‘Transcendentalists in Conversation: Margaret Fuller, Sophia Ripley, and ‘Woman’ – Alice de GALZAIN (University of Edinburgh) – A19 Seminar

Posted on January 21, 2022

21 January 2022 - 14 h 00 min - 16 h 00 min

Profile drawing of “SMF.”. James Freeman Clarke additional papers, MS Am 1569.1, (152). Houghton Library.

A19 invites Alice de Galzain (University of Edinburgh). Her paper is entitled :

Transcendentalist Women in Conversation: Margaret Fuller, Sophia Ripley, and “Woman

Thomas Constantinesco (Sorbonne U) will be discussant.

Abstract: This paper focuses on Sophia Ripley’s 1841 article “Woman,” which was published in the Dial two years before Margaret Fuller’s “The Great Lawsuit. Man Versus Men. Woman Versus Women” appeared in the same publication. Originally written as homework for one of Fuller’s Boston Conversations (1839-1844), Ripley’s plea in favor of women’s right to education perfectly epitomizes the polyphonic nature of feminist social advances in antebellum America. Inspired by Fuller’s feminist reinterpretation of William Ellery Channing’s concept of “self-culture,” viewing education as a means to improve woman’s condition, Ripley’s text debunks the concept of “separate spheres” and urges readers to consider women as intellectual beings rather than through the prism of the idealized, unrealistic “muse”. Inscribing Ripley’s article as part of the feminist stride of the Transcendental movement, I will illustrate the similarities between Ripley’s argument, Fuller’s, and that of other women Transcendentalists, while also confronting it with what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote on the subject.


Alice de Galzain is a Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh. Brought up in a bilingual environment in Europe, she has studied and lived in many different countries, including France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States – which has played a defining role in her transnational approach to literary works. In 2017, she graduated with distinctions from the University of Edinburgh, where she completed a Master of Science in United States literature. Specialized in nineteenth-century U.S. literature, Alice’s research interests include Transcendentalism, transnational writing, abolitionism, and women’s studies. After writing her Master’s dissertation on Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Carlyle’s epistolary friendship and their differences over the abolition of slavery, she is now focusing her research on the relationship between Emerson and Margaret Fuller. In particular, she plans to explore explore how both Emerson’s and Fuller’s Transcendentalist reimagining of the role and status of American women led to a redefinition of the American nation. 

A19 Seminar

Focusing on the long nineteenth century, A19 studies American literature in relation to history, art history, philosophy, and the sciences. Its members and invited speakers also consider American developments in relation to those in Britain and France.

For more information, including the seminar program, please see: https://a19.hypotheses.org.


Related Axis:

Related Seminars: 

Program 2021-2022 :

  • Friday 10 December 2021, 2pm-4pm (zoom + OdG358): Michael JONIK (University of Sussex) “A Dictionary of the Indian Languages”: Thoreau’s Ecopoetic Ethnobotany”- respondent: Antoine Traisnel (U. of Michigan)
  • Friday 21 January, 2pm-4pm:   Alice de GALZAIN (University of Edinburgh) “Transcendentalists in Conversation: Margaret Fuller, Sophia Ripley, and ‘Woman’”
  • Friday 18 February, 2pm-4pm: Bruno MONFORT (Université Paris Nanterre/LARCA UMR 8225) « Rétrospection /rétroaction, raconter le monde avec Poe »
  • Friday 18 March, 2pm-4pm (zoom session): Antoine TRAISNEL (University of Michigan) & Thangham RAVINDRANATHAN (Brown University) “In the Doldrums: Plastic and the Sea” (with the Environmental Humanities Research Group)
  • Friday April, 9, 2pm-4pm:  Hélène VALANCE (Université de Franche Comté) :  “Inconséquences historiques : Les visions anachroniques de Susan Fenimore Cooper dans ‘A Dissolving View’”