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Year in Review: 2014

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage

This past year has been a busy one: in May, University of Toronto Press published The L.M. Montgomery Reader, volume 2: A Critical Heritage, which promises to be “the first book to consider the posthumous life of one of Canada’s most enduringly popular authors,” according to the dust jacket, and we had a launch for the book at the annual conference of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, which this year met at Brock University in St. Catharines.

June 25 was a particularly important day for this website: on the first day of L.M. Montgomery and War, the eleventh biennial conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island (an event I co-chaired with Andrea McKenzie), I launched the new iteration of this website, an expanded version of the L.M. Montgomery Research Group website that appeared in 2007.

Calls for Papers

The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature (special journal issue)

Edited by Caroline E. Jones

Critical, reflective, inquiring, and entertaining articles are welcomed for all sections for a special issue on the life and work of L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. Recent and ongoing scholarship speaks to myriad topics in this complex author’s body of work: war, class, national identity, child-life, girl-life, nature, animals, and much, much more. This issue will undertake a broad exploration of the contemporary cultural, scholarly, and personal relevance of Montgomery’s work. Why do we read Montgomery? Why is the study of her work still so active?

Further topics might include:

  • The proliferation of new editions of Montgomery’s books
  • Illustrated versions of the novels
  • Picture books based on Montgomery’s life or of her work (there are a few!)
  • The role of landscape in Montgomery’s work
  • Montgomery in the classroom
  • Montgomery beyond Green Gables
  • Montgomery in Japan
  • Montgomery in Scandinavia
  • Montgomery in Canada/the United States/the United Kingdom/Australia
  • Montgomery in translation

L.M. Montgomery has made lasting impressions on literature and culture worldwide. This issue of The Looking Glass will explore those impressions and speculate as to the future of Montgomery studies and Montgomery’s work. Deadline: 28 February 2015. For further information on columns, submissions, and editorial policies please visit our website: The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature.

L.M. Montgomery and War (collection of essays)

Edited by Andrea McKenzie and Jane Ledwell

The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, a global conflict that would prove life-changing for L.M. Montgomery and millions of her contemporaries. We invite submissions of papers for a collection of essays that consider war in relation to L.M. Montgomery’s fiction, poetry, life writing, photographs, and scrapbooks, and the range of adaptations and spinoffs in the areas of film, television, theatre, tourism, and online communities. McGill-Queen’s University Press has expressed interest in this collection.

Montgomery’s 1921 novel Rilla of Ingleside is one of the only contemporary accounts of Canadian women’s experience on the homefront during the First World War, but the War is evoked and implied in direct and indirect ways in many of the novels, short stories, and poems that precede and follow it. The Blythes Are Quoted, Montgomery’s final published work, bridges the years between the First World War and the Second World War, complicating Montgomery’s perspectives and thoughts about war and conflict. Montgomery’s work has met with a variety of responses world-wide during times of war and rebellion, from post-WWII Japan to today’s Middle Eastern countries. Different kinds of wars and rebellions also permeate her fiction and life writing—class conflicts, family disputes, gender and language wars—sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic. This essay collection seeks to take stock of the complex ways in which war in all its forms has influenced Montgomery’s works and their reception, both in Canada and around the world.

Possible topics include: the Great War anticipated, revisited, remembered, and re-imagined; the politics of gendered witnessing; Montgomery’s reception in times of war and conflict; chivalry, patriarchy, conflict, and romance in poetry and fiction; war as an agent of change; internal and external rebellion in relation to war; the psychology of war in battle and on the homefront.

Papers should clearly articulate the proposed paper’s argument and demonstrate familiarity with current scholarship about both Montgomery and the discipline or field in which you work. (For information about current and past scholarship about Montgomery, please see the website for L.M. Montgomery Online at https://lmmonline.org). Submit a paper of 5,000 to 6,000 words (including references), a biographical statement of 70 words, and a CV by 15 August 2014 to both Andrea McKenzie and Jane Ledwell. Papers must be submitted in Word-compatible format and follow Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, superscript style, for references https://www.mqup.ca/style-guide-pages-99.php.

L.M. Montgomery and Gender (conference)

University of Prince Edward Island, 23–26 June 2016

From Anne’s initial iconic and heartrending cry in Anne of Green Gables—“You don’t want me because I’m not a boy”—to the pressure on young men to join the war effort in Rilla of Ingleside, and from the houseful of supportive co-eds in Anne of the Island to the tyrannical grandmother in Jane of Lantern Hill, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s work highlights gender roles: how formative and deterministic they seem, and yet mutable they may be. Much Montgomery criticism of the past several decades has regarded her work from a feminist and gender studies perspective. Given that Canada is fast approaching the centenary of women’s suffrage in the province of Manitoba (1916) and nationally (1918), the twelfth biennial conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island, which will take place 23–26 June 2016, invites proposals for papers that re-consider the role of gender in L.M. Montgomery’s work, broadly defined: her fiction, poetry, life writing, letters, photographs, and scrapbooks, as well as the myriad adaptations and spinoffs in film, television, theatre, tourism, and social media. To what degree do Montgomery’s works, or works inspired by her, challenge or re-entrench normative gender roles? Do her works envision new possibilities for girls and women, boys and men? Or, is our contemporary fascination with her world, in part, nostalgia for what people imagine to be the more clearly-defined gender roles of a bygone era?

