In Her Words: Inspirational Women from New England History

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How does our past influence contemporary women’s roles and the recurrent national debate about gender? This month Littleton Public Library presents a three-part series exploring the lives of women in New England through living history, storytelling, and book discussion, focusing on women who pushed the boundaries of “traditional” gender roles and expectations. Why do their stories resonate so strongly when gender roles have shifted so dramatically?

The series draws audience members into the lives of New England women of varying circumstances to understand history and culture from their unique perspectives. All programs take place at the Littleton Public Library at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public through a New Hampshire Humanities Community Project Grant. The events are geared toward adults, though the first and second are appropriate for older children, and the third, for teens and up.

Nov. 1: “If I Am Not For Myself, Who Will Be for Me?” George Washington’s Runaway Slave

Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti kicks off the series with her portrayal of Oney Judge Staines, a woman who escaped the confines of slavery and fled to New Hampshire, seeking a life free from oppression. Attendees will explore the interplay of gender and race on cultural expectations and the lasting implications of slavery as well as how women of color are perceived and stereotyped, in opposition to the principles espoused by the Founding Fathers.

Nov. 15: Stories of Strong Women in New England’s History

Jo Radner leads an evening of storytelling that gives voice to stories that are mostly left untold by popular culture, including tales about historical women, both English and Abenaki. Each tale will showcase the ingenuity of these strong women and how they bent the social and cultural expectations placed upon them.

Nov. 29: Gender & and the Cultural Legacy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women

The series concludes with a lecture and discussion by Abby Goode of Plymouth State University about the novel Little Women. What is it about Louisa May Alcott’s classic story that continues to inspire countless adaptations and popular culture references? On the eve of PBS Masterpiece’s 2018 mini-series adaptation, Goode explores the complex gender dynamics, historical context, and social significance of a seemingly timeless tale.

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