Thursday, June 7, 2018

Welcome to the Louisa May Alcott Society!

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For information about the Society, please contact President Anne Phillips at annek@ksu.edu.

Please join us for a round table at the upcoming triennial conference of the Society for the Study of American Women Authors, held at the Westin Hotel in downtown Denver, CO, November 7-11, 2018. 

And scroll down below to our Calls for Proposals for two sessions at next year's conference of the American Literature Association!


"REFORMS OF ALL KINDS": 
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT AND THE PUBLIC HUMANITIES ROUNDTABLE

Co-Chairs: Sandra Harbert Petrulionis and Daniel Shealy

Marlowe Daly-Galeano, “Artistic Attempts" and “Literary Lessons”: A Class Project in Community Engagement and Service Learning

Randi Lynn Tanglen, “Hope and Keep Busy”: The Role of the Public Intellectual in Daunting Political Times

Anne K. Phillips, “Conversations: University and Community Celebrations of #LittleWomen150”

Melissa McFarland Pennell, “From Discovery/Recovery to Public Humanities: Bringing the Work of American Women Writers into Community Consciousness”

Mark Gallagher, “An Exhibit Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women

Ariel Silver, "From Old-Fashioned Girl to Pioneer Women"



The Alcott Society is sponsoring two sessions at the 2019 American Literature Association conference in Boston (https://americanliteratureassociation.org/ala-conferences/ala-annual-conference/):


CFP: Joint Panel of the Lydia Maria Child + Louisa May Alcott Societies
"Notorious Women, Sensational Texts:  The Lives, Writings, and Reforms of Louisa May Alcott and Lydia Maria Child"  

       Organized jointly by the Lydia Maria Child and Louisa May Alcott Societies, this session will examine the lives, writings, and reforms of two enormously popular and prolific nineteenth-century women writers.  

Child founded the nation's first children’s magazine, The Juvenile Miscellany, which she edited from 1826 – 1834, a generation ahead of Alcott’s bestselling books for young people.  Child’s conduct manuals, such as The Frugal Housewife, enjoyed wide attention as well.  Championing disenfranchised peoples, however, triggered critical backlash.  At the age of twenty-two, Child portrayed a marriage between a white woman and a Native American man in her first novel, Hobomok (1824), an audacious choice that reviewers largely disparaged (the book’s poor sales left her deeply in debt).  Yet her career suffered its most devastating setback after she published An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans (1833), the first complete history of slavery by an American writer.  Here Child calls for the immediate emancipation of US slaves, a radical stance that she shared with infamous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.  Although Child wrote and edited until she died, her career never recovered from public reaction to her political views.  Undeterred, she tirelessly advocated social reforms in writings such as Letters from New York(beginning in 1841) and A Romance of the Republic (1867). 
     Writing a generation later, Louisa May Alcott divided her authorial time between books for children, which paid handsomely, and the lurid, anonymously authored fiction that she preferred. In these sensational stories and novels, Alcott (writing as A. M. Barnard) spun tales like Beneath the Mask and "Pauline's Passion and Punishment," in which notorious women take revenge on the men who have wronged them and often claim control over their own lives. Like Child, Alcott was an outspoken advocate for antislavery and women’s rights, with poems, essays, and fiction depicting unsung social reformers as the nation’s true heroes. Similar to Child’s controversial marriage in Hobomok, in Moods, Alcott also deliberately challenges notions of the conventional marriage plot. 

We seek abstracts that consider literary, historical, and biographical connections across the lives and literary outputs of Child and Alcott. What kind of role model did Alcott find in fellow Bostonian Lydia Maria Child? Is Alcott's choice to mask the women in her sensational fiction a deliberate effort to avoid Child's fate at the hands of readers and critics? Given that both Child and Alcott edited children’s magazines and wrote specifically for child and adult audiences, how might we compare their stated approaches to or philosophies about writing for children versus adults? In which literary texts do Alcott and Child's cross-generational reform-mindedness seem to play a similar role? What differences emerge from an analysis of Alcott and Child's reformist views on topics such as white supremacy, native peoples, American slavery, immigration, women’s physical fitness, and women's rights?

Send abstracts of 250-300 words by January 20, 2019, to Sandy Burr at sburr@nmu.edu; and to Sandy Petrulionis at shp2@psu.edu.

*****

CFP: Adventures in Alcott Scholarship at the Concord Free Public Library
Organized by the Louisa May Alcott Society

Over decades, William Munroe Special Collections Curator Leslie Perrin Wilson and her predecessors and colleagues at the Concord Free Public Library have amassed a distinguished collection of materials by and about the Alcotts. Among those archival holdings are literary manuscripts, personal papers, microfilmed diaries and letters, newspaper clippings, reprints, and research papers by or about Louisa May Alcott and Amos Bronson Alcott, as well as Abigail May “Abba” Alcott and Abby May Alcott Nieriker (“Alcott Holdings in the Special Collections,” CFPL,https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/collections/alcott ). The collection includes manuscript pages for two chapters of Little Women and two chapters of Little Men, copies of the first edition of Little Women (featuring May Alcott’s original illustrations), portions of the manuscript pages for Eight Cousins and Under the Lilacs, Alcott’s handwritten comments on Frank Merrill’s pen and ink drawings for the 1880 Roberts Brothers edition of Little Women, and other rare and wonderful materials—making the Concord Free Public Library an essential and one-of-a-kind research facility. 
Building on Wilson’s informative presentation about the Alcott archives at the 2017 Alcott Society business meeting, and the Society’s subsequent commitment to encourage scholars to visit and study this unique collection, “Adventures in Alcott Scholarship at the Concord Free Public Library” will feature presentations from scholars who have recently conducted research in the CFPL’s Alcott holdings.

Send abstracts of 250-300 words by January 20, 2019, to Anne Phillips at annek@ksu.edu.


Photos from our panels at the 2018 ALA conference in San Francisco

L to R: Melissa McFarland Pennell, Anne K. Phillips, Christine Doyle, Gregory Eiselein

L to R: Elise Hooper, Marlowe Daly-Galeano, Daniel Shealy, Krissie West, Sarah Wadsworth



Photos from our panels at the 2017 ALA conference in Boston



left to right: Sandy Petrulionis, Anne Phillips, Mark Gallagher, Tracey Cummings

 left to right: Mischa Renfroe, Katie Waddell, Arielle Zibrak, Jane Rose, Melissa Pennell, Sarah Grey

left to right: society members pose after the annual business meeting


Below are photos of society members and guests in May 2015, celebrating our tenth anniversary as an author society!

Our host for this event was none other than Louisa May herself, who graciously welcomed us to her home and lawn at Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts!













Free books! Donated by our members, Miriam Reed and Mary De Jong