Call for Papers May 2020: Alcott and Adaptation

Please note that due to COVID-19, the American Literature Association Conference which was to be held in San Diego, CA May 21-24, 2020 has been cancelled.
American Literature Association Conference, San Diego, CA, May 21-24, 2020

For over a century, Louisa May Alcott’s writings have been adapted in many ways—for stage, radio, television, and film. As scholars such as Beverly Lyon Clark, Elizabeth Keyser, Elise Hooper, and others have documented, Alcott’s work remains timely and continues to inspire adaptations and spinoffs for diverse audiences. The best known, of course, are the numerous film adaptations of Little Women. Each new production of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel both represents and reinterprets the lives of the four March sisters for a new audience.

We invite proposals for a panel on film adaptations of Alcott’s works, including but not limited to Little Women. The many adaptations of Little Women include the 1933 RKO Pictures production directed by George Cukor and starring Katharine Hepburn, the 1949 MGM feature directed by Mervyn Leroy and starring June Allyson, the 1994 Columbia Pictures production directed by Gillian Armstrong and starring Winona Ryder, and the newest adaptation of Little Women, premiering in December 2019, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan. Other adaptations of Little Women include the 2018 Clare Niederpruem film and the BBC/Masterpiece miniseries as well as the transmedia series, The March Family Letters. Little Men and The Inheritance have also been adapted for the screen.

These are just several examples among the many artistic interpretations of Alcott’s works that could be discussed in papers exploring the ways film adaptations transform and reinvent Alcott’s stories and characters.

Potential topics may include:
  • gender equality and feminism(s)
  • representation and diversity
  • sexuality and class
  • textual fidelity and nostalgia
  • (a)politics of Alcott
  • labor and work
  • adaptive challenges of the text (for instance, casting different actors as Amy at different ages)
  • adaptations in conversation with each other

Please send 300-word abstracts by email to Sandra Harbert Petrulionis <> and Mark Gallagher <>. The deadline for proposals is Friday, January 17, 2020. Early submissions welcome.