Lichen Tufts, from the Alleghanies
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In her 1860 book Lichen Tufts, from the Alleghanies, Elizabeth C. Wright weaves together environmental philosophy, lyrical nature writing, and social consciousness. A graduate of Alfred University, Wright was an activist for women's rights, temperance, and the abolition of slavery. She was a teacher, a botanist, and, later in life, a Kansas homesteader. In Lichen Tufts, Wright urged her readers to cultivate an intimate knowledge of the natural world, reflecting her Transcendentalist belief that an immersive relationship with nature benefits the individual as well as society as a whole. Composed of four essays and forty poems, Lichen Tufts reveals wisdom and beauty in an early example of eco-feminism that highlights the natural world as antidote to society's restrictive gender codes, one that is still relevant today.

SUNY Press brings Lichen Tufts, from the Alleghanies to life for modern audiences, with a recovery edition featuring the 1860 book in its entirety. An Introduction by Emily E. VanDette places the book and its author in the context of nineteenth-century social reform campaigns throughout the "Burned Over District" of western New York. An Afterword written by Laurie Lounsberry Meehan highlights the history of Alfred University and the cohort that influenced Wright's environmental and social reform activism.
New Introduction
Emily E. VanDette

Into the Woods,

The Nature Cure—for the Body,

The Nature Cure—for the Mind,

The Perfection of the Natural,

A Pilgrim Pagan,

A Dream Anthem,

The Lost Lake,

"Love in a Cottage,"

The Dual Spirit,

A Word to the Weary,

By the Mississippi,


Make not Poyerty's Cup too Bitter,


Summer Friendship,

By the Sea-Side,

I'll Tell You, Coz!,




Beautiful Life,

Phantom Building,


The Picture on the Wall,

One April Eye,

By a Lake Side,

The Death Watch,

Our Own Old Woods,

Snow Song,


Star-Beams in Shadow Land,



Sheaves of Time's Harvest,

A Voice from Afar,

Anniversary Letter,

Anniversary Letter,

Modern Fairies,


Vigil Lessons,

Life's Nooning Song,

The Moon of Blossoms in Prairie Land,

A Reverie,

Alter Ego,

Laurie Lounsberry Meehan



Publié par
Date de parution 01 juillet 2022
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781438489223
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1398€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


With a New Introduction by Emily E. VanDette Afterword by Laurie Lounsberry Meehan
Published by State University of New York Press, Albany
© 2022 State University of New York
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
Excelsior Editions is an imprint of State University of New York Press
For information, contact State University of New York Press, Albany, NY
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Wright, Elizabeth C., author
With a new introduction by Emily E. VanDette
Title: Lichen tufts, from the Alleghanies
Description: Albany : State University of New York Press, [2022] | Series: New York Classics | Excelsior Editions
Identifiers: ISBN 9781438489216 (hardcover : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781438489223 (e-book) | ISBN 9781438489209 (paperback)
Further information is available at the Library of Congress.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Somebody says that ”A Cathedral would hardly hold my acquaintances-the pulpit would accommodate my friends.” ‘Ellis volume, with my compliments, is addressed to the Cathedral full-to the few in the pulpit it is dedicated with the love of

New Introduction
Emily E. VanDette
Into the Woods
The Nature Cure—for the Body
The Nature Cure—for the Mind
The Perfection of the Natural
A Pilgrim Pagan
A Dream Anthem
The Lost Lake
“Love in a Cottage”
The Dual Spirit
A Word to the Weary
By the Mississippi
Make not Poyerty’s Cup too Bitter
Summer Friendship
By the Sea-Side
I’ll Tell You, Coz!
Beautiful Life
Phantom Building
The Picture on the Wall
One April Eye
By a Lake Side
The Death Watch
Our Own Old Woods
Snow Song
Star-Beams in Shadow Land
Sheaves of Time’s Harvest
A Voice from Afar
Anniversary Letter
Anniversary Letter
Modern Fairies
Vigil Lessons
Life’s Nooning Song
The Moon of Blossoms in Prairie Land
A Reverie
Alter Ego
Laurie Lounsberry Meehan
Emily E. VanDette

