Thursday Nov. 10, Harriet Reisen, the author of the biography “Louisa May Alcott: the Woman Behind Little Women,” will be present at Elizabethtown College in Leffler Chapel at 7:30 p.m. This event is free and open to anyone who wishes to attend, thanks to a grant funded by the American Library Association and National Endowment for the Humanities, and the support from the Provost’s Office. Reisen will give a presentation about her book and will include some images from the documentary that is based on her biography.
The Alcott class that is directed by Dr. Kimberly VanEsveld Adams was based on Reisen’s biography, thanks to the Elizabethtown Public Library receiving a grant to do fall programming. Adams’ class will attend the presentation, which will add to their involvement in the current Alcott events.
Other events leading up to Reisen’s visit included the early October Transcendentalist Tea, in which two students from the class participated. Four English education majors are also teaching Alcott to students of the Elizabethtown Area School District. These sessions take place at the Elizabethtown Public Library.
Although the Reisen lecture and the lunch which precedes it are required for the class, senior Stephanie Smith, a student from the Alcott class, stated that she is very excited to meet Reisen in person because the entire Alcott class is based off her movie and book.
Senior Tess Lutz is excited to meet a person who knows so much about Alcott. It is likely that the experience will be fascinating because of the opportunity to meet and to speak to the author first-hand about her writing, rather than simply hearing the information from a book or a movie. It is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
But, of course, some may be thinking, “Why does that concern me? I’m not in the Alcott class.” The answer is plain, simple and on its way.
Reisen’s presentation will be enjoyable and informative for every person who decides to attend. But the question is: who should attend? Anyone who is interested in “Little Women” or Alcott is encouraged to go to this event because Reisen’s book shows the unexpected side of Alcott. It shows that Alcott’s life wasn’t perfect.
Also, any person with an interest in children’s books, perhaps education majors, will learn something valuable from Reisen’s presentation. History majors or people interested in the nineteenth century will gain knowledge from attending because Reisen will discuss what life was like in that time period. Writers should try to make time for this presentation because Reisen is a very intelligent writer who works hard for her success. A writer may learn some helpful tips that will increase his or her skill at the craft.
Now that it’s known who should attend, many may wonder why. What information will be presented at this event? What will people gain from taking the time out of their Thursday?
Some things about Alcott may surprise attendees. For example, most people know Alcott for her children’s stories, but many will be fascinated to know that she actually wrote more advanced stories for adults, such as a fictional account of her duty as a Civil War nurse.
Also, an attendee will learn about the part of Alcott’s life that wasn’t as wholesome as presented in “Little Women.” Smith stated, “One thing from the book [“Louisa May Alcott: the Woman Behind Little Women”] I will never forget is how hard Louisa’s life was. It is really inspirational to think about how poor and uneducated she was, but somehow she became one of the most well-known authors of all time. Everyone has at least heard of ‘Little Women,’ and to have such a great piece of literature come from a woman with her background is amazing.”
As mentioned before, this presentation will contain multiple elements that will make it fascinating to different people with different interests. Also, this coordinating this event required dedidated effort on the part of Adams, Bethleen Bradford of the Elizabethtown Public Library, and Linda Hinson, the administrative assistant of the English Department; the campus and community are lucky to have the opportunity for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.