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Louisa May Alcott in her mid-twenties, 1858. Photo courtesy of Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House / L. M. A. Memorial Association

Louisa May Alcott midtwenties

Marquette University Libraries in collaboration with Milwaukee Public Library announce a five-event series on "Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women." English Department scholars Angela Sorby and Sarah Wadsworth will present lectures, lead book discussions, and screen documentary and feature films. The library programs are sponsored by the American Library Association with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Link to complete details for each event

1."Louisa May Alcott: Through Her Eyes"
September 19 (Monday), 4:30 p.m., Raynor Library Conference Center

This community-wide library event hosted by Marquette will serve to launch the series by introducing brief dramatic readings from several lesser-known Alcott works. The engaging mix of performers, speakers, and audiovisuals will be followed by a reception, refreshments, and a drawing for Alcott books.

2. "Louisa May Alcott Wrote That? Alcott and the Civil War"
October 6 (Thursday), 4:30 p.m., Raynor Library Conference Center

Dr. Angela Sorby (Associate Professor of English, Marquette University) will present a lecture about Alcott’s role in the Civil War and lead a discussion of Hospital Sketches and short fiction with abolitionist themes.

3. "Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women" documentary film screening (first half) Oct. 25 (Tuesday), 6:30 – 7:45 p.m., Milwaukee Public Library, Krug Rare Book Room
This event will feature a viewing of the first half of the American Masters 2008 documentary film, plus selected scenes from the 1994 film, Little Women, followed by a discussion led by professors Angela Sorby and Sarah Wadsworth (English Department, Marquette University). This event will take place in the reception area adjacent to the Krug Rare Book Room, where an exhibit of books related to Alcott will be displayed.

4. "Louisa May Alcott: Literary Phenomenon and Social Reformer"
November 10 (Thursday), 4:30 p.m., Raynor Library Conference Center

Dr. Sarah Wadsworth (Associate Professor of English, Marquette University) will present a lecture on Alcott’s complex and varied role in the literary marketplace as a self-trained and successful professional writer. With reference to a range of genres and texts, including Transcendental Wild Oats, Moods, Work, and Behind a Mask, the lecture and discussion will explore how Alcott negotiated the line between “popular” and “literary” and how her texts advocated a range of progressive reforms while addressing a mainstream audience interested chiefly in entertainment.

5."Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women" film screening and discussion of the 2009 biography by Harriet Reisen
November 29 (Tuesday), 6:30 p.m., Milwaukee Public Library, Betty Brinn Children’s Room Herzfeld Activity Center
This event will begin with a screening of the second half of the documentary Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women and wrap up the entire programming series with a discussion of the Reisen biography led by Drs. Angela Sorby and Sarah Wadsworth. This event coincides with Alcott’s birthday (1832), which will be celebrated with a birthday cake. An informal exhibit of Alcott’s juvenile fiction will be on display in the adjacent Children’s Room.

Exhibits: In addition to the five programs, there are exhibits in the Milwaukee Public Central Library and the John P. Raynor, S. J., Library lobby. MPL's exhibits, located in the Krug Rare Book Room, Periodicals, and Humanities Rooms, feature Alcott works from the rarities collection, historical printed matter highlighting Alcott's relationships with Concord Transcendentalists; nineteenth-century popular fiction; and connections to reforms Alcott advocated, such as abolition, education, and women's health. The companion book exhibit in Raynor Library's lobby, through September 20, features books by and about Louisa May Alcott and showcases relevant aspects of nineteenth-century American print culture, such as St. Nicholas magazine, as well as contemporary interpretations of Alcott's works.

Book club kit: To encourage community participation, the sponsors have created a book club kit, available for checkout at the Milwaukee Public Library. The kit contains 10 paperback copies of Harriet Reisen's 2009 biography, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, an overview of Alcott resources, and a reading group guide with discussion questions. See the CountyCat record here and more about the book club kits here.

Resource guide: Raynor Memorial Libraries has posted an online resource guide with handy lists of library and digital books by Alcott, as well as books and websites about the author, her period, and her contemporaries. Find the resource guide here.

All events in this series are free and open to all members of the Marquette and Milwaukee communities. For events held in Raynor Library (#1, 2, & 4 above), guests without Marquette IDs are advised to arrive in time to register at a table in the Raynor lobby for entrance to the library. Two parking structures (Wells Street between 12th and 13th; and 16th St. between Wisconsin and Wells) are open to visitors for a fee; a campus map and driving directions to campus are here. Questions about any of the events may be addressed to Susan Hopwood, Outreach Librarian, by e-mail or phone (414) 288-5995.


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