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Civil War Series: Part Two (C/S258)

Louisa May Alcott Behind "Little Women"

This course will study the works of Louisa May Alcott, her Victorian children's novels as well as her long-lost "blood and thunder" stories. We will study Louisa's participation in the Civil War, both as a nurse in Washington, DC, as a member of a highly visible abolitionist family, and as the author of the influential "Hospital Sketches," one of the first books to illustrate the suffering of the men and women involved in the front lines of the war. We will also study the eccentric lives of the Alcott family, the part that abolitionism and women's rights played in the evolution of Louisa's character and works, and the effect of "Little Women" on children's literature of the Civil War period -- and the Civil War's role in "Little Women." We will explore the darker side of the Alcott world, from Bronson Alcott's severe depressions and mental illness to the early deaths of Louisa's sisters Elizabeth and Abba. Taken in the context of mid-19th century culture and the Civil War period, students will explore Alcott's ground-breaking approach to children's literature and her interweaving of progressive social themes into her innocent children's tales, as well as into her more macabre and brooding adult thrillers, written under the pen name of A.M. Barnard. If you are already a fan of Alcott, this course may move you to return to her works with a different perspective; if you have never read Alcott, this course may send you rushing to the library!

4/9- 6/4, Wednesdays, (9 sessions)
7:00-9:00 PM
ACM: H-2
Instructor: Ellen McDaniel-Weissler
Course Cost: $52.00
Maryland Senior Course Cost: $9.00