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Jan. 23, 2023

American Women Writers in Italy in the 19th Century

The second half of the nineteenth century was a momentous time in Italian history, marked by the unification of the peninsula and the formation of the Kingdom of Italy. Three American women writers had a front-seat view of this history while they lived in Italy: Caroline Crane Marsh, the wife of the United States Minister; journalist Anne Hampton Brewster; and Emily Bliss Gould, founder of a vocational school for Italian children.

Joining me to help us learn more about these American women in Italy in the late 19th Century is Dr. Etta Madden, the Clif & Gail Smart Professor of English at Missouri State University and author of several books, including Engaging Italy: American Women's Utopian Visions and Transnational Networks.

Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. Photo credits: Engraving of Emily Bliss Gould, by A.H. Ritchie, based on a portrait by Lorenzo Suszipj, in A Life Worth Living, by Leonard Woolsey Bacon, 1879, Public Domain; Anne Hampton Brewster, Albumen photograph, ca. 1874, McAllister Collection, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons;  Caroline Crane Marsh, ca 1866, Fratelli Alinari, Florence, Special Collections Library, University of Vermont. 


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Kelly Therese Pollock  0:00  
This is Unsung History, the podcast where we discuss people and events in American history that haven't always received a lot of attention. I'm your host, Kelly Therese Pollock. I'll start each episode with a brief introduction to the topic, and then talk to someone who knows a lot more than I do. Be sure to subscribe to Unsung History on your favorite podcasting app, so you never miss an episode. And please, tell your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, maybe even strangers to listen too. On today's episode, we're discussing three American women writers in Italy in the second half of the 19th century. This was a momentous time in Italian history. The Italian peninsula had long been fragmented, a collection of separate states rather than a unified country. These independent states were weak and often changed hands in the political jockeying happening in Europe. Under Napoleon, the Italian peninsula was conquered by the French and divided in three. Once Napoleon was defeated, the Italian states were again divided and redistributed. By this time, though, some people on the peninsula were beginning to secretly plot toward nationalism. The Young Italy Group was founded in 1831, by Giuseppe Mazzini, a proponent of Italian unification. In 1848, there were a number of revolutions throughout Europe, including uprisings in several Italian cities, that were ultimately unsuccessful. Even so, the idea of unification remained strong. In 1858, the wealthiest of the Italian states, the Kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia, started what would become the final push for unification, coordinated by its Prime Minister, Count Camillo de Cavour, who secured an alliance with France. That alliance proved instrumental when France and Sardinian troops defeated an Austrian invasion in the Franco Austrian War of 1859. As a result of the war, Austria ceded the region of Lombardy to France, who then gave the land to the Kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia. Sardinia took advantage of Austrian weakness, and annexed additional regions in the Italian peninsula. Several Northern Italian states voted to join the kingdom in 1859 and 1860. As compensation to France for their help, Sardinia gave up Savoy and Nice to the French. In 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian general, who had been a one time follower of Mazzini, pulled together an army, which became known as "The Thousand," which he marched into the southern part of the peninsula, overthrowing the Bourbon monarchy in the name of Victor Emmanuel II, the King of Piedmont Sardinia.

In 1861, a national parliament declared the Kingdom of Italy and named Victor Emmanuel II as its king. Only Rome, and Venetia remained outside the kingdom. In 1865, the Italian capital was moved from Turin to Florence. Then, in the 1866 Austro Prussian war, Italy joined forces with Prussia and won control of Venetia. Finally, in 1870, the Italian Army took Rome, completing the unification process. In 1871, the Italian capital moved to Rome. In today's conversation, we'll be looking at this moment and what followed through the eyes of three American women who lived there: Caroline Crane Marsh, Anne Hampton Brewster, and Emily Bliss Gould. Caroline Crane Marsh was born in Berkley, Massachusetts, in 1816. After teaching in Vermont and New York, Caroline married George Perkins Marsh in 1839. In 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed George as Minister Resident in the Ottoman Empire, and it was on their journey there that the Marshes first traveled through Europe. After a return to the United States, Caroline published two volumes of translation, "The Hallig" in 1856, and "Wolfe of the Knoll: and Other Poems" in 1859. In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed George as the first United States minister to the newly united Kingdom of Italy, and Caroline moved there with him.

