Looking Back–Looking Ahead

It’s been an amazing year in my writing, teaching, and reading lives, and I can’t wait for 2016. In fact, for a while now, I’ve been writing 2016 when I write down the date. That’s how much I’m looking forward to it. But first, a look back at 2015.

I have been busy completing two books as well as writing four online pieces and one very long overview of American literary regionalism for a scholarly reference book. I taught some wonderful classes this year as well. My favorite has to be “American Women’s Travel Narratives” because it brought me to Cork, Ireland. My daughter and I spent four weeks In Ireland (getting out of Cork as often as we could) before joining my husband for a two-week trip in Ireland and England. Some of our favorite sights:


Blarney Castle–We climbed to the top, but we didn’t kiss the stone. The views and the grounds were the real attraction.


Mizen Head–I could have looked out at the waves all day.


Dromberg Stone Circle–Not Stonehenge, but more impressive in some ways because so quiet and isolated.


A cup of tea on the Dingle Peninsula. The view alone has remained in my memory, but that was also where I received a phone call from the States telling me that I had won an NEH Public Scholar Award, so that spot will always be doubly special to me.

The course I taught in Cork was also amazing.  Of the many interesting books we read–set in Ireland, England, France, and Italy–these were my favorites:

In the fall, back home in New Orleans, I taught a really amazing class on “Becoming Women: The Female Bildungsroman.” I think I loved every book, and we had such wonderful discussions about each of them, but these were perhaps the biggest hits:


In the year ahead I won’t be teaching at all (because of that NEH award). I will miss my students and our class discussions, but I will also be starting something new and exciting. On January 1, I will begin work on my next book, Reading Little Women. So there will be a lot of reading in the coming year: everything Alcott and Little Women, but also other female Bildungsromane, about which I am doing a Classics Club reading challenge (more to come on that very soon).

Perhaps the most important event I am looking forward to (and why I have been writing 2016 for the date already) is the launch of my two books:

They both come out February 29. A book launch reading at Octavia Books in New Orleans is set for March 3, and readings in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and New York are scheduled for the week of Mar. 21. I’ll be updating the Events page of my website with more as they are scheduled.  I look forward to sharing the whole publication journey here on my blog, in my newsletter, and on Facebook and Twitter.  Now on to 2016!



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  1. Having completed all my course work for my MA in literature, I had to find a thesis advisor who would accept my proposal. It was 1969. I wrote up my proposal to write about the Female Bildungsroman and gave it to the man who was the most appropriate choice considering our shared interests. He was a well known scholar in the field of American literary regionalism and naturalism. It never for one single second occurred to me that he would turn down my proposal. When I went to retrieve my proposal and learn his decision he laughed and handed my papers back to me and said, “I can’t allow you to do this and I certainly wouldn’t want to associate myself with this topic.”
    “Why,” I asked.
    “Because there is no such thing as a female bildungsroman.”
    “But, but, but, didn’t you see the list of novels I attached?”
    “Of course,” he said, “but none of them are any good. None deserve serious scholarly attention.”
    “Have you ever read any of them?”
    “Of course not.”
    “Then how do you know none of them are any good?”
    “Because I went all the way through my PhD coursework and never heard of any of these. I was never asked to read any of them. So how could they be any good?”

    A little story for those who take your course in The Female Bildungsroman.

    Will you send me your syllabus?

    1. Your story is so disturbing, Susan. Thank you for sharing it. I wish I could say that times had completely changed. I am working now on a list of female Bildungsromane that should be more widely known but aren’t (such as Woolson’s Anne). I’ll post a link here when it is published. I’d be happy to send you my syllabus.

  2. What a beautiful year to look back on and a promising one ahead, Anne. I’m so delighted we connected in 2015. I’ve learned so much from your gracious and generous spirit. I wish you the most wonderful success as “Constance” launches and “Little Women” grows. Here’s to an amazing 2016!

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