Richard Millington, a Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College, gave a talk entitled, “Leisure as ‘Idiom’ in Later 19th-Century American Literature.” After an initiative to encourage more faculty to use the Sophia Smith Archives, Millington began looking through the college’s collection to find out what middle class fiction readers were like in 19th Century America. There, Millington discovered one Smith alumna, Jane Addams, who took it upon herself to establish Hull House. With the goal of bettering the lives of lower class families, Hull House provided enrichment programs and educational courses for residents so that they could experience the leisure of high class society.
As a scholar of Nathaniel Hawthorne, most of Millington’s work has centered around the 19th century novel. Before teaching at Smith, Millington studied at Yale where he earned two masters degrees and a PhD. Beyond teaching several courses at Smith on Victorian novels and American fiction, he is the author of Practicing Romance: Narrative Form and Cultural Engagement in Hawthorne’s Fiction. He is also the co-editor of Hitchcock’s America, a collection of essays that includes his writing on the classic film North By Northwest. Recently, Millington was named the Helen and Laura Shedd Professor of English Language and Literature.
This talk was recorded on March 22, 2016 in Seelye Hall at Smith College.