10th biennial L.M. Montgomery Conference announces theme
L.M. Montgomery’s “habit was to look back,” wrote Elizabeth Epperly, the founder of the L.M. Montgomery Institute at UPEI. By looking back, Montgomery was “creating among readers a special yearning—very like homesickness—for places they have never been and times in which they have not lived and of course for their own past.”
This June, readers’ yearning will carry Montgomery experts from around the world back to Prince Edward Island, Montgomery’s homeplace and favourite setting for her fiction. The 10th biennial L.M. Montgomery Conference will take place June 20–24 at the University of Prince Edward Island. The theme of this year’s conference is L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory, and Islanders are welcome to participate in all or part of the conference.
“Montgomery’s work is so near to Islanders, it can take an effort to remember how important it is worldwide,” says conference co-chair Simon Lloyd. “The L.M. Montgomery Institute at UPEI has now hosted ten conferences in about twenty years, and both the quality and quantity of research on Montgomery continues to grow.”
Lloyd adds, “It’s especially exciting to see younger scholars and admirers presenting at conferences.”
Conference co-chair Jean Mitchell of the L.M. Montgomery Institute at UPEI explains that the theme of cultural memory is fascinating “because it is about longing and belonging and very much about place and displacement.
“Cultural or collective memory suggests that we have shared social frameworks of individual memories,” says Mitchell, “and as such there are always multiple stories that mediate between the present and the past and between ourselves and others.”
This year’s conference will feature presentations by scholars from across North America, the UK, Scandinavia, and Japan. They will speak about ghost stories, storytelling, parenting, forgetting, war, and religion. They will paint “memoryscapes” using perspectives from “textual archaeology,” anthropology, social work, and law. One panel will consider memory and Montgomery sites and museums; another will focus on material memories in quilts and hooked rugs.
On June 23, a keynote presentation on folklore and memory by Memorial University of Newfoundland folklorist Dianne Tye. Tye says she is particularly interested in “the uses women make of folklore in their everyday lives” and will explore this theme in Montgomery's work. Tye works across a number of folklore genres, including foodways, custom, and narrative.
Montgomery’s novels, hundreds of short stories, journals, scrapbooks, and photographs are a treasure trove of cultural memories—and part of cultural tradition that Islanders share and that organizers hope will draw them to participate in the conference. “In addition to the presentations, there will be workshops, a banquet, a tea, and other special events,” says Mitchell.