Social Justice Award Winners

The Lydia Maria Child Society’s Executive Board is pleased to announce and
introduce the winners of our society’s first ever Social Justice Award. The awards are designed to recognize students, scholars, and professionals whose work reflects Child’s fierce commitment to equity and social progress. In fact, the nominations were so numerous, varied, and excellent that we  chose to offer not two awards as originally planned but three, recognizing both this year and in years to come a high school or undergraduate student, a graduate student, and a scholar or other professional. We are thrilled that our call for nominations garnered so many outstanding responses, which serves as a testament to the ways in which Child’s tireless activism continues echo forward in intellectual and academic realms. We are eager to honor the work of our winners and to introduce our members to their exciting accomplishments and projects.

In the high school/undergraduate category, our winner is Tara Fritz of St.
Francis University. Tara is a rising senior majoring in English, with minors in French, Women’s Studies, and Social Responsibility. In spite of her clearly full academic schedule, Tara routinely finds time to promote social equity throughout her campus and community. She has organized campus-wide events to raise money for groups ranging from Haitian nuns and the community they serve to local women’s help centers and has worked to give fellow students opportunities to engage in critical discussions of gender equity through organizing film screenings and guest lectures. To learn more about Tara and her accomplishments, see her university’s press release on her receipt of this award at
https://www.francis.edu/News/2016/06/Senior-wins-national-Social-Justice-Award/.

Our graduate student winner is Corey Hickner-Johnson, a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Iowa. Corey’s dissertation focuses on mental disability as experienced by women writers and characters and hopes “to show the affective and felt dimensions of mental disability and to argue that we should take mental disability on its own terms, instead of pathologizing or dismissing those who deal with mental disability.” She has written on the recovery of oral traditions in African American, Native American, and Hmong American women’s writing and in addition to her academic work has written op-eds on such topics as women’s rights, teachers’ rights, and Native American rights.

Finally, the winner of our award for professors and independent scholars is
Dr. Brigitte Fielder, a professor in the Comparative Literature department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To quote one of her three enthusiastic nominators, “Like Child, [Brigitte] has written about the ethical and social ties that bind how we think together about the radical politics of feminism, anti-racism, and species distinction both in the nineteenth-century and today.” She has written, for instance, about the dynamics of cross-racial and cross-species sympathy from abolitionist children’s literature to reporting on Hurricane Katrina. At the university, she has taught courses with titles like “Long Before Beyonce: Early African American Feminisms,” and she has also taught literature courses to (and worked on behalf of) incarcerated students.

Getting a glimpse into Tara, Corey, and Brigitte’s work, as well as the
impressive work of the other nominees, all of whom deserve recognition, has
served as a powerful reminder of our capacity as literary scholars to
follow Child in working toward social change. We hope it will do the same
for our members, and we look forward to making our society’s social justice
awards an annual tradition.

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Membership Renewals

Annual memberships to the Lydia Maria Child Society are due for renewal by July 1st. The easiest way to renew is via our website at https://lydiamariachildsociety.wordpress.com/join-us/. Fill out the form and select the appropriate payment option.

If you prefer to fill out a paper form and send a check by mail, please copy the Membershp Form below and past into a Word Document to print and remit with payment.

Members of the LMCS have access to our listserv, receive our society newsletter, and are invited to vote, hold office and contribute to our events and programs.

We thank you for your support of the LMCS over the past year as we have built a strong foundation through the creation of our constitution and by-laws, the establishment of our executive and advisory boards, the launching of our website, our innovative conference programming, and the start of our Lydia Maria Child Social Justice Awards. We look forward to the second year of the LMCS with plans to develop a society newsletter in addition to pedagogical resources and a stimulating blog via our website. We also look to implement new social justice initiatives through community engagement.

LYDIA MARIA CHILD SOCIETY

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Over the River…

Please visit Constance Jackson’s inspiring film on Lydia Maria Child @ http://overtherivermovie.com.

Over the River . . . Life of Lydia Maria Child, Abolitionist for Freedom sweeps the viewer back into the social upheaval of 19th-century America and the tumultuous life of Lydia Maria Child, a popular writer of novels, children’s literature, and domestic advice whose books were burned when she entered the battle to abolish slavery with the publication of An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans. Despite increasing hardships in her personal life, Child became one of the country’s most eminent anti-slavery, Indian rights, and women’s rights authors. Later, as editor of Harriet Jacobs’s autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Child courageously faced down public outrage for including the passages on sexual brutality.

Historians today have largely ignored her contribution in shaping early America. She is remembered primarily for her popular Thanksgiving Day poem turned song, Over the River and through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go. With archival photographs and illustrations, rarely seen documentary footage, in-depth interviews, and dramatic reenactments, Over the River… rescues this important figure from obscurity, bringing her vividly to life. Along the way, the film explores Child’s involvement in the events and issues that pushed Americans into the bloodiest conflict ever fought on U.S. soil, ones that continue to shape the nation in the 21st century.

Social Justice Awards

In keeping with our society’s goal of honoring and continuing Lydia Maria Child’s vision of and work toward social justice, the Lydia Maria Child Society is pleased to offer two awards recognizing work on American literature that furthers social change: one for literature scholars at the graduate level and beyond and one for high school and undergraduate students.  Child routinely wrote on behalf of the marginalized, emerging as a passionate advocate for slaves, Native Americans, prisoners, prostitutes, and even animals, among a host of others.  Our society aims to recognize academic writing that, like Child’s, speaks to pressing social causes, as well as pedagogical endeavors and other projects that foreground the voices of (oftentimes neglected) authors who have worked to produce such writing.  To apply for either award or to nominate a colleague, friend, or student, please send to lydiamariachildsociety@gmail.com by May 1, with “Social justice award” as the subject line of your email, a letter detailing the ways in which your own or your nominee’s literary scholarship engages with current social justice concerns.  You are also welcome, though not required, to include a writing sample that demonstrates this engagement.  These samples may take the form of essays (or essay excerpts), course syllabi, or descriptions of projects that explore the intersections between American literature and social justice outside the academic classroom.

Applications should be sent as Word documents and should not exceed 15 pages.  While we will be happy to receive submissions that consider Child directly, Child need not be included in order for projects to be eligible; we welcome projects on a variety of authors, genres, periods, and concerns.  Winners will be recognized at the upcoming ALA conference and will receive a monetary award of $100, though they need not be present at the conference in order to be eligible for the award.  We look forward to reading your submissions.