Title

More Than a Muse: Mable Dodge 1905-1918

Submission Date

7-21-2016

Document Type

Paper

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Kara McShane

Comments

Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

“More than a Muse” begins to unravel the true intricacy of Mabel Dodge as a historical figure. The project as it exists is a portion of a greater overall goal of complicating and exploring the influence of one of the 20th century’s most influential women. The scope of the project is through the lens of Dodge’s influence in Greenwich Village portrayed in the platform of a digital humanities exhibit, made possible through the collaborative efforts of supportive Ursinus College faculty and artifact collections across the United States. The project refers to Mabel Ganson Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan as Mabel Dodge because during the span of time the project encompasses ‘Mabel Dodge’ is the name she had published under and would come to be known by. New York was chosen as the focus for this project because it provides a short window of time when the diversity and depth of her influence can be closely analyzed and somewhat encapsulated for the purposes of an eight-week research fellowship. Further research revealed how little of her impact could be showcased from just the years of 1905-1918. Dodge’s extensive writings on sexuality and psychoanalysis have only recently become available and reveal a whole other aspect of Dodge in the city that this project was unable to provide the space for analysis of. The topics are touched upon but not delved into. The project by no means even has begun to cover the depth of her influence in New York, let alone her life in Florence prior and work in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico after her departure from the city. “More than a Muse” is not all encompassing but fulfills its initial goal of displaying the complexity beneath the labels other historians have crammed Mabel Dodge into. Taking Dodge’s role in the development of and promotion of the radical “new” through the lens of her influence on the labor reform, art, and feminism movements brewing in Greenwich Village provides a glimpse of how and why Mabel Dodge is such an influential player in the formation of American culture in the 20th to the 21st century.

By using Omeka, the project takes on the challenge of changing how Dodge is defined in history by allowing the full complexity of Dodge’s connections to be explored by each individual user. The use of this platform and the creation of a digital project not only allow for continued expansion of material and analysis but also helps the project reach a wider audience and collaborate to understand the influence of a woman whose work was so far reaching. Dodge is not the kind of figure who we could write a thesis to properly summarize -- she is the kind of woman who we have to hunt down for ourselves. Her work is contradictory, effusive, and inspiring. Displaying and unpacking her primary documents and the documents and writings of her peers is the best way to approach such a figure so as to not under complicate or categorize her.