CFP: Louisa May Alcott Society at ALA (1.20.16)

Louisa May Alcott Society
Call for Papers for two panels at the annual conference of the American Literature Association
26-29 May 2016, San Francisco

Panel 1: Representations of Teaching and Learning in Alcott

As attested to by her essay, “Recollections of my Childhood,” Alcott’s ideas of education were always caught between the innovative techniques but formal structure of “my father’s school” and the more liberal approach of “my wise mother” who “let me run wild, learning of nature what no books can teach.” This panel seeks to examine education in all its guises as constructed through Alcott’s works, whether that education takes place in the schoolroom or in the wider world, via a teacher or through the lessons of nature or religion, and encompassing both children and adults in the lifelong process of learning that characterizes many of Alcott’s texts.

Possible topics might include:

Books within books: influential texts within Alcott’s works
The gender divide
Home schooling
A religious education
The class divide
“Learning of nature what no books can teach”
A Transcendental education
Bronson Alcott’s conversations with children
Pupil and teacher
Keeping journals: an educational tool
What is a teacher?
“Moral pap for the young”
A European education: learning through travel
The school-room
Marriage: a sentimental education
“My beloved Master”: learning from Emerson

Please send 250-word abstracts to Krissie West at by 20 January 2016

Panel 2: Alcott for Grown-ups

While Louisa May Alcott notoriously complained about her role as a chief provider of “moral pap for the young,” after the widespread success of Little Women, her identity as “the children’s friend” was firmly sealed. Turning away from this unilateral understanding of Alcott and her work, this panel seeks to examine the ways Alcott’s identity and body of work engages with or problematizes grown-up-ness. We welcome papers that analyze Alcott’s writing for adults as well as those that complicate the study of Alcott’s work as children’s literature within the development of American Realism.

Possible topics might include:

Alcott’s fiction and nonfiction for adults
Negotiation of audience
Alcott and American Realism
Alcott’s relationships to her peer authors (writing for children or adults)
Depictions of grown-up questions/issues
Sex and sexuality
Drug and alcohol use
Marriage, fidelity, and infidelity
Crime and the law
Alcott and political economy
Identity formation
Sensational and anti-sensational literature
Representations of childhood and/or adulthood
Reading children’s literature as adult literature
Age and aging
Constructions of “adult,” “child,” “woman,” “girl,” etc.

Please send 250-word abstracts to Marlowe Daly-Galeano at by 20 January 2016.