Louisa May Alcott’s America with Dr. Maria Seger
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Join Dr. Maria Seger for an investigation of the writing, life, and times of Louisa May Alcott, the celebrated author of Little Women (1868–69).
Against the backdrops of slavery, the Civil War, and “the cult of domesticity,” Alcott penned sentimentalist fiction in the vein of her most famous novel, dramatizing her work as a domestic and as a nurse in the Civil War. But, struggling to make a living as a professional writer in order to keep her family afloat after the failure of her father’s utopian community called Fruitlands, Alcott also wrote sensational thrillers pseudonymously and attempted to capitalize on the success of Little Women with numerous related tales. Thus, her life and work shed light on the double-binds single women faced in pursuing their art and their independence in the mid-nineteenth century. Along with her best-known novel, this conversation will also cover some of Alcott’s lesser-known gems, including selections from Work (1873), Behind a Mask, or a Woman’s Power (1866), and Hospital Sketches (1863).
Led by an expert on nineteenth-century US literature and culture, Dr. Maria Seger, this conversation will introduce participants to Alcott’s life and work in their critical and historical contexts. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how, in the words of her protagonist Jo March, Alcott’s work “went to the hearts of those who read it.”
In advance of our conversation, the complete text of Alcott’s most popular novels, short fiction, pseudonymous writings, and children’s literature, are accessible here.
This seminar has been designed to be enjoyed as both a single event – or as part of a series of conversations. For details about Dr. Seger's upcoming talks, please click here.
Maria Seger is an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she researches and teaches US, Black, and ethnic literatures and cultures and critical race and ethnic studies. Her work appears in Callaloo, Nineteenth-Century Literature, and Studies in American Naturalism, and her edited collection, Reading Confederate Monuments, is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. She earned her PhD from the University of Connecticut in 2016.
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.