In Italy, Caroline acted as ambasciatrice, helping George's work. But she also took up her own causes, including raising funds for the orphanage and school of Salvatore Ferretti, a former political exile from the Italian Free Church Movement.After George died in 1882, Carolyn returned to the US to live near her nephew and his family, where she wrote George's biography. She died in 1901. Anne Hampton Brewster was born in Philadelphia on October 29, 1818, the second of three children for Maria Hampton and Francis Enoch Brewster. Maria tried to will her entire estate to Anne, but Anne's father, who died a year after her mother, left everything to his mistress' sons. Eventually Anne's brother, Benjamin, was able to secure part of the inheritance for himself, but Anne was at his mercy. In order to live her own life, Anne moved to Italy, determined to support herself as a writer. She wrote articles for a number of American newspapers, including "The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin" and "The Boston Daily Advertiser," helping to keep Americans informed about life in Italy. In addition to writing 750 or more articles, Brewster also wrote three novels, 52 short stories, numerous poems, and seven pieces of nonfiction. Anne Hampton Brewster never married, and she died on April 1, 1892. On her death, she left her papers and her extensive library to the Philadelphia Library Company. Emily Bliss Gould was born in New York on May 30, 1822. She was a teacher as a young woman, and then married a physician for the US Navy. In an attempt to improve Emily's poor health, the Goulds took grand tour of Europe, arriving in Rome in February, 1861. Like Brewster, Gould wrote for periodicals, contributing travel sketches to Scribners "Hours at Home," and the "Gossip Abroad" column for Bret Hart's "Overland Monthly." In 1870, Emily Bliss Gould founded a vocational school and orphanage for poor Italian children. The school started small, but Gould threw herself into raising funds for it.

Upon her death on August 31, 1875, in Perugia, Italy, Waldensian Giovanni Guarnieri took over as school director. A collection of writings entitled "A Wreath of Stray Leaves to the Memory of Emily Bliss Gould" was published after her death to raise funds for the school. Joining me now to help us learn more about these three women and their time in Italy is Dr. Etta M. Madden, the Clif and Gail Smart Professor of English at Missouri State University, and author of several books, including, "Engaging Italy: American Women's Utopian Visions and Transnational Networks." Hi, Etta, thanks so much for joining me today.

Dr. Etta M. Madden  10:07  
Well, thank you, Kelly, I'm really happy to be here talking with you.

Kelly Therese Pollock  10:12  
Yes, this is a fun book. And I'm excited to speak with you about it. I wanted to get a sense first from you about how you ended up writing this particular book, why these three women in one project, what what that meant.

