Literature: The Forgotten Tales of Louisa Alcott with Dr Denise Hanrahan-Wells

Ref: C3533102

Little Women has been in print since its first publication in 1869. However, Louisa Alcott produced more than 270 works in genres ranging from children’s fiction, to poetry, gothic and four novels for adults. Her sensationalist work was written under the gender-neutral pseudonym A.M. Barnard and was forgotten for many years after publication. We will explore the rediscovery of these lost tales starting with Behind a Mask or A Woman’s Power (1866), the story of a slightly sinister governess. We will then read Work: A Story of Experience (1873), which recounts the exploits of a young woman’s attempts to reject the traditional path to marriage and become independent, inspired by events in Alcott's life. Both tales take a domestic setting as their starting point, but move beyond the safety of Little Women to engage with issues related to social status, gender, a woman’s place in the world and the cultural context of America in the years before and after the Civil War.

Course aim

To explore two less well-known examples of Louisa Alcott’s writing.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Approach literary texts in a critical way.
  • Explore two lesser known works by Louisa Alcott.
  • Consider the representations of gender and social status in texts of differing genres.
  • Discuss the significance of American cultural context in the set texts.
  • Participate in group discussion.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

You will need copies of the following texts by Louisa Alcott: Behind a Mask, or A Woman's Power Work: A Story of Experience These may be available free online.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Literature: The Forgotten Tales of Louisa Alcott with Dr Denise Hanrahan-Wells

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