The countdown to the twelfth biennial L.M. Montgomery conference (23-26 June 2016) has begun, and we are caught up in a flurry of plans and excitement. The co-chair, Andrea McKenzie, and I were delighted with the response to the theme this year, L.M. Montgomery and Gender. We received close to 70 proposals, which made the job of the vetting committee very difficult indeed. We’ll be hearing papers on “Tannis of the Flats,” on twins, on anger, on the ideal man, on Montgomery as business woman, and on the short stories, to give you just a few teasers. We have a fantastic cast of presenters from as far afield as Australia, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Slovakia, and Sweden.
We are also deeply honoured that award-winning author Jane Urquhart has agreed to be one of our keynote speakers. As many of you know, Ms. Urquhart wrote a biography about Montgomery. Her deeply moving and lyrical novels often explore complicated gender constructions. Her latest, The Night Stages launched this past year to resounding critical acclaim.
We also count ourselves very lucky to welcome as keynote speaker Mavis Reimer who is not only an internationally-renowned children’s literature scholar but who also founded both the Association for Research in Cultures of Young People and the University of Winnipeg’s Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures. Dr. Reimer edited a collection of critical responses on Anne of Green Gables, called Such a Simple Little Tale in 1992.
Of course, no L.M. Montgomery conference would be complete without what UPEI librarian Simon Lloyd has called “The Betsy Talk.” We are thrilled that L.M. Montgomery Institute founder, former UPEI President, and dazzling Montgomery scholar, Elizabeth (Betsy) Epperly will also deliver a keynote address. Her talk is always a highlight.
As the L.M. Montgomery Institute Visiting Scholar, I will also be giving a keynote address. I don’t want to give any spoilers but you might look forward to a discussion about us: as a community of scholars, as a community of like-minded individuals, as a community of readers and fans. As a community, period.
It is rather magical, really, how Montgomery brings us together to form an intergenerational, international, interdisciplinary group of people who develop deep and lasting friendships, both scholarly and otherwise. To those who haven’t come to the conference before, we look forward to meeting you and welcoming you into our community. To our dear, dear Montgomery friends, we cannot wait to catch up, perhaps over some raspberry cordial.