Full course description

Starts September 22, 2014

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novels have inspired generations of readers of all ages. Unlike most fiction for young readers published during the Great Depression, Wilder’s Little House books have never gone out of print. While they are uniquely American, they seem to cross cultural boundaries, and have been translated into dozens of languages, from German and French to Indonesian and Japanese.

Yet Wilder’s work is also at the center of controversy. Who actually wrote the Little House series? How did Wilder’s personal life influence the direction and content of her fiction? Are the books a reliable and sensitive representation of the pioneer experience in the American West?

This course is designed to explore these issues and more. It will expand your understanding of the literary themes, style, and historical underpinnings of Wilder’s Little House series. You’ll gain insight into complex issues at the heart of contemporary Wilder scholarship: the question of authorship; Wilder’s depiction of American Indians and the frontier; the ethical ambiguities underlying autobiographical fiction and memoir.

At the end of this eight-week course, you’ll emerge with a clearer understanding of Wilder’s contribution to American children’s literature.

Books covered include (Required Material):

  • Little House In The Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0060581808 Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400034
  • Little House On The Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400026
  • On The Banks Of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400042
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life, Pamela Smith Hill, South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 097779556X
  • Recommended Reading:

    • Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Edition, Pamela Smith Hill, South Dakota State Historical Society Press
    • Young Pioneers, Rose Wilder Lane, HarperCollins, 0064406989

Pamela Smith Hill

Instructor

Pamela Smith Hill grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, about 40 miles from Rocky Ridge Farm, where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote Pioneer Girl and her Little House series of books for young readers. Pamela visited the Rocky Ridge farmhouse for the first time when she was 11, and years later, after moving to South Dakota, where five of Wilder’s nine books are set, began writing professionally about Wilder and her work.

Pamela is the author of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life and the editor of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. She is also the author of three young adult novels. She has taught classes in professional and creative writing and children’s literature at universities in Missouri, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Her books have been recognized by the Junior Library Guild, the Oregon Book Awards, Western Writers of America, Women Writing The West, the New York Public Library, the National Indie Excellence Committee, and the Mark Twain Award Committee. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to teach and write.