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Louisa May Alcott events at College, Public Library

$2,500 ALA and NEH grant programs center on author

Louisa May Alcott eventsThe American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) granted $2,500 to Elizabethtown Public Library (EPL) to support programs featuring the documentary “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women” and the companion biography of the same name. Elizabethtown College partnered with Bethleen Bradford, ELP Outreach Services Coordinator, project coordinator and author of the grant to bring these events to the community and provided additional funding for author Harriet Reisen's  visit to Elizabethtown.

Thirty selected libraries will present programs focused on Alcott, her body of work and her era. The libraries enlist a lead project scholar with expertise in 19th-century American history or literature to help present and plan programs. Dr. Kimberly VanEsveld Adams, associate professor of English at Elizabethtown College, is the EPL scholar.

The grant programming is structured around the award-winning documentary by Harriet Reisen and Nancy Porter, “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women.” Though Louisa May Alcott is best known as the author of children’s stories, “Little Women,” “Little Men” and “Jo’s Boys,” as well as “An Old-Fashioned Girl” and “Eight Cousins,” the author began her career writing thrillers or gothic tales under the pen name A.M. Barnard.

Alcott also wrote “grown-up” novels – “Hospital Sketches,” about service as a Civil War nurse; “Work: A Story of Experience,” a novel about a young woman’s struggle to find employment; and “Transcendental Wild Oats,” a dark but funny story about disastrous utopian community called Fruitlands.Alcott DVD

A screening of the film “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women” takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, in Brinser Lecture Room in Steinman Hall at Elizabethtown College. The documentary, by Nancy Porter and Alcott biographer Harriet Reisen, was originally broadcast on the PBS series “American Masters.” Parking for the film is available on College Avenue and Alpha Drive and in the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center parking lot.

Biographer Reisen will be on the Elizabethtown College campus at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, to speak on "Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women.” Discussion of the biography includes clips from the documentary and takes place in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. Discover what makes Alcott a woman for all ages. There is no registration for this program sponsored by Elizabethtown Public Library, Office of the Provost, the English Department and the Women and Gender Studies program.

Additional Alcott programs include:

“Alcott’s Pen, Prose, Men, and Martyrs: Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War Saga,” with Jean-Paul Benowitz, assistant director of Academic Advising and adjunct professor of History, at Elizabethtown College. At 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, in Elizabethtown Public Library Auditorium, lower level, 10 S. Market St., Benowitz explores how Alcott’s poetry, fiction and nonfiction and literature was largely influenced by the Civil War and the men in her life. Benowitz discloses how, first and foremost, Alcott’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, and his associates, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Theodore Parker, William Ellery Channing, and William Lloyd Garrison and her teachers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne, shaped her world view. Preregister for this program. Space is limited.

“Gothic: Louisa May Alcott's Thrillers,” a talk by Dr. Kimberly VanEsveld Adams, associate professor of English at Elizabethtown College, and Meghan FitzGerald, an Alcott enthusiast and author of an upcoming book about the writer, takes place at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, in Brinser Lecture Room, Steinman Hall, at Elizabethtown College. Adams and FitzGerald will discuss Alcott’s thrillers, written under a pen name to support her family. Discover the Alcott works you probably never read. Often called Gothic literature, these are the works Louisa described as “blood and thunder” stories. Preregister for this event.Alcott book cover

“Corsets, (Un)employment, Education: Louisa May Alcott and All Kinds of Reforms”
with Dr. Kimberly VanEsveld Adams, associate professor of English, explores Alcott’s reform agendas and the impact she had among her contemporaries and throughout history. The program begins at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, in Bucher Meetinghouse, Young Center for Anabaptists and Pietist Studies, at Elizabethtown College. Registration is requested.

All Louisa May Alcott events are free and open to the public. They are part of the programming organized by Elizabethtown Public Library, funded by an ALA/NEH grant with generous support from the Elizabethtown College Provost’s Office.

To register for any of the Louisa May Alcott programs, contact Elizabethtown Public Library at 717-367-7467 or online. Contact: Kimberly Adams, associate professor of English at Elizabethtown College, at 717-361-1230 or, or Bethleen Bradford, Outreach Services Coordinator at Elizabethtown Public Library, at 717-367-7467, ext. 28, or

More program information is available on the Elizabethtown Public Library website.

Read about additional events at Elizabethtown College.

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