Reconsidering Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House and Beyond
A thoroughly researched and critical examination of Wilder's entire body of work and problematic legacy
Contributions by Emily Anderson, Elif S. Armbruster, Jenna Brack, Christine Cooper-Rompato, Christiane E. Farnan, Melanie J. Fishbane, Vera R. Foley, Sonya Sawyer Fritz, Miranda A. Green-Barteet, Anna Thompson Hajdik, Keri Holt, Shosuke Kinugawa, Margaret Noodin, Anne K. Phillips, Dawn Sardella-Ayres, Katharine Slater, Lindsay Stephens, and Jericho Williams
Reconsidering Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House and Beyond offers a sustained, critical examination of Wilder's writings, including her Little House series, her posthumously published and unrevised The First Four Years, her letters, her journalism, and her autobiography, Pioneer Girl. The collection also draws on biographies of Wilder, letters to and from Wilder and her daughter, collaborator and editor Rose Wilder Lane, and other biographical materials. Contributors analyze the current state of Wilder studies, delineating Wilder's place in a canon of increasingly diverse US women writers, and attending in particular to issues of gender, femininity, space and place, truth, and collaboration, among other issues.
The collection argues that Wilder's work and her contributions to US children's literature, western literature, and the pioneer experience must be considered in context with problematic racialized representations of peoples of color, specifically Native Americans. While Wilder's fiction accurately represents the experiences of white settlers, it also privileges their experiences and validates, explicitly and implicitly, the erasure of Native American peoples and culture. The volume’s contributors engage critically with Wilder's writings, interrogating them, acknowledging their limitations, and enhancing ongoing conversations about them while placing them in context with other voices, works, and perspectives that can bring into focus larger truths about North American history. Reconsidering Laura Ingalls Wilder examines Wilder's strengths and weaknesses as it discusses her writings with context, awareness, and nuance.
For all serious scholars of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her legacy, Miranda A. Green-Barteet and Anne K. Phillips have put together a useful collection of essays that reconsider Wilder’s connections to truth, the American Dream, diverse cultures, and American literature itself. The essays are highly readable, and Christiane E. Farnan’s article on Wilder in the American Studies classroom with its comparison of contemporary texts is outstanding.- Nancy Koupal, director of research and publishing for the South Dakota State Historical Society