Dr. Etta M. Madden  10:26  
Okay, and those are at least two questions. So So let me start with the personal one about myself and my interest, and then I'll turn to why these three women. Like many young people, my first experience abroad and in Italy was at as an undergraduate college student who had a study abroad opportunity. So I was young, and fell in love with Italy. And then because of life, money, et cetera, I was not able to go back for a long time, I was awarded a Fulbright teaching position to Italy, just a little bit more than 10 years ago. And what struck me during that semester abroad was how different it was for a middle aged woman, with children, to be in Italy for a semester than it was to be there as an undergraduate college student. And so that semester really got me started thinking about the difference in expat life for adults and expat life for young people. And I was thinking about 19th century American fiction that I often taught, like works by Henry James like "Daisy Miller," Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Marble Font," also set in Italy. And so I was teaching American literature of the 19th century that focused on American expats. And I was also having my own expat experience. And so bringing those two together really pushed me to dive deeper into the experiences of 19th century women in particular. So that's kind of a short version of how I got started on the topic. I knew the usual suspects. Now for someone in American history in general, or just history lovers, they probably are not as familiar with someone like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James as I am. But for those who are in literature, there are usual suspects like James and Hawthorne, and among women from the 19th century, Margaret Fuller, who was the first international news correspondent. She's probably one of the biggest, and then some of the authors like Harriet Beecher Stowe, very famous for "Uncle Tom's Cabin," was abroad on the typical grand tour that 19th century elite Americans took. And Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about her time in Italy as well. And so I started looking at these usual suspects of Americans abroad. And in the process, I found out about a lot more women in particular that were under the radar, even of American literature scholars. And so in the process, I came across the three women in the book, and I'll just go ahead and say their names in the order that I came across them and say a little bit about each of them. Anne Hampton Brewster spent more than 20 years abroad as a newspaper journalist. I came across her name in a book by Helen Barolini called "Their Other Side." And Barolini's book focuses on the impact of Italy on American women. She focuses on big names, Margaret Fuller, for example, but in Barolini's introduction, she names a lot of these women that were under the radar, and there's where I saw Brewster's name. And all Barolini says is, "journalist Anne Hampton Brewster." Because I studied women who write and I knew Margaret Fuller as a journalist abroad, I started digging into Brewster's life and found out about her fascinating career. When I was doing research on Brewster at the Library Company of Philadelphia, I learned to take tips from the archivist there. Archivist librarians are some of the best resources for scholars, often more helpful than some of the paper resources that we're looking at. And so Connie King, who was one of the head archivists at the time at the Library Company of Philadelphia, came across women's names and she sent them to me, and one of the name she sent me was Emily Bliss Gould. And in her humble way, this archivist said, "I suppose you already know about Emily Bliss Gould." Well, you know, I read this email, I think, "You know, I have no idea who Emily Bliss Gould is," so again, I started digging, and I found out that Gould lived in Italy for 15 years, founded an industrial school and orphanage, wrote fundraising reports, wrote for some newspapers that were being published in the States. I'd never heard of her. But the more I learned about her, the more fascinated I became by her social activism. And then the third woman, the wife of the US ambassador to Italy, Caroline Crane Marsh, I actually learned about through a seminar at the American Academy in Rome, in the summer of 2013. We were assigned pages and pages and pages of reading material before that seminar. And in all those pages and books that we were assigned, there was one very short article on Caroline Crane Marsh. And again, I became fascinated in this figure and her more than 20 years abroad in Italy, and started digging into the journals that she wrote, especially while she was in Turin, which was the first capital of Italy. And again, I became fascinated by what she was observing and witnessing in the shadow of her more famous husband. So that's sort of a long answer to your question about me and about how I selected those three women. Now why those three women when there were other ones out there? They they knew each other. And I also wanted to focus on the importance of networks, and the way in which the people that we know, the people that we interact with, whether we consider them our best friends or not, they are important to our livelihood, both emotionally and financially. And so one of the points that I make in the book about these three women is that their relationships in the networks of Americans and Brits abroad was extremely important, even though they didn't consider each of all three great friends. And so I consider it a group biography, looking at the way their lives intertwine. I also selected these three because they had diverse religious affiliations, the sort of Protestant/Roman Catholic sort of animosities that were at the heart of a lot of 19th century politics comes to play in the book as well. Brewster was a Roman Catholic, by conversion as an adult. Gould was very active in the evangelical circles associated with the American Sunday School Union. And Marsh grew up in an Episcopal family. But she was definitely more liberal and liberal leaning than Gould. So I do discuss a bit the way in which their different faiths, practices and beliefs influenced how they interacted with others while they were abroad. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  17:38  
Yeah, so let's talk a little bit about Italy in this time period, because there's a lot going on. And so I, of course, am a lot more familiar with the American context. 1860s and 70s, are obviously hugely important in the United States. And they're also really important in Italy. So what is going on that these women sort of find themselves part of?

