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L.M. Montgomery and Gender Conference: Day Three

While the conference may be over, we can still relive the special moments. Today, Rachel McMillan guest blogs about the third day of the L.M. Montgomery and Gender Conference.

Day Three, by Rachel McMillan

ImageAfter guzzling coffee to recover from the excitement of the previous day as well as an evening of socializing with other Maud fans and, of course, keynote speaker Jane Urquhart’s public reading at the Confederation Centre, the silent auction winners were in possession of their bounty and another filled-to-the-brim conference day began.

As a first-time attendee, I learned that the only way to make the extremely difficult decision between the fascinating topics of the concurrent sessions was to rest assured that other enthusiasts would be using the #LMMI2016 hashtag from the next room and contributing all of the goodies from the panels they were hearing. 

In The Business of Gender, chaired by E. Holly Pike, Sarah Galletly of James Cook University, enhanced her talk on Montgomery’s Early Periodical Short fiction with extensive and wonderful examples of Montgomery’s ephemeral stories. Kate Sutherland of York University had us all contemplating the difficulties of women writing for payment and pleasure in a patriarchal society.  As in all of the sessions, the Q and A period was full of wonderful discourse.                  

Through Twitter, I enjoyed catching tidbits from the panel on Spinsters in the adjacent room. "The Forgotten Spinster: Examining the Unmarried Life in The Blue Castle" and "Valancy, Agency and the Alternative (New) Old Maidenhood in The Blue Castle," as well as "Spinsters as Structural Backbone in Montgomery’s Work" made it difficult to choose between the panels. Luckily we had tweeters ready to share just some of the brilliant observations inspired by these discourses.

Our keynote speaker was internationally acclaimed author Jane Urquhart whose personal enthusiasm for Montgomery was inherited from her mother: a passionate reader.  When working on her own biography of LM Montgomery, Urquhart was fortunate enough to return to the house where she read Montgomery’s books in childhood inspiring the audience to recall their earliest reading experiences.  Urquhart also mentioned the key relationship between author and reader: something that perfectly summarizes the kinship so many of us experience while reading our Maud.


After a lively discussion at lunch, we were treated to one of my favourite highlights of the conference: a plenary panel on Loss and Motherhood chaired by Deirdre Kessler, Poet Laureate of Prince Edward Island). What struck me was how well each unique paper interconnected and how moved we were by Balaka Basu’s slides of Edwardian maternity corsets and Tara Parmiter’s poignant examination of the Anguish of Mother’s Loss using both Anne’s House of Dreams and Montgomery’s personal experience to inform her work. 

The second set of Saturday’s Concurrent Sessions inspired more lively twitter discussion.  Laura Leden of Helsinki chaired a look at Anne from Icelandic scholars featuring talks on the translation of Anne of Green Gables to Icelandic and the Icelandic publishing history of our favourite red-head.  In the next room, Anger, Labour and Subversion was chaired by Carole Gerson and featured talk on "Subverting Gender Roles in the Selected Short Stories," "Gendered Child Labour in Anne and Emily," and "Gender and War."

The Donors’ Reception at the Robertson Library provided delegates the opportunity to look at some of the most recent acquisitions by the institute. It also featured a wonderful and warm tribute to the late (and very much cherished) Christy Woster.  The efforts of the “Save Ingleside” Indiegogo campaign founded by Vanessa Brown were discussed and Simon Lloyd read her  letter of gratitude for the work done by the Montgomery community to salvage these priceless additions.

 Honouring Christy Woster

The banquet featured delicious hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dessert, lively conversation as well as music by a talented young fiddler. The event was attended by Their Honours Frank and Dorothy Lewis and author Jane Urquhart, who sat at the head table alongside Montgomery scholar ( and academic pioneer) Elizabeth Waterston and our keynote speakers, as well as Philip Smith, Chair of the LM Montgomery Institute. The entertainment portion of the evening featured a lively reading selection from Emily Climbs, a “sneak-peek” at Melanie Fishbane’s upcoming 2017 publication Maud: A Novel and a snapshot of Benjamin Lefebvre’s current work with Montgomery’s articles and contributions to the Halifax Daily Echo during her tenure there.

ImageOne of the most anticipated parts of the evening was the announcement of the next visiting scholar and the reveal of the theme of the 2018 LMMI Conference. Dr. Emily Woster, a scholar and long-time friend to the L.M. Montgomery community was appointed Dr. Laura Robinson’s successor.  Dr. Robinson will be continuing as visiting scholar through 2017. They will both act as the upcoming conferences co-chairs. The theme for the 2018 Conference is L.M. Montgomery and Reading: and I can think of few topics more appropriate (or enthusiastically received) by a congregation of Montgomery enthusiasts and voracious readers who share their Maud’s passion for the written word.