the souls of each character on board Captain Ahab’s vessel. It seeks to deconstruct biases, using gender-bending motifs to place non-males in the roles of authority, and casting peoples from opposite ends of the world as soul mates.
Wednesday, June 19, 12:30-1:30pm Lunchtime Tour, Merchant’s House Museum, 29 E. 4th Street (we will ask for registration and payment in advance; $18 per person, $13 for seniors) We will offer a lunchtime tour of the Merchant’s House Museum, one of the finest surviving examples of architecture from Melville’s Manhattan (at the height of his father’s prosperity, the young Melville lived in houses on nearby Bleecker Street and on Broadway between Bond and Great Jones). The house was built in 1832 and purchased three years later by Seabury Treadwell, a prosperous hardware merchant. The Treadwell family lived there for almost 100 years, and the house became the only family home in New York City to survive intact from the nineteenth century with original furniture, decorative arts, and personal possessions. The house is a national historic landmark, and in New York City it has been awarded landmark status for both its 1832 late-Federal brick exterior and its Greek revival interior rooms.
Wednesday, June 19, 7:00-9:00pm Swimming Through Libraries Rare Books Room at Strand Books, 828 Broadway
Founded in 1927 on what was then known as "Book Row," Strand Books is one of the nation's most celebrated independent bookstores. In addition to carrying 2.5 million new, used, and rare books, the Strand pays special tribute to Melville by featuring the iconic sperm whale of Moby-Dick on the signage for its fiction section. Join us after dinner in the Rare Books Room for coffee and dessert. We will hear a selection from John Bryant's forthcoming biography, Herman Melville: A Half Known Life, as well as poems from Re-Writing Moby-Dick, a new anthology of Melville-inspired poetry edited by Elizabeth Schultz and Kylan Rice. Editor Robert K. Elder will exhibit a beautiful new edition of Moby-Dick containing 300-plus illustrations based on a 1950 series of paintings and drawings by muralist Gilbert Wilson.
After the panels conclude, head to the southern tip of Manhattan, where Melville was born and where Ishmael stood fixed in his ocean reveries. We have organized four afternoon activities, each of which will run twice, from 2:00 to 3:45 and then again from 4:00 to 5:45. There is no charge, but we ask that you sign up when you register for the conference. All conference-goers can visit the museum or tour the Wavertree ship at their leisure.
1. Walking Tour of Melville’s Manhattan This tour will guide walkers to places significant to Melville and his writing.Highlights may include the site of Melville's birth; the site on Fulton Street whereMoby-Dick was typeset; 55 Wall Street, where Melville worked as a customs inspector; and various spots that inspired his fictional landscapes, such as Coenties Slip, Trinity Church, St. Paul's Chapel (which stood opposite Barnum's American Museum), and City Hall Park.
2. Tour of Schermerhorn Row and the Fulton Ferry Hotel This tour will take you to the strip of brick warehouses on Fulton Street built by Peter Schermerhorn in 1811-1812. Of special interest will be the Fulton Ferry Hotel, which closed its doors in the 1930s but has since remained largely untouched inside. The abandoned hotel is an archaeological site of sorts, offering a unique glimpse of 19th- and early-20th-century life at the seaport.
3. Printing Workshop, Bowne Print Shop This workshop will demonstrate the traditional methods of hand-set type using a set of working historic nineteenth-century presses, fonts, and custom plates.
4. Historic Tattoo Presentation, South Street Seaport Museum This presentation will focus on the history of tattooing and the maritime origins of modern tattoo art. It will highlight the museum’s Alan Govenar and Kaleta Doolin Tattoo Collection, which includes rare photographs, sketches, and tattoo instruments of sea-merchant-turned-tattooist Gus Wagner.
Thursday, June 20, 6:00-8:00pm Reception, Melville Gallery, 213 Water Street Celebrate the conclusion of the conference in this historic building named in honor of Herman Melville. The Melville Gallery was built in 1868 as a warehouse for A.A. Thompson & Co., a tin and metal company, and is now part of the South Street Seaport Museum. It was badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy in 2012 but has been restored and reopened.
Friday, June 21, 7:30am-8:00pm Optional Excursion to Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT (additional cost of $75; please sign up when you register for the conference)
The largest maritime museum in the United States, Mystic Seaport Museum features a New England coastal village, a working shipyard, and formal exhibit halls. The Museum is home to more than 500 historic watercraft, including the world's only surviving wooden whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan, which was built seven miles away from and seven months after the Acushnet, the whaler on which Melville sailed from New Bedford in 1841. Mystic Seaport Museum is dedicated to preserving the skills of the shipwrights, riggers, sailmakers, seafarers, and whalemen of the 19th century as well as the artifacts that survive from that period.
7:30am Depart Washington Square by charter bus 10:00-10:30am Arrive at Mystic 11:00-11:45am Whaleboat demonstration 12:00-1:00pm Opportunity for all those interested to row a whaleboat and handle a harpoon 1:00-2:00pm Lunch 2:00-3:00pm Moby-Dick tour of Charles W. Morgan led by Mary K Bercaw Edwards (1st group) 3:00-4:00pm Moby-Dick tour of Charles W. Morgan led by Mary K Bercaw Edwards (2nd group) 3:30-4:00pm The furling of the sails of the Charles W. Morgan 4:00-4:45pm Sea music performance for conference attendees 5:30pm Depart Mystic and arrive back at Washington Square around 8:00pm
Additional Things to Do (check back for updates)
Stonewall 50 and NYC Pride Throughout the month of June In June, NYC Pride will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and a half-century of LGBTQ liberation. The Stonewall Inn, a bar just a short walk from Washington Square at 51-53 Christopher Street, was the scene of an uprising against police repression in June 1969. The event catalyzed the LGBTQ rights movement, and today the site has been designated a national historic landmark. The bar itself is still in operation and open to the public. To mark the Stonewall anniversary, Greenwich Village will host the WorldPride celebration, culminating in the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 30. You can find a schedule of free and ticketed events planned for the entire month here.
Melville's Grave at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY Open daily, 8:30am-4:30pm Melville’s grave is in Woodlawn Cemetery, a picturesque rural cemetery built in 1863. The Bronx cemetery is a designated national historic landmark and the final resting place for numerous artists, writers, and civil leaders, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Countee Cullen, Robert Moses, and Frederick Law Olmsted. Melville is buried there next to his wife, Elizabeth, sons Malcolm and Stanwix, daughter Bessie, and granddaughter Eleanor Melville Metcalf. The cemetery is accessible by the 4 train on the subway and Metro North Railroad from Grand Central Station.