What is Literary Recovery?

Literary recovery is an effort that, among many things, seeks to fill the historical gaps in perspective left by previous generations. Lost literary works sit obscurely in church basements or institutional archives; they are tucked, forgotten or undiscovered in attics and personal collections. Faint voices patiently waiting to be heard, they are the arguments, views, and offerings of marginalized members of our society whose insight may be instrumental not only to the modern literary canon, but to our American identity overall.

In the search for literary works by American women writers of the 19th century, we have been exploring the process of recovery. As newcomers to this endeavor, some of us have come across literary pieces that are yet undiscovered, while others have taken interest in work that is newly uncovered and for which there is a national or international conversation already taking form. In either case, we have each focused our efforts on beginning or contributing to a dialogue concerning our selected works. The process promised no sure results: what was to be found could be a masterpiece of literary art or a less than exceptional expression of thought. However, what we certainly found from these few months of research and what we present in this exhibit are intriguing, thought-provoking pieces, each representing a view that was never granted the gift of posterity. We have been afforded this opportunity to bring forth voices that may have and may yet deserve recognition beyond the confines of basements, attics, and lost archives.