L.M. Montgomery and Gender conference: Eyebrow-raising, in-depth and surprising
Topics at conference will explore everything from cross-dressing to oppression in Montgomery's work
The work of Lucy Maud Montgomery will be looked at through a very modern lens this week, as the L.M. Montgomery Institute's 12th Biennial Conference tackles a very topical issue — gender.
This year's program includes discussions about "everything from sexuality to ideal men to spinsters," said conference co-chair Andrea McKenzie, an associate professor at York University.
"If you put the two together, Montgomery and the concept of gender, this much discussed topic today, it makes for a really, really exciting, in depth and surprising conference."
Some of the topics have provocative titles, including: Orgies of Love Making: Female Romance and Love in the Work of L.M. Montgomery, as well as Cross-Dressing, Twins, Language and Gender in L.M. Montgomery's Short Fiction.
"I think some of these topics may raise eyebrows, but they do give us new perspectives on L.M. Montgomery and her work — and surprising angles are often entertaining and yet they add to our knowlege."
McKenzie says there are also titles like The Bitter Laugh: Language of Oppression in L.M. Montgomery's Anti-Romantic Trope that offer a counterpart to the more provocative research.
"When we look at overall body of L.M., much of it involves romance, many undercurrents of the way that men and women deal with one another, sexually as well as romantically. Montgomery is a complex writer, there are these undertones."
Work that endures across a century
McKenzie believes Montgomery's work is popular today as she was when first published — maybe even more so.
Canadian author Jane Urquhart, who was inspired by L.M. Montgomery will be giving the keynote address on Saturday, and a public reading at Confederation Centre of the Arts on Friday night.
"We have people from all kinds of disciplines and walks of life actually presenting at conference," said McKenzie.
"When you think simply about the range of perspectives and knowledge and enthusiasm that they bring, that's part of what makes the conference itself enduring."
McKenzie says that shows Montgomery's appeal is still growing, as her work enters new countries and audiences.