Dr. Etta M. Madden  17:59  
Sure. And I'm glad you mentioned what's happening in the United States, because the American Civil War, of course, divides the nation. And when it erupts in 1861, that's only, you know, the public moment of explosion. But we know that things have been rocky for for a while. That's actually kind of a fair analogy to use when thinking about what was happening in Italy at the time. Italy was not united as a single political entity the way that it is today, until 1870. 1870. You know, that's a decade after the beginning of the Civil War. But what had happened throughout the centuries, and I won't talk about that, but just at least in the 19th century, there are revolutions happening across Europe, especially 1848 revolutions are pretty well known. And one of those was in Italy. And it was like a lot of revolutions. It was the we would say sort of the common people. That may not be a very nice phrase to use, but attempts to throw off what was seen as oppressive monarchy, sometimes, especially external forces. So you know, in Italy, powers in Austria or the powers of France, and there were attempts to throw that off and sort of maybe bring different kingdoms within that were on the peninsula, to unify them or bring them together. So again, with the the image of the United States as a union, we could say on on the peninsula of Italy, there were all these different kingdoms, and there were views, "Well, if we unify these kingdoms, we'll have a much stronger civil society." So that's maybe overly simplified, but that's part of what's happening in Italy. And people in the US that are interested in international politics are really concerned and interested in what's happening. It impacts the European revolution's impact on the number of immigrants who are floating in to the United States, or flooding into United States, and with all of those immigrants come diverse religious practices. Political life in the US at this point is is dominated primarily by Protestants. And there's a lot of fear of Roman Catholics. And so while these controversies about slavery are happening in the US, there's also an interest in what is happening in Europe, specifically in Italy with the power of the Pope. So the book touches upon the way in which these debates are over papal authority. The church's power, the Roman Catholic church's power is disrupting civil life on the peninsula. And these three women are living in Italy, when all this is happening.

Kelly Therese Pollock  20:45  
I think one of the things that's interesting about these three women is that they're, they have both a certain amount of privilege and power, obviously, to be able to travel to Italy, to move to Italy. They've got resources at their disposal, but they're women. And so they're they're sort of navigating this both having power, but in some ways not having power, and what does that mean. And I think that that comes out some in the way that they are responding to what is happening in Italy, and the way that they're trying to, in some ways insert themselves into what is going on. So could you talk a little bit about that, because I know that's a particular interest of yours?

Dr. Etta M. Madden  21:27  
Sure, maybe it will be helpful to think about the book's title. So "Engaging Italy," I wanted to pick up on the way in which not only were these women engaged by Italy, and all the dreams of culture and history, good food, good wine, art, but also the way in which they became engaged with the political climate while they were there. The book's subtitle, "American Women's Utopian Visions and Transnational Networks," is a mouthful. I have to read the title sometimes to be sure of it. But what I what I wanted to bring up was utopian visions, emphasizing the way in which each of these three women had dreams or visions of what they thought Italy was, and what it could be, what it might be, and that differed from woman to woman. So let me just go back to Brewster, for example. She did grow up in a family in Philadelphia, relatively privileged, but there were issues with inheritance because her father had left her mother and so forth. So when she went abroad, she was concerned about money, and she needed her newspaper writing to help support her financially. She saw Italy as a place in which she could be an independent woman, supporting herself and free from her brother's control. As far as helping society, utopianism has this vision and part of part of utopianism is social improvement. So for Brewster, social improvement had to do with educating readers at home about Italian culture. And she did have quite the elitist view. But her view was very much about sharing Italian culture with readers in the US. For Gould and Marsh, they were much more interested in helping impoverished, illiterate Italian children. And so their vision was very much, "Let's see how we can bring what we know, to these young Italians in need that had been repressed by the Pope." So there is both an elitism there for those women as well as a kind of Protestantism that that emerges.

Kelly Therese Pollock  23:46  
I want to dive a little bit into this idea of Utopia, and you're talking about what what they envisioned Italy might be and so then what what ways are their utopian visions both realized in some ways, but also challenged by what is actually happening around them and what they are experiencing?

