Wednesday, October 5, 2011

UNMG Prof to Reveal Woman Behind Little Women

For many decades after Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was published in 1868, it and several successive Alcott novels were at the top of most young girls’ reading lists. Times have changed, however, and Alcott, though still read, is not as well known among young readers as she was even as late as the Sixties and Seventies.

Gloria Dyc, UNM Regents Professor in English and a professor at UNM-Gallup, is lending her support to a nationwide project to introduce Alcott to a new generation. She’s participating in a library outreach program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association and the Nancy Porter and Harriet Reisen for Filmmakers Collaborative that aims to acquaint the public with “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women. ” This program is being presented at 30 libraries nationwide, including  the Octavia Fellin Library in Gallup.

Dyc’s part as program scholar will be to play Alcott on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. in the library.

“I’m going to do a Chatauqua,” said Dyc, referring to the famed Chatauqua Institution, a seasonal program from Chatauqua, N.Y., that offers a mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs and recreational activities. Dyc said she will dress in clothes approximating those worn by women in the Civil War era, and will  quote Alcott and give commentary as if she were the author.

“I hadn’t read Little Women for years, but I read it again along with Little Men,” she said. “I’m doing some research on women’s suffrage and human rights at the start of the Civil War period and the period that stretched beyond abolition of slavery.” Alcott was notable not only for her writing, but for her early support of women’s rights and abolition. Dyc also reread Henry David Thoreau’s Walden as well as the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Both writers were friends of Alcott’s famous father, Amos Bronson Alcott, a teacher, philosopher, writer and reformer, and were important in forming her education and her writing career.
“I hadn’t read Thoreau and Emerson since college, but I found I was still close to them in philosophy, and I’ll be working on some of their ideas,” Dyc said.

Dyc said in her talk she will not only be focusing on Alcott, but also the period she lived in.

The Octavia Fellin Public Library was one of 30 libraries nationwide selected to present the Alcott program, which will also include “Spend a Day in the 1860s,” on Saturday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. There will be Civil War re-enactors, games, candle making, music, quilting, period dress, discussion soiree, films, dance, refreshments, and a presentation on the Battle of Glorieta Pass. The library event is being presented in partnership with the Crownpoint Historical Commission, the Gallup Branch and the Zuni Tribal Library. There will also be programs presented in Navajo and Zuni.

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