This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In this course we will explore central themes which keep this 19th century book for girls relevant for women, and men, of all ages. We will examine the impact of the book on important women in history and discuss its afterlife in continuing adaptations such as the recent PBS Masterpiece series. Themes we will discuss include an overview of the history of the novel; feminism as enacted through Jo; family and religion; emerging from adolescence into womanhood; and grief and transformation.
GROUP LEADER: Susan Bailey a Grafton resident and lifelong student of the Alcott family, writes the “Louisa May Alcott is My Passion” blog popular with fans, students, teachers and scholars alike. This blog, begun in August of 2010, was the first to reveal a recent find of new photographs of Anna Alcott Pratt and her husband John Bridge Pratt, covered in the Boston Globe on December 1, 2017. She is the author of two books, Louisa May Alcott Illuminated by The Message and River of Grace. Susan is currently working on the first-ever biography of Elizabeth Sewall Alcott, “Beth March” of Little Women. She received her BS in Elementary Education in 1978 from Bridgewater State University.
REQUIRED BOOK: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (any edition).
OPTIONAL BOOKS: Little Women and the Feminist Imagination by Janice M. Alberghene (Editor), Beverly Lyon Clark (Editor), Routledge, ISBN# 978-1138798977
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux, W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN# 978-0393254730
FOR THE FIRST CLASS: Read/reread Little Women. If you obtain the optional book Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, please read chapters 1-3.
Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)Assumption University, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609