Edith Wharton and Genre with Laura Rattray

August 27, 2020 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

This online program will be streamed live via Zoom. For all our online events, registration closes one hour prior to the event. 

If you are unable to locate your Zoom confirmation or have not yet registered, please follow this link below for today’s event. Please note you will be asked for your name and email.


Through her meticulously researched work, Laura Rattray gives us a bolder, more diverse, subversive and radical Edith Wharton than has long been supposed. Rattray will be joined in conversation by fellow Wharton scholar Emily Orlando, professor of English at Fairfield University.

Based on extensive new archival research, Laura’s new book Edith Wharton and Genre: Beyond Fiction offers the first study of Wharton’s full engagement with original writing in genres outside those with which she has been most closely identified. So much more than an acclaimed novelist and short story writer, Wharton is reconsidered in this book as a controversial playwright, a gifted poet, a trailblazing travel writer, an innovative and subversive critic, a hugely influential design writer, and an author who overturned the conventions of autobiographical form. Her versatility across genres did not represent brief sidesteps, temporary diversions from what has long been read as her primary role as novelist. Each was pursued fully and whole-heartedly, speaking to Wharton’s very sense of herself as an artist and her connected vision of artistry and art. The stories of these other Edith Whartons, born through her extraordinary dexterity across a wide range of genres, and their impact on our understanding of her career, are the focus of this new study, revealing a bolder, more diverse, subversive and radical writer than has long been supposed.


Laura Rattray is Reader in American Literature at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Her work on Wharton includes, as editor, Edith Wharton in Context (2012), The Unpublished Writings of Edith Wharton (2009), Summer (2015) and, with Jennifer Haytock, The New Edith Wharton Studies (2019).


Emily Orlando is Professor of English and the E. Gerald Corrigan Chair in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Fairfield University in Connecticut (USA).  She has published on 19th- and 20th-century literature and visual culture and especially Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde, Nella Larsen, and Elizabeth Siddall.  Orlando is the author of Edith Wharton and the Visual Arts (2007).  With Meredith Goldsmith, she edited Edith Wharton and Cosmopolitanism (2016).  Orlando is a Past President of the Edith Wharton Society.  She is currently editing The Bloomsbury Handbook to Edith Wharton.  Dr. Orlando curated the Edith Wharton installation for Chicago’s American Writers Museum, which focuses on The Age of Innocence.  In 2014, Orlando spoke at The Mount on the occasion of Edith Wharton’s birthday.

The Mount is a Massachusetts Cultural Council UP designated organization welcoming participants of all disabilities. Please contact The Mount at 413-551-5100 or by email, info@edithwharton.org, to discuss accommodations needed to participate fully in this event.