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Meg McGavran Murray

Associate Professor Emerita, English

E-mail address: meg.mcgavran.murray@gmail.com

Meg McGavran Murray joined the MSU faculty in 1976. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, where she was a student of Romantics scholar Meyer Abrams and American Intellectual Historian Cushing Strout. At Mississippi State she taught primarily in the area of the American Romantics. During her tenure at MSU she served as the first chairperson of Women's Studies and was instrumental in setting up the Women's Studies Program. At MSU she also served as President of the Northeast Mississippi Graduate Association of Phi Beta Kappa, as President of the Mississippi State chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and as Director of the Women's Studies Program. She has published in American Literature and elsewhere. Sponsored by a Mellon Grant, she was a Radcliffe Research Scholar during the academic year 1981-82, and in 1983 she was editor of Face to Face: Fathers, Mothers, Masters, Monsters--Essays for a Nonsexist Future, a volume with a foreword by Florence Howe and essays by herself and noted authors such as Christopher Lasch, Jessie Bernard, Jean Baker Miller, and Dorothy Dinnerstein. Her book, Margaret Fuller, Wandering Pilgrim, a biography of the controversial writer of the United States' first feminist manifesto, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2008. Recently retired, she is working on a biography of New Deal pioneer Clara Mortenson Beyer, who was Associate Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards during FDR's administration. Murray's daughter, Allie Murray Sargent (Harvard '04), is writing a Ph.D. dissertation at Yale in the Departments of Cultural Anthropology and American Studies on narrative and loss among older homeless women.

Margaret Fuller, Wandering Pilgrim

Murray, Meg McGavran
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
ISBN: 0820328944

A new biography tracing the "strange, dark, thorny paths" taken by America's first full-fledged woman intellectual.

"How is it that I seem to be this Margaret Fuller," the pioneering feminist, journalist, and political revolutionary asked herself as a child. "What does it mean?" Filled with new insights into the causes and consequences of Fuller's lifelong psychic conflict, this biography chronicles the journey of an American Romantic pilgrim as she wanders from New England into the larger world-and then back home under circumstances that Fuller herself likened to those of both the prodigal child of the Bible and Oedipus of Greek mythology.

Meg McGavran Murray discusses Fuller's Puritan ancestry, her life as the precocious child of a preoccupied, grieving mother and of a tyrannical father who took over her upbringing, her escape from her loveless home into books, and the unorthodox-and influential-male and female role models to which her reading exposed her. Murray also covers Fuller's authorship of Woman in the Nineteenth Century, her career as a New-York Tribune journalist first in New York and later in Rome, her pregnancy out of wedlock, her witness of the fall of Rome in 1849 during the Roman Revolution, and her return to the land of her birth, where she knew she would be received as an outcast.

Other biographies call Fuller a Romantic. Margaret Fuller, Wandering Pilgrim illustrates how Fuller internalized the lives of the heroes and heroines in the ancient and modern Romantic literature that she had read as a child and adolescent, as well as how she used her Romantic imagination to broaden women's roles in Woman in the Nineteenth Century, even as she wandered the earth in search of a home.

Face to Face: Fathers, Mothers, Masters, and Monsters - Essays for a Nonsexist Future

Murray, Meg McGavran
Publisher: GreenWood Press
ISBN: 0313230447

In Face to Face: Fathers, Mothers, Masters, Monsters, distinguished figures from intellectual, professional, and political life explore the origins of our fears and their continuing manifestations within our culture. On one level, the essays will work toward finding positive ways to neutralize men's anger as women assert themselves more openly, thereby threatening male power. On another level, our purpose is to suggest a vision of a better society which, while perserving the essential individual liberties, will also emphasize the mutual well-being and sharing of men and women within a non sexist and democratic community. We must confront the mythical Father in our culture as he lives on in people's minds and as he is yearned for in their hearts, this all-powerful, fearful Father who is so often divorced now from any religious context. The search for a leader who will seem to embody the omnipotence and omniscience of this mythical Father figure can menace the highest ideals of a democratic society--as can out culture's tendacy, as both Lasch and Shillingsburg have observed, to provide "a new 'father' at every fresh turn." The call for an omnipotent, paternal presence, as manifest in the cult of Lenin in the Soviet Union and in the devotion of the Iranian people to the Ayatollah Khomeini, can become a kind of idolatry. In our own culture the transference of this power onto the false fathers of a professional and managerial elite threatens to undermine our basic sense of self dignity. Power such as this, as Lasch observes, when transferred onto inappropriate others (whether they be the paternalistic elite of our society or as happened in Nazi Germany, the "older brother," Adolf Hitler) needs make no appeal "to objective standards of right and wrong." Power in contexts such as these "no longer needs any justification beyond the fact of its exercise."