CFP: Laurapalooza 2010: Legacies

Sponsored by the newly formed Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association and the Department of Mass Communications at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

We invite submissions of paper proposals for review and possible acceptance for presentation at the first LauraPalooza conference, to be held on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, July 15-17, 2010.

The theme of this year’s conference, Legacies, reflects interest in the continuing influence of the lives and stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, on American culture, history, values and ideological practice. Such influence includes:

  • The broad influence the stories have had on American popular culture in the last 75 years
  • The history of the books and their cultural, educational, political, and social influences
  • The renewed interest in women’s handwork as cultural artifacts of women’s history
  • The preservation of American folk music ways
  • The preservation of American food ways
  • The strategic and political influence of farming and farming culture in American history
  • The long-term ramifications of the 1862 Homestead Act on Western culture
  • The ever-widening circle of Lane’s politically Libertarian belief structures
  • Historical racism and its lasting effects
  • New discoveries in individual research that add to the Lane and Wilder legacies
  • Any other way you might interpret the legacies of Wilder and Lane.

Submit your proposal in the form of a 700 to 1,000 word abstract, outlining your idea and research, by midnight on December 15, 2009. Be sure to include all contact information. Abstracts should be sent via email to, program chair. Acceptance notifications will be sent out via email on the birthdate of Laura Ingalls Wilder: February 7, 2010. Those with accepted proposals will be expected to register for and attend the LauraPalooza 2010: Legacies conference.

Information and updates about LP 2010 may be found at

Prairie Tale: A Memoir (2009)

Melissa Gilbert’s memoir Prairie Tale will be published by Simon & Schuster on 7 June 2009!

A fascinating, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting tale of self-discovery from the beloved actress who earned a permanent place in the hearts of millions when she was just a child.

To fans of the hugely successful television series Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Gilbert grew up in a fantasy world with a larger-than-life father, friends and family she could count on, and plenty of animals to play with. Children across the country dreamed of the Ingalls’ idyllic life—and so did Melissa.

She was a natural on camera, but behind the scenes, life was more complicated. Adopted as a baby into a legendary show business family, Melissa wrestled with questions about her identity and struggled to maintain an image of perfection her mother created and enforced. Only after years of substance abuse, dysfunctional relationships, and made-for-television movies did she begin to figure out who she really was.

With candor and humor, the cherished actress traces her complicated journey from buck-toothed Laura “Half-pint” Ingalls to Hollywood starlet, wife, and mother. She partied with the Brat Pack, dated heartthrobs like Rob Lowe and bad boys like Billy Idol, and began a self-destructive pattern of addiction and codependence. Left in debt after her first marriage, and struggling to create some sense of stability, she eventually realized that her career on television had earned her popularity, admiration, and love from everyone but herself.

Through hard work, tenacity, sobriety, and the blessings of a solid marriage, Melissa has accepted her many different identities and learned to laugh, cry, and forgive in new ways. Women everywhere may have idolized her charming life on Little House on the Prairie, but Melissa’s own unexpectedly honest, imperfect, and down-to-earth story is an inspiration.

New Novel about Almanzo Wilder? has added a listing for an untitled Almanzo Wilder novel to be written by Heather Williams and published in August 2011. Heather Williams, the pen name of Tui Sutherland, is the author of Nellie Oleson Meets Laura Ingalls (2007). Does this suggest there will be more Little House books in the years to come? Stay tuned!

LHOTP Musical in Toronto

An ad in the Globe and Mail shows that Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, with Melissa Gilbert as Ma, will be coming to Toronto in January 2010, as part of the Mirvish Theatre Subscription Season. The musical premiered on 26 July 2008 at Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, is based on the entire Little House saga, and was directed by Francesca Zambello, with book by Rachel Sheinkin, music by Rachel Portman, and lyrics by Donna di Novelli. Although the specific venue of the Toronto version has not yet been announced, please visit the Mirvish website for more information.

Welcome Back

The new version of the Little House Archive is finally ready. Launched in 2004, this website the cultural phenomenon of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autofiction and its derivatives, with an emphasis on academic scholarship. In the last few years, a number of exciting new studies have been added to the Little House library: a new biography, Pamela Smith Hill’s Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life, the first volume in the South Dakota Biography Series (South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2007); a new edition, The Rediscovered Writings of Rose Wilder Lane, Literary Journalist, edited by Amy Mattson Lauters (University of Missouri Press, 2007); and two new studies, Anita Clair Fellman’s Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture (University of Missouri Press, June 2008) and John E. Miller’s Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane: Authorship, Place, Time, and Culture(University of Missouri Press, forthcoming in December 2008). If you know of any items I may have missed, please let me know.