Laura Ingalls Wilder: Critical Perspectives
Since 1932, when Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first novel, Little House in the Big Woods, Americans have been fascinated by Wilder’s representation of the American frontier and pioneer life. That fascination has been renewed with the 2014 publication of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. Edited by Pamela Smith Hill and published by the South Dakota Historical Society, Pioneer Girl offers readers a view into Wilder’s life and her writing process. Hill’s introduction and extensive annotations, intended at least in part for an academic audience, allow readers to see Wilder, her life, and her career in context.
Despite Hill’s framing of Wilder’s life and Little House series as worthy of academic study, Wilder has largely been ignored by academics. In fact, the MLA Bibliography cites only 79 sources on Wilder published between 1971 and 2015; this number amounts to less than 2 academic sources published on Wilder per year in a 44-year time frame. The lack of academic attention contrasts greatly with the ongoing popular enthusiasm directed toward all things Wilder. Indeed, her books have inspired numerous plays, a long-running television series, television movies, and a musical; her books have been adapted so many times that many have referred to the “Little House Industry,” which began in 1932. Every year, hordes of fans make the pilgrimage to one or more of the “Little House” sites depicted in Wilder’s series and biographies.
In this proposed collection, the editors seek essays that critically engage with Wilder’s works, including the Little House series and Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography. We are interested in essays that consider Wilder’s relationship with the academy as well as her enduring place in American popular culture. We are especially interested in essays that consider Wilder’s place in the classroom, at the elementary level and also in university curricula. Essays might address the following topics, although the editors would consider other proposals as well:
- Wilder’s collaborations with her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane
- Literary influences on Wilder and Lane
- Wilder’s place (or lack thereof) in the American Literary Canon
- Wilder in the classroom
- Using Wilder’s works to teach creative nonfiction
- Wilder in context with other American Women Writers
- Wilder’s representation of Native Americans
- Issues of race, class, and gender in Wilder’s books
Space and place in Wilder’s books
- Wilder’s legacy
Please submit abstracts of 300-500 words, along with a short CV, to Miranda Green-Barteet (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Anne Phillips (email@example.com) by April 15, 2016. Accepted essays will be due no later than September 1, 2016.