Dr. Benjamin Lefebvre of Waterloo, Ontario, has been appointed the 2009 Visiting Scholar for the L.M. Montgomery Institute (LMMI) at the University of Prince Edward Island, announced Institute chair Mark Leggott.
Lefebvre will work with the LMMI’s governing committee to facilitate and expand scholarship about L.M. Montgomery, P.E.I.’s most famous author, and her contemporaries.
His first task as Visiting Scholar is to give a talk about L.M. Montgomery to people attending the July 24 performance of Jan de Hartog’s play, The Fourposter, at the Montgomery Theatre in Cavendish. The play tells the history of a marriage from the wedding night in 1890 to 1925, with all scenes taking place in the couple’s bedroom. Starting at 7 p.m., Lefebvre will speak about Montgomery’s own marriage and the way she depicts it in her journals, focusing specifically on confrontations and conversations that occurred in her bedroom. The proceeds from the performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be donated to the LMMI.
He is looking forward to working with the LMMI on new projects that will benefit Montgomery’s international community of readers.
"Through its conference series and its related publications, the L.M. Montgomery Institute has long been a hub of activity for Montgomery studies, which has become an established and interdisciplinary field," he says.
Lefebvre will co-chair the 2010 LMMI Conference, titled “L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature,” with UPEI’s Dr. Jean Mitchell, 2008 LMMI Visiting Scholar. He will also complete a critical edition of Montgomery’s essays and interviews from the period 1909 to 1939. The collection will include over 50 pieces, most of which have not been reprinted since their initial publication in leading periodicals such as Saturday Night, The Canadian Magazine, Canadian Bookman, Everywoman's World, Maclean's, The Chatelaine, Family Herald and Weekly Star, Maritime Advocate and Busy East, and Toronto Star.
“What we see in these pieces is Montgomery at her best,” he says. “We see her constructing and perfecting a public persona, a voice that differs from the one that is revealed in the five volumes of her published journals. These neglected pieces show Montgomery to be in total control of herself: as a rising celebrity writer, as a minister's wife, as a reluctant feminist, as an established voice in Canada and beyond.”
Lefebvre received his Ph.D. from McMaster University in 2006 and is currently completing a two-year postdoctoral fellowship, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, at the University of Alberta. He will take up the LMMI Visiting Scholar position in conjunction with a nine-month Leverhulme visiting fellowship at the University of Worcester, where he will study the transformation of books for young people into media cycles in Canada, the U.S. and England.
He has published internationally on Montgomery's fiction and life writing and on film, television and tourism adaptations of her work. His edition of Montgomery's rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, will be published by Viking Canada in October 2009.
Lefebvre’s term as Visiting Scholar runs from July 2009 to June 2010.