“If the poet you’d understand / Go you must in the poet’s land.”
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Besserem Verständniss,” West-oestlicher Divan (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1819)
“I see—New Englandly—”
–Emily Dickinson, “The robin’s my criterion for tune,” 1861 (Franklin F256A)
In keeping with our general theme of place, including sites and material conditions of authorship and reception, we are devoting our post-conference excursions primarily to the writers’ houses in which our region is so rich. Another option will focus on the local culture of the book and book arts.
Price for each (lunch included): $60
The three longer excursions will depart around 8:30 a.m. and in most cases arrive back in Amherst in early evening, in time for dinner (the western excursion will probably arrive back in Amherst closer to 9 p.m.).
(Note: precise departure and return times may change slightly. Check this site for updates. We will also be directly in touch with registered participants regarding any adjustments.)
Kindly register by June 19
(We need to commit to the number and size of vehicles by then; afterwards, we will make our best efforts to accommodate any additional requests but we cannot guarantee a place.)
Writers’ Homes & Literary Museums
EASTERN ROUTE: REVOLUTIONARIES AND TRANSCENDENTALISTS (35 persons) $60 (lunch included)
• The Concord Museum: the focus on New England Colonial/Revolutionary and Early National history includes exhibits of particular book-historical interest such as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study and library. The ideal start for the exploration of an area so rich in history. (The new education center opened in November 2018 and the renovated museum itself reopens in 2019.)
• Orchard House: the most permanent home of the Alcott family (1858-77), where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women.
• Minuteman National Park (Old North Bridge Battlefield). Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous phrase, the “shot heard round the world,” occurs in the Concord Hymn he wrote for the dedication of the monument (1837) on the site of this 1775 battle at the start of the American Revolution.
• The Old Manse: “The first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired nearby – and, less than a century later, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau spawned a revolution in American philosophy from here.”
• [tentative/probable] Walden Pond: where Henry David Thoreau lived from 1845 to 1847 and began to record the thoughts on nature and society that have become famous as Walden (1858)
SOUTHERN ROUTE: THE POWER OF WORDS
(35 persons) $60 (lunch included)
Behind-the-scenes tour of Merriam-Webster, the US preeminent publisher of dictionaries.
Mark Twain House: Twain built this luxurious home, in which he lived with his family from 1874 to 1891. Here he wrote, among other works: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center: The author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin spent the last 23 year of her life (1873-96) here, next to Twain House. The museum is distinctive in that its mission includes encouraging continued work in social justice.
Noah Webster House: birthplace of Noah Webster (1758). The famed lexicographer, who also played a central role in Amherst cultural history, viewed reform of education and spelling as essential to the building of a unified and democratic American society.
WESTERN ROUTE: WRITERS AT HOME IN NATURE
(35 persons) $60 (lunch included)
William Cullen Bryant House: home of the once-famed nineteenth-century author, editor, publisher, abolitionist, journalist, and conservationist. “From its iconic red barn to elegant allee of maples leading to the main house, this lovely property is testament to a celebrated poet’s ideal of living mindfully on the land.”
• Arrowhead: home of Herman Melville (1850-63), where he completed Moby Dick, generally considered to be the greatest American novel.
• The Mount: home of Edith Wharton (1902-11), “the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Yale University, and a full membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.” A connoisseur of building and landscape architecture, she also designed the spectacular mansion and gardens: “I am amazed at the success of my efforts. Decidedly, I’m a better landscape gardener than novelist, and this place, every line of which is my own work, far surpasses The House of Mirth… “
This excursion will end with “Jazz in the Garden” (café and cash bar available at participants’ own expense). Please note that this excursion will therefore probably return to Amherst later than others: around 9 p.m.
Local Book Culture & Book Arts
LOCAL AND REGIONAL BOOK ART STUDIOS
(11 persons) $60 (lunch included)
The upper Pioneer Valley is home to a wide array of book artists, fine printers, and others associated with the craft of bookmaking. This excursion will include a visit to a private area studio close to Amherst (to which multiple artists from the region would bring their work and meet conference attendees), and a tour of the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton and the multi-studio artists’ establishment at One Cottage Street, in Easthampton.
Given the numerous literary sites in the Commonwealth, we had to make both pragmatic and subjective choices. For example, we quite deliberately excluded the Boston/coastal area because it really constitutes a collective destination in its own right–and on the assumption that many SHARPists will plan to visit there before or after the conference.
Realizing that we cannot show everything and that everyone has different interests or tastes, we also hope to provide a general list of cultural sites that SHARPists may wish to explore on their own.