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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.