Engaging the rich scholarship of the past, possible topics might examine the intersection of gender with:

  • Sexual identity, queerness, bachelor- and spinsterhood, and/or heterosexual romance;
  • Friendship of all kinds; relationships with personal and professional acquaintances;
  • Geographic, cultural, linguistic, racial, or ethnic identities, such as Scottishness;
  • Voting and politics; careers and/or education for women (or men); domesticity;
  • Levels of ability and mobility;
  • Childhood, particularly orphanhood;
  • Mental and/or physical illness, addiction, and/or failing health.

Please submit a proposal of 250–300 words, a CV that includes education, position, publications, and presentations, and a list of A/V requirements by 31 August 2015 by using our online form at the L.M. Montgomery Institute website at http://www.lmmontgomery.ca/. Abstracts should not only clearly articulate a strong argument but they should also situate that argument in the context of previous Montgomery scholarship. All proposals are blind reviewed. Any questions or requests for further information can be directed to the conference co-chairs: Dr. Andrea McKenzie and/or Dr. Laura Robinson.

NeMLA (conference)

Toronto, April 2015

L.M. Montgomery’s Ontario Years, 1911–42: A Changing World: L.M. Montgomery lived in Ontario from 1911 to 1942, writing fiction that confirmed her place, established by the early Anne novels, in not just Canadian letters but world literature. This session will explore familial, cultural, historical, and geographical influences on her writings during the period that Montgomery lived in Leaskdale, Norval, and Toronto and vacationed in Bala. Bookended by the First and Second World Wars, this period is characterized by changes such as redefined roles for women, increasing commercialization and commodification, and power struggles among those in the literary establishment to shape the canon. Please submit a 250–300-word abstract and short bio online at www.nemla.org. Deadline: 30 September 2014. For further information, contact Lesley Clement.

Beyond “Green Gables”: L.M. Montgomery’s Darker Side: L.M. Montgomery’s last work, The Blythes Are Quoted, and how it came into being, remains largely untouched. This collection of stories and vignettes emphasizes disillusionment and “despair” alongside hope; it is an experiment in form, but a continuation of earlier works in content. This panel seeks to explore the darker threads of Montgomery’s earlier writings, from dark humor and wit to tragedy, examining earlier iterations and themes that better illuminate how her final work came into being. Please submit a 250–300-word abstract and short bio online at www.nemla.org. Deadline: 30 September 2014. For further information, contact Laura M. Robinson.

News and Events

Here are some of the ways in which L.M. Montgomery and her work made news throughout July:

In July, Melanie J. Fishbane conducted a series of conversations called the “Embodying Character Series” with the actors playing the title roles in this summer’s staging of the musical Anne and Gilbert in Charlottetown: Ellen Denny (part 1, part 2) and Patrick Cook (part 1, part 2). And in December, Mel chatted with Marion Abbott, founder of the Spirit of Maud Theatre Company, about writing process and community theatre and Montgomery’s gift for creating three-dimensional characters.

On Saturday, November 29, Melanie Fishbane and I got to attend the Spirit of Maud Theatre Company production of A Kindred Spirit Christmas in Norval, Ontario (where Montgomery and her family lived between 1926 and 1935), as part of the annual Montgomery Christmas. Dramatized and directed by Marion Abbott, the performance consisted of four pieces from Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories: “The End of the Young Family Feud,” “Aunt Cyrilla’s Christmas Basket,” “Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves” (from Anne of Green Gables) and “Katherine Brooke Comes to Green Gables” (from Anne of Windy Poplars). The play was terrific: solid performances by all the cast members, most of whom were teenagers and young adults, and the fact that it was held at St. Paul’s Anglican Parish Hall, where Montgomery herself directed a number of community plays, made it extra special. And I got to do a Q&A with the cast afterward, which was so much fun!

Besides that, I signed copies of the first two volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Reader at Crawford’s Village Bakery, where I also stocked up on jams and jellies and preserves, although this year it was with a heavy heart because the Crawford family had recently announced that the bakery would be closing its doors soon. Elaine Crawford and Kelly Crawford are the authors of Aunt Maud’s Recipe Book (1996), which deserves to be in everyone’s Montgomery collection.

Benjamin Lefebvre during a Q&A at the Spirit of Maud Theatre Company production of A Kindred Spirit Christmas, St. Paul’s Anglican Parish Hall, Norval, on 29 November 2014. Photo by Melanie Fishbane.