I write most often about American women writers, women’s roles, and intentional or “utopian” communities and food practices. Whether concerned with people of the past or present, such as Philadelphia food writer Eliza Leslie, the Federation of Damanhur in Italy’s Piedmont, New England Puritans or the celibate Shakers, my words on these topics push us to consider our own social situations.
My most recent publications discuss translator and poet Caroline Crane Marsh, who lived in Italy for twenty years as wife of US Minister Plenipotentiary (i.e. “ambassador”); Philadelphia news correspondent in Rome, Anne Hampton Brewster; utopian food practices, and American and Italian alternative communities. Marsh and Brewster are two of three women central to my current project on 19th-century Americans in Italy. Shorter profiles of them are available through blogs I wrote for the New York Public Library Research Fellows site and Anne Boyd Rioux’s “Bluestocking Bulletin” ( June 2019 & June-July 2017). These women each went abroad at mid-life, following what I refer to as their “later vocations.” These callings after their early years allowed them to continue to learn, grow and change.
As an author I draw from historical examples but underscore contemporary concerns. I bring forward ideas from the past–still pressing today–not only in my writing but also through lectures, group workshops, and educational trips. My last group trip (to sites associated with my writing about Italy), scheduled for June 2020, was postponed due to COVID-19.
Posts on this site and links to books, articles, and reviews provide a glimpse of these activities. Subscribe to my blog here or follow me on your preferred platform.