Dr. Etta M. Madden  24:07  
Sure. Okay, so I'm going to talk about Brewster first. Again, the journalist, she is flying high, the first five years of her time in Rome. She is being asked for more newspaper articles than she can possibly handle. She's working all the time. She's writing all the time. She brags in her journal, she writes journals extensively. She brags in her journals about how much money she's making from her writing. But what happens? She arrives at 1868. By 1878, a decade later, her agreements, what we would call contracts, her contracts with newspapers are beginning to decline. And people have debated why that is. One argument is that newspaper styles and interests have changed. Another is that the political upheaval in Italy is not quite as exciting at the end of the 1870s as it was at the beginning of the 1870s. But what we see in her in her journals is that she declines in popularity. She's also aging. So she goes from being a woman in her 50s to a woman around 70. And she ends up having to move from Rome to Siena to cut back on her expenses, and basically dies in Siena, not quite all alone, she has two household helpers. But she dies other than that, basically alone, and her body is sent back to United States. And so her vision is realized at first, and then it sort of unwinds. And I think we can say something of the same thing for the other two women, although their goals were to work with education, primarily. Gould suffers with ill health, works very hard with the school and orphanage, and we could say she dies at the height of her work in 1875 from her ill health. A book that she had planned as a fundraising volume is published right after her death. So she doesn't see it to fruition, but it is published. And then after that a biography is written about her. So on the one hand, you can say her vision of helping these young people was fulfilled. But then her her husband who outlives her and he was not involved with the schools, she ends up handing her project over fully to the Waldensian Church, Waldensian denomination. Now the Waldensians had been really important to her work from the very beginning. So it was kind of a natural transition to them. But it's kind of a sad, a sad way for her story to end. I think Caroline Crane Marsh's is a little bit different. The way that I see Caroline's vision change is while she's very hopeful and optimistic about how the Italian young people can be taught, by the mid 70s, just before Gould dies, Caroline Crane Marsh begins to sense that Americans abroad and Brits abroad who think they can help all of these impoverished children are so out of touch with the reality of poverty. She gives one example in her diary of a fundraising committee planning a theatrical for Florence. And they're going to have this great, you know, fundraising theatrical show, but the bank books for for the school and orphanage in Florence are just out of whack, the expenses are outweighing the income. And the women who are planning this theatrical are looking at these really, really, really expensive costumes for the third theatrical production and Caroline Crane Marsh is writing in her journal about, "Oh, you know, these women just don't get it, you know. We're never going to make any money if all the money's going into costumes." So that's just one example of the kind of despair that she begins to feel. And the way that I see her life changes beginning in the mid 70s, she tends to turn her attention more to her household. She has no biological children. But she and her husband, George often have nieces live with them to help educate the nieces, and also to give Caroline a hand because she too is an invalid. And so she begins to sort of rein in her work, as the ambassador's wife is focused on what she can do with her household and how she can help the expats as the ambassador's wife more than helping the Italians in need. You know, a short way of summing it up is all three women began to see the limitations. If they go abroad with these high hopes and beliefs about what they can do, what we might call American exceptionalism, "Here am I the great American. I know the best way to live," they definitely are humbled during their time abroad to realize, "I'm living in another culture. This is this is a culture that is not my own." And they scale back their, their, their views of what they're able to accomplish. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  29:12  
Yeah. So we've been talking some about the sources that you used, but I wanted to dive into that a little bit more because you have no shortage of sources here to work with. And as you've alluded to, you have both journals, their own personal writing, sometimes their letters, but also their public writings, especially Brewster has a lot of public writings, but all three of them have some. So could you talk some about that and since your training is in English, how you go about analyzing those sources that you have and how you can sort of pull those together, see the difference between private and public writing and how you synthesize everything?

