American Literature Association 26th Annual Conference Boston May 21-24, 2015
Louisa May Alcott’s status as a quintessentially American writer notwithstanding, literature and life on the other side of “the pond” interested her immensely. Her favorite writers included Dickens, Bronte, Goethe, Schiller, de Stael; admiration for their work surely added fuel to her own “burning” genius. New Englander though she was, she took not one but two European tours, producing sketches as well as fiction in response to the experiences.
Even in the most American of her novels, Little Women, several chapters take place in Europe, where Amy and Laurie visit many places Louisa experienced on her first European tour in 1865-66.
- What does Alcott’s writing show about her reading of Europe and European writers? In what ways does she embrace them? Reject them? Re-shape them to her particular artistic temperament and to the American experience?
- How does she make use of the personal experiences garnered in her travels in Europe, in her non-fiction sketches such as Shawl Straps, and in her fiction (The Inheritance, A Long Fatal Love Chase, the thrillers generally) as well?
- How might themes in her work be considered to be in dialogue with English and European writers, or with other American writers (Hawthorne, Twain, James) who were looking transatlantically themselves?
One hundred fifty years after Louisa May Alcott (like Amy) first “sailed away to find the old world,” can we consider her Americanness in a broader, more international context?
Send one-page abstracts (approx 300 words) by January 19, 2015, to Christine Doyle (email@example.com).
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