Island Studies lecture examines L.M. Montgomery’s urban Prince Edward Island

Chair of L.M. Montgomery Studies and Applied Communication, Leadership, and Culture to present final lecture of the 2018 series, May 15
Posted: 
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Dr. Kate Scarth

The final presentation in the 2018 Island Studies Lecture series takes place on Tuesday, May 15, at 7:00 pm in the Faculty Lounge of UPEI’s SDU Main Building. Dr. Kate Scarth, Chair of L.M. Montgomery Studies and Applied Communication, Leadership, and Culture, will present “Anne of Charlottetown and Summerside: L.M. Montgomery’s Urban PEI.”

This presentation follows Anne of Green Gables to Charlottetown and Summerside. In Anne of Green Gables, Anne goes to Queen’s College—a fictional version of Prince of Wales College—and in Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne is the principal of Summerside High School. Of course, Anne of Green Gables and its author L.M. Montgomery usually conjure up images of rural Avonlea and Cavendish, the beaches and farms of PEI’s north shore. Montgomery’s rural Island is reflected in her own writings, and later film and TV adaptations from Kevin Sullivan’s 1980s miniseries starring Megan Follows to CBC/Netflix’s recent Anne with an E, and the many tourist sites like Green Gables that celebrate the author. While the rural looms large in her life and work, Montgomery was also a chronicler of urban Canada. She wrote journals and letters about her life in Charlottetown, Prince Albert, Halifax, and Toronto, while three novels, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, and Jane of Lantern Hill, have significant urban settings.

In the early twentieth century, Canadian cities and their suburbs were growing and offered amenities and possibilities—electric lights, fashionable shops, ice cream parlours, secondary and post-secondary education—not available in the countryside. Montgomery’s towns include these urban offerings and as harbourside island towns, Charlottetown and Summerside are particularly linked to the wider, modern world; the ferry, for example, which brings Anne to the Island for the first time, comes and goes from the provincial capital. At the same time, Charlottetown and Summerside are at their best in the Anne books when they showcase PEI nature and rural life. Avonlea permeates Charlottetown: the capital’s exhibition showcases Avonlea goods and talents and the city’s newspapers describe Avonlea residents’ accomplishments. Anne continually seeks out the towns’ parks, graveyards, and the sea, reflecting a wider late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century movement towards public green spaces and suburbanization. This presentation then asks: how does one of the most insightful writers of PEI and Canada’s literary landscapes grapple with the tensions between modernizing, globally linked, and growing towns and a traditional rural, agriculturally based island? The presentation also offers an urban dimension to a writer usually steeped in rural tradition, but who was writing about a Canada starting to become the urban nation it is today.

Dr. Kate Scarth is the Chair of L.M. Montgomery Studies and Applied Communication, Leadership, and Culture (ACLC) at UPEI.  Her research focuses on English and Canadian literature written from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, and she is particularly interested in fiction about urbanism and the environment. Her book, Romantic Suburbs: Sensibility, Ecology, and Greater London, is under contract with the University of Toronto Press. She is also leading a digital humanities, public engagement project about literary Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Admission to the lecture is free. Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Laurie at iis@upei.ca or (902) 894-2881.

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.

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