In June 2008 the University of Missouri Press will release a new scholarly book about Laura called Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture by Anita Clair Fellman. Fellman is the Chair of Women’s Studies at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
This book gets an endorsement from none other than William Holtz: “There is much to admire in this book. Many have casually noted these connections, but no one has put them all together so well.”
I admit, Holtz endorsement notwithstanding, this book has me curious. Like Pamela Smith Hill’s recent LIW biography, I have a feeling that this book will offer something completely new. Here’s the beginning of the book’s description:
Beyond their status as classic children’s stories, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books play a significant role in American culture that most people cannot begin to appreciate. Millions of children have sampled the books in school; played out the roles of Laura and Mary; or visited Wilder homesites with their parents, who may be fans themselves. Yet, as Anita Clair Fellman shows, there is even more to this magical series with its clear emotional appeal: a covert political message that made many readers comfortable with the resurgence of conservatism in the Reagan years and beyond.
It goes on to say that the books show how pop culture can explain shifts in political assumption, and that the anti-New Deal attitude both Rose and Laura had, as well as Rose’s bourgeoning libertarian views, helped shape the political attitude in the book series as it was being written.