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Meet the LMMI's New Visiting Scholar: Dr. Lesley Clement

The LMMI is thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr. Lesley Clement as our next Visiting Scholar, who will be responsible for our 14th Biennial conference in 2020--L.M. Montgomery and Vision. Lesley has held teaching and administrative positions at various Canadian universities. She has published on visual literacy, empathy, and death in children’s literature. She is currently working on immigrants, migrants, and refugees in children’s picturebooks. Her work on Montgomery appears inStudies in Canadian Literature and L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s). Recent projects include co-editing, with Rita Bode, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911-1942 (MQUP 2015) and, with Leyli Jamali, Global Perspectives on Death in Children’s Literature (Routledge 2016). She is currently co-editing a volume of essay, L.M. Montgomery in Conversation about Children and Childhood(s), with Rita Bode, Holly Pike, and Margaret Steffler.

Welcome, Lesley!

1. What was your first experience with L.M. Montgomery’s books and how has this influenced your research?

Lesley Clement (LC): I grew up on the Kennebecasis River between Saint John and Rothesay, NB. I spent many summer days in a secluded rocky nook overlooking the river with the Anne books, the first being my father’s copy of Anne of Green Gables, which I still have on my book shelf. Here I learned the power of books to enter other worlds and to see life through others’ eyes. I can think of no better preparation for a scholar of literature than the books read in childhood. 

2. What is the nature of your research on L.M. Montgomery?

LC: I have had opportunities to approach Montgomery from a number of different angles, empathy and creativity, visual culture, celebrity and Montgomery’s Toronto experience, resilience and resistance of childhood, and (most recently) various facets of death. Montgomery studies can take researchers down so many paths. I am particularly interested in how both her life story and her books challenge the status quo. 

3. The next conference theme is L.M. Montgomery and Vision. Can you please expand on this? 

LC: What has always fascinated me about Montgomery’s journals and fiction is that there is never a straight or direct line between the observing eye and what is seen (or not seen). As we think about the theme for the next conference – the L.M. Montgomery and Vision conference – there are so many different lenses through which to view Montgomery’s life, literature, and/or scholarship: seeing/sight, prescience, dreams, imaginary or supernatural phenomena, apparitions, and the whole terrain of the writing process with its visionings and revisionings. I look forward to seeing how many other perspectives that participants in the conference envision.

4. What are you most excited about being the Visiting Scholar and what are you hoping to accomplish during your tenure?

LC: I am most excited about involvement with the new Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies and contributing in various ways. In terms of other projects, I anticipate the publication of L.M. Montgomery in Conversation about Children and Childhood(s), a volume of essays that I am co-editing with Rita Bode, Holly Pike, and Margaret Steffler, which situates Montgomery’s life and works within the context of on-going dialogues she had with writers and traditions and that they have had with her regarding children and childhood(s). I also look forward to communing with the absent dead in some PEI graveyards as research for work that I have been doing on Montgomery and death.

5. What is your favourite Montgomery book and why?

LC: I really do not have a favourite. What resonates most often, perhaps, are the scenes of female friendship at Patty’s Place in Anne of the Island. I am fascinated with the character of Walter Blythe and seem always to be drawn back to thinking about him in many of my projects.

6. Cordial or Red Current wine? 

LC: I would definitely opt for red currant wine, although there is an excellent recipe for “Diana Barry’s Favourite Raspberry Cordial” in Kate Macdonald’s The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook. But, as Kate warns, “This recipe for raspberry cordial will never be confused with Marilla’s ‘three-year-old homemade currant wine for which she is celebrated in Avonlea.’”