Dr. Etta M. Madden  29:51  
I love working in archives, and probably any historians that are listening also love working in archives. What I want to do when I write about letters and diaries, is try to make them come to life. It's very tempting just to like, quote everything, but that's too much and becomes too tedious. But I will say that in literary studies, we do tend to restate what is in a passage much more than historians do. And that is, that's because we want to let the person's writing stand as their writing rather than paraphrase it all completely. So that,  that, for me was a challenge of writing the book, and to try to find the right balance. Another another challenge that I want to take, for example, Emily Bliss Gould. She wrote extensive diaries. We know because they're referred to in the biography that was written after she passed away. So the, the man who wrote her biography refers to these diaries. I was never able to find those. And so I relied on his quotes from her diaries in that biography, which is not the best way to do research, right? I would love for those diaries to, to show up at some point. And then also for Gould's letters. I found a few, especially the letters that she wrote to the ambassador, George Perkins Marsh, and to Caroline, his wife. Interestingly, I'll just throw this in. Emily Bliss, Gould wrote more letters to George than she did to Caroline, which is not appropriate for a 19th century woman. But she seemed to, she and George seemed to have much more of a fun communication, shall I say, and their their rhetoric and their their play in the letters. And I think that Emily knew George's power as an ambassador. And so she really worked with that as much as she, as she wrote to Caroline. So those letters exist. But But Emily wrote to a lot of other people, and we don't have those letters. And so in the case of the Waldensian Church, for example, we have copies of the letters that they, the leaders of the Waldensian Church, wrote to her because they were collaborating on the schools in Rome. They were really working together, and didn't always go well. But we have letters, records of letters, copies of letters, that those Waldensian leaders, these were men, wrote to Emily Bliss Gould, but we don't have the letters that she wrote to them. And so one of the things that I had to do was take their letters, and look at what they were writing to her to imagine what she had written to them to provoke their anger or their happiness. And so, so I also look at a two way conversation where I only have one half of the conversation and try to figure out what the other half was like. So that, you know, that's, that's definitely part of what's in the book. Another item that's in the book that is much more literary is looking at some poems, and the way in which those poems were circulated, and read aloud at gatherings. So these women had, we would call them receptions that you might think of it as salon culture. It was very typical for a woman to say this is my visiting day, it's Thursday afternoons or Thursday evenings. Brewster had two receptions a week at the height of our career. Expats abroad knew that they needed to go to Brewster's receptions, that was where people hung out, that's where they went to see and to be seen. And so it's quite likely that at those receptions, someone might read a poem aloud that they had written. One of those that I talked about in the book, we have no evidence that it was ever published. But it is an ode to Queen Anne basically. And Brewster kept it. It's in her manuscripts. And so I, I read that at length, the way that we would read a 19th century poem looking at the images and the meter and such, but I also try to explain the way in which these poems were read aloud. And whoever was reading it called attention to Anne Brewster, but they also were calling attention to themselves as a great poet, right? So there's this kind of social dynamic that's going on. It's way beyond the page of the poem. And so I think as a as a literary critic, that's definitely something that I add that maybe somebody in his that's just a historian might not do.

Kelly Therese Pollock  34:20  
So, while we're on the topic of sources, I read that you have an interest in digital humanities and in digitizing some of Brewster's works in particular. Could you talk a little bit about that?

Dr. Etta M. Madden  34:30  
Oh, that's I'm so glad that you noticed that! That's fantastic. So one of the things that I've been doing for the last year and a half with help from students at Missouri State and former students at Missouri State is preparing for a website. The 1869 and 1870 newspaper articles published in The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin that Brewster wrote from Rome, just those two years and it's about 75 articles, a little bit more than that, that have her name on them. It's possible that there are others that she wrote that her name is not on. Those she definitely signed. And so those will be on the web. They're not there yet. Hopefully, they're going to be up within the year. And they have, there will also be biographical information about Anne Hampton Brewster, and also what we'll call a personography. She lists, she names, I would say, name drops more than 500 people, their names in those articles. And so there'll be a cross reference to all those people. And then it'll be you know, to be searchable if someone that's doing historical work could could look for. One of the reasons we selected The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin news articles is that that newspaper is not easily accessible. A lot of newspapers have been digitized and are freely available. But that one is not, and it's the one that she wrote for the most. It will be, the project is part of the digital recovery hub that is sponsored by Southern Illinois University, and the University of Nebraska, and it's funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. So I've been really delighted to be a part of that. And I look forward to to launching the website when we get to that point. We're not quite there yet. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  36:19  
Yeah, so in addition to Brewster's work, what what other sorts of things do you think in the coming years, in the coming decades, we'll be able to digitize and be able to find like that.

Dr. Etta M. Madden  36:30  
So one of the things has happened within the last year is that Caroline Crane Marsh's, diary that she kept while she was living in Turin, they are housed at the University of Vermont. Just this past year, within the last six months, those are now available online through the University of Vermont special collections. So I think that's fantastic. It's only it only represents a few years of her time in Italy. But it's the first few years. And it shows how extensively she was engaged with this changing political climate in Italy. So I think it's possible maybe somebody will come across Gould's diaries. Maybe they're somewhere and people didn't know about Gould, and they didn't know who she was. And maybe through this work, they'll come to know more about Gould, and maybe her diaries will turn up, because I think they've got to be really rich also.

Kelly Therese Pollock  37:23  
Yeah. Yeah. That's fascinating to think about. Is there anything else you wanted to make sure we talked about?

