FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 13, 2010
Amy Mattson Lauters, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Department of Mass Communications
Minnesota State University, Mankato
LAURAPALOOZA 2010: Legacies — Conference Celebrating Laura Ingalls Wilder hits Minnesota in July
Were you an avid reader of the Little House books? Did a part of you always want to be Laura Ingalls? For the first time ever, both researchers and fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books are convening for a multi-day university-sponsored conference. Sponsored by Minnesota State University, Mankato, “LauraPalooza 2010: Legacies” will celebrate the beloved children’s author on July 15-17, 2010.
This scholarly summit is open to the public and will showcase original research, speakers, and panels related to Laura Ingalls Wilder, her family, her books, the museums dedicated to her, and her impact on American culture. The conference’s first evening will feature an authors’ reception, with writers of Wilder-themed books on hand to talk about their work. Throughout the conference, attendees will enjoy entertainment taken right from the pages of the books, from crafting demonstrations to a “tin pail” lunch to a spelling bee.
Also in the works are appearances by actors from the “Little House on the Prairie” TV show, which was loosely based on the books.
The conference is sponsored in part by the Department of Mass Communications, Mankato, under the direction of faculty member Dr. Amy Mattson Lauters, author of The Rediscovered Writings of Rose Wilder Lane (University of Missouri Press), published in 2007. “We’re thrilled to be able to host this one-of-a-kind event,” says Lauters. “Scholars of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane have long needed a space where they can get together to discuss their work.”
It’s no accident that Mankato was chosen as the setting for this gathering. No other area of the country is as rich in the Laura Ingalls Wilder experience, from her birthplace of Pepin, Wisconsin two hours northeast, to her teenage home of De Smet, South Dakota three hours west. “We want fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder to have the richest experience possible,” says Sandra Hume, one of the conference organizers and a contributor to Beyond Little House (beyondlittlehouse.com), the premier collaborative Laura Ingalls Wilder site on the Internet. “Fans don’t often get the chance to ‘geek out’ with one another. What better place to do that than Laura Ingalls Wilder country?”
Noted Wilder biographers William Anderson, Pamela Smith Hill (Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life, South Dakota State Historical Society Press) and John Miller (Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder, University of Missouri Press), will be speaking.
“I’m delighted to be part of LauraPalooza,” says Hill. “It’s a unique opportunity to celebrate Wilder’s literary heritage in so many different ways.”
Submissions have been arriving in response to a call for academic papers sent out in August 2009 and will continue until the December 15 deadline. Accepted panelists for the conference will be notified on February 7, 2010, Laura’s birthday.
Inexpensive dorm-style housing is available for attendees who want to stay on campus; this housing rate includes all meals courtesy of the university dining hall, as well as a sit-down keynote luncheon and a “tin pail” buffet. For travelers who would rather stay in traditional hotels, a block of rooms has been set aside in local lodging.
After the conference ends on Saturday, attendees will have the option of going on to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, the town Laura called home in the 1870s, which served as the setting for her book On the Banks of Plum Creek. Organizers from The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove are preparing to welcome travelers and provide special activities just for them.
“Having this academic conference in Minnesota provides the perfect opportunity for people who haven’t been to ‘Laura Land,’ as I call it, to actually see the places where Laura walked, and to connect with other people who feel the same way,” says Dr. Lauters.
The conference is being organized by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Board members of the LIWLRA contribute to the web site “Beyond Little House” (www.beyondlittlehouse.com), the premier collaborative Laura Ingalls Wilder site on the Internet, and the Homesteader, the only full-color publication about Laura Ingalls Wilder and all of the museums that honor her (www.homesteadernewsletter.com).
For more information on the conference, visit www.beyondlittlehouse.com or call Dr. Lauters at 507.389.5523.