Wharton’s posthumously published novel, The Buccaneers, captures the early years of the transatlantic marriage phenomenon when American women took London society by storm. They dazzled British aristocrats with their wit, charm, and irreverence for formality, and constituted a beachhead for greater numbers of marital liaisons between American women and British peers and their younger sons. Set in the same era as The Age of Innocence, The Buccaneers deals with two metropolises on either side of the Atlantic experiencing volatile social change and uses marriage as a lens through which to explore points of friction in gender and class relationships as well as in social and political values. Its comedic moments scarcely hide Wharton’s sharp criticism of elite marriages as “gilded prostitution”.
Maureen Montgomery will examine Wharton’s final novel in light of her own socio-historical analysis of titled marriages in the period 1870-1914 and the controversies they stirred.
Maureen Montgomery is the inaugural holder of the McGinty Distinguished Chair in History at Salve Regina University, Newport, Rhode Island. She has taught History and American Studies at universities in England, New Zealand, and the United States and is a member of the Edith Wharton Society. She has published several essays on Edith Wharton and is the author of Displaying Women: Spectacles of Leisure in Edith Wharton’s New York (Routledge, 1998) and “Gilded Prostitution”: Status, Money, and Transatlantic Marriages, 1870-1914 (Routledge, 1989), reissued in paperback in April 2014.
On February 28, Speak Up returns to The Mount with a special salon show about life’s biggest moments. This more intimate storytelling experience will feature four storytellers telling humorous and heartfelt stories about the road to happily ever after. The intimacy of Mrs. Wharton’s salon will bring the audience much closer to the storytellers, their stories, and their craft.
Attendees should come ready to participate and put the professionals to the test. The audience will be able to press the performers for more details after each set – What did the teller leave out? And what happened next? The four storytellers will also each generate a story on the spot taken from audience prompts. It’s live action storytelling without a net!
Matthew Dicks (host, producer, storyteller) is the author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing and Unexpectedly, Milo, and the upcoming The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide, and his most recent is an international bestseller. He is also the author of the rock opera The Clowns and the musical Caught in the Middle. He is a columnist for Seasons magazine and has published work in The Hartford Courant, The Huffington Post and The Christian Science Monitor. When not hunched over a computer screen, he fills his days as an elementary school teacher, a storyteller, a blogger, a wedding DJ, a minister, a life coach and a Lord of Sealand. He is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.
Matthew is a 15-time Moth StorySLAM champion and GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. He has also told stories for The American Life, TED, The Story Collider, The Liar Show, Literary Death Match, The Mouth and others. He is the co-founder and producer of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization.
Matthew is married to friend and fellow teacher, Elysha, and they have two children, Clara and Charlie. He grew up in the small town of Blackstone, Massachusetts, where he made a name for himself by dying twice before the age of eighteen and becoming the first student in his high school to be suspended for inciting riot upon himself.
Lynelle Abel is a blue collar girl at heart and finds that her best stories come from her small town roots. She credits her keen interest in storytelling to her mother and her seven brothers and sisters. They are the consummate storytellers and have shaped Lynelle’s life in indescribable ways through their stories of resilience and humor in the face of incredible hardships.
Lynelle is proud of her not so picture perfect childhood – and while she and her husband went through great lengths to provide a more wholesome life for their two sons – she secretly hopes they are creating their own life stories filled with interesting people, happenings and experiences they’ve had along their journey through life.
Lynn Katz is a recently retired public school educator and former attorney. She has worked in a total of nine schools in a professional capacity, including Farmington, West Hartford, and Plainville, CT. Unlike her professional-wanderlust tendencies, Lynn has been married to the same man for 34 years. She met her husband Bob while they were both working at a summer camp for children with learning challenges. They have a daughter, a son, and a daughter-in-law. All are attorneys. Lynn enjoys travel, dancing, and reading. She won her first and only beauty contest, Miss Central Park, in Schenectady, NY in 1956.
Chris Kriesen was conceived in Connecticut but born in Philadelphia. He grew up in a small upstate NY farm town, and moved back to CT in his early twenties. He spent his boyhood summers at a seven-week boy’s camp in NH and has climbed almost every mountain in that state. He lived in Europe after college (in London he lived in a pub; in Paris he lived in a famous bookstore, Shakespeare & Company, for six weeks). He got a law degree from The University of Connecticut and a Master’s degree from Trinity.
He is a teacher of English as a second language at Literacy Volunteers of Hartford. He is a student at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, NY, where he once spent an entire week meditating each day, dawn to dusk, and attained enlightenment on the fifth day, for five minutes. He has never won at cards but has been lucky in love, several times. He can read ten books at the same time, but can never finish any one of them. He has never been attacked by a shark, but is certain he will be. And he will survive.