Dr. Etta M. Madden  37:30  
Well, you know, just thinking about your, your podcast title, "Unsung History," you cover so many topics. But you know, the purpose is to let people know about people and places that have been under the radar, as I see it. And you know, this, the book that I wrote is just about three women. But there are so many more, you know, there are so many more people out there who did interesting things that we can learn from. You know, people often ask me, "Well, what did you learn from this? What's important about it to us nowadays?" For me, one of the important things, well, there are several important things, but one is that it's never too late following your calling. These women went abroad at midlife or later, and found a way to follow a passion that maybe they didn't have when they were Daisy Miller's age, Henry, James's character, so that not to be afraid to follow a new passion. But from the perspective of traveling, also, to realize our own limitations, yes, to be open to learn, to look at what we what we are facing around us,to do what we can, but also to accept what we can't do, and to not be abrasive toward the people we come in contact with. And I think that's a really important, important lesson to readers at any age, but especially with people traveling more and more. Now, I think it's really, really important.

Kelly Therese Pollock  38:59  
Well, how can people get a copy of "Engaging Italy?"

Dr. Etta M. Madden  39:03  
Well, "Engaging Italy" was published by SUNY Press, and you can go directly to the SUNY Press website. However, since we're airing in January, I will say that there is a 30% off coupon available through the end of March, 2023, and that coupon code is on my website, which is And it's posted prominently there. So if you want to take advantage of the 30% off for the paperback, you can do that. You do have to order it through SUNY Press website, but the code is on on my website. And then if there are also the hardcover copies, which are much more expensive and there is also an E version available, and I'm happy to communicate with people if anybody hears this and they want to know more. I love communicating with people that have read something about these three women.

Kelly Therese Pollock  39:56  
Alright, I have one final question for you and that is you have also edited a book about food. How did you ever turn away from food? I feel like if I started writing and editing about food, like that'd be it.

Dr. Etta M. Madden  40:10  
Well, I haven't completely turned away from it. But it's like a lot of other things. There are so many people writing about food that any to be a specialist in anything, you really have to keep giving it attention. And once I started this project on women in Italy, I just, I just didn't have as much time, but oh, I love Italian food, and I love food and community and I read, you know, cooking blogs. So I'm still interested in it. And I actually last spring, I gave a talk on utopian food waste. So it's still it's still there. But I'm not writing about it right now.

Kelly Therese Pollock  40:42  
Yeah, yeah. I think I would just get lost in food. So

Dr. Etta M. Madden  40:46  
I know well, and I, you know, people always ask about the next project and I, I do have some ideas about going back to communal food practices that might also involve agriculture. But that's a that's only a dream right now. It's only a utopian vision.

Kelly Therese Pollock  41:04  
I love it. Well, Etta, thank you so much for speaking with me. This was really fun. I really enjoyed the book and have loved hearing more about these women. 

Dr. Etta M. Madden  41:12  
Well, thank you, Kelly.I've enjoyed sharing.

Teddy  41:17  
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Etta MaddenProfile Photo

Etta Madden

Etta Madden is the author or editor of four books, which consider American women writers, Italy, and utopian literature and intentional communities: Engaging Italy: American Women’s Utopian Visions and Transnational Networks (SUNY Press), Eating in Eden: Food and American Utopias (U Nebraska Press), Selections from Eliza Leslie (U Nebraska Press), and Bodies of Life: Shaker Literature and Literacies (Greenwood).

The recipient of a Fulbright award, Etta has been a research fellow at the New York Public Library, an NEH Seminar participant at the American Academy in Rome, and a two-time recipient of a Mellon Fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia.

She teaches courses on American literature, women writers, and utopian visions as Clif & Gail Smart Professor of English at Missouri State University. On the faculty there since 1995, Etta has served in several capacities across campus.

Etta’s teaching, writing and speaking on these wide-ranging topics emerge from a longstanding interest in what it means to be an individual within communities—religious and spiritual communities, in particular; what it means to be a woman in a world where gender roles are in flux; and the roles of writing and reading for intellectual and emotional health.

While studying abroad as an undergraduate, Etta fell in love with Italy—the people, the culture, the language—and has returned as often as her career and family will allow.