Part environmental manifesto, part poetry collection, part Walden -inspired ode to the Allegheny wilderness, the 1860 book Lichen Tufts, from the Alleghanies defies easy classification. The same can be said for its author. In some ways, Elizabeth C. Wright was a woman ahead of her time: a professional scientist, teacher, lecturer, and activist for gender and racial equality and social justice; an independent and intellectual woman who did not follow the expected path for a woman to marry young, raise a family, and devote herself to a domestic life. In other ways, Wright’s life and writing reflect the circumstances and environments of her upbringing, education, and political and social networks in western New York and beyond. She was indeed the perfect candidate to author the first known book-length treatise on nature written by a US woman. Wright’s world was one of incredible social turmoil and change, spiritual and cultural awakenings, and a new sense of urgency around the intertwining issues of environmental and social consciousness. The beauty and wisdom contained in Lichen Tufts , and the remarkable life story of its author, are more relevant today than ever.
Lichen Tufts consists of four essays about nature followed by forty eclectic poems. The first essay, “Into the Woods,” documents a camping trip in the vicinity of the present-day Allegany State Park and Seneca Nation territory, which the author took with a group of friends and mentors from her recent alma mater, Alfred University. The group of like-minded adventurers and nature lovers included a radically progressive young faculty couple, Jonathan and Abigail Allen, and three recent students and graduates (the cohort is discussed in detail in the afterword, written by Alfred University archivist Laurie Lounsberry Meehan). Taken on its own, “Into the Woods” narrates an exciting and remarkably modern-sounding adventure shared by a group of energetic, idealistic, and progressive young men and women. As the opening essay of Lichen Tufts , it also serves as a practical, real-life basis for the philosophical discussions throughout the rest of the book. Not surprisingly, the idea of women camping out in the wilderness was met with resistance, but throughout the essays of Lichen Tufts , Wright develops a feminist response to the restrictions placed on women’s physical and intellectual lives. Wright rejoices in the collective feeling of liberation experienced by her camping party: “It was utterly delightful to let ourselves loose, and live freely; to have no rules for coming in or going out, for rising up or sitting down; to be emancipated from the bondage of the ceremonial law, and do what pleased us best, was paradisiacal enough.” 1 Drawing upon her education in natural science and philosophy, a rare background for a woman of her day, Wright expresses a transcendentalist appreciation for the natural world. “Into the Woods” highlights the ways in which her camping party broke free from gender roles and other social conventions, with the men in her party cooking meals and the women trading their conventional attire for practical hiking clothes and learning how to shoot a gun.
While clearly aligned with the transcendentalist movement, Wright’s passion for the natural world and social justice can be traced back to her roots in a tightly knit, multigenerational Quaker family that lived on the border of New York and Pennsylvania. 2 Wright’s grandparents, Robert and Elizabeth Clendenon, were missionaries at the Quaker-run Tunesassa school for the Seneca Nation in Cattaraugus County, New York. The Clendenons’ daughters and their spouses stayed close to home, raising their families in a closely knit extended family. Abigail Clendenon and Asahel Wright, Elizabeth Wright’s parents, were married in the Ceres, Pennsylvania, home of Abigail’s sister Hannah and her husband John King on August 10, 1825. While the family lived too far from the nearest Quaker meetings to participate actively in their faith (and Abigail married a non-Quaker), they nevertheless continued to abide by Quaker values. Elizabeth Clendenon Wright was born in December 1826 in Ceres, and she and her sisters, Lydia Ellen and Sarah Ann, grew up in close proximity to their maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The multigenerational family nurtured women’s education and voice, religious faith, an appreciation for the natural world, and a passionate dedication to social justice and peace. For all of their otherwise progressive values and practices, the Clendenons’ work as missionaries with the people of the Seneca Nation reflects an assimilation agenda connected to historical patterns of dominance and erasure of Native American communities and culture. While boarding schools like Tunesassa may have been intended initially as a benevolent means of helping Native American communities adapt to Euro-American culture, they became a main tool in the US government’s forced assimilation program in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The autobiographical work “The School Days of an Indian Girl,” written in 1900 by Zitkala-Sa (Lakota Sioux), provides a compelling firsthand account of the author’s traumatic boarding school experience. The legacy of her grandparents’ missionary mindset manifests in Wright’s writing about her encounters with Seneca people in “Into the Woods,” especially in her approving commentary about the “advantages of true civilization” for the Senecas. Even while advocating for and aiding oppressed people, activists and missionaries often contributed to the normalization of ideas responsible for generations of trauma and cultural loss.
The destructive effects of their assimilationist missionary work notwithstanding, the Quakers were among the most radical activists in the campaign to end slavery. Wright’s immediate and extended family played an active role in the antislavery cause, and they lived their day-to-day lives in accordance with their beliefs. They participated in the free-produce movement, tapping maple trees and boycotting sugar and other goods produced by slave labor, and they provided shelter and aid to fugitives from slavery. The home of Elizabeth Wright’s maternal aunt and uncle Hannah and John King, where Wright and her sisters surely spent a lot of time during their childhood, was a key “station” in the Underground Railroad. The children of the Wrights and Kings were clearly impacted by their upbringing in an environment of radical, fearless antislavery activism. The daughter of the Kings, Mary, married a like-minded abolitionist, John S. Mann, and the couple established Underground Railroad stations in their home and in Mary’s bookstore in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth and her sister Lydia Ellen (often referred to as “Ellen” by family and friends) were close to their cousin Mary King Mann throughout their entire lives, and Ellen even lived with the Manns in their Coudersport home for several years. Carrying on with the activism modeled by their parents, the women worked together on multiple areas of social reform and public service. They contributed tirelessly to the temperance campaign, founded a public library, worked for educational reform, and, of course, contributed to efforts to abolish slavery. In addition to reinforcing Wright’s interests in education and social justice, this collaborative family ne

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