Biographies of the Esteemed Presenters


Cathlin first read Little Women when she was 11 years old, and she hasn't stopped reading Alcott since. She received her BA in English from Oberlin College, and her MA and PhD in Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cathlin’s specialty is Alcott’s juvenile fiction, and she is currently at work on an anthology of Alcott’s short stories which will bring to modern readers many tales not published in over a century. Her concordant passion is assisting educators and students in understanding how to use historical materials to learn about the past; this is her fourth year participating in our Summer Series and Teacher Institute.

Professor of American Literature, Emeritus, at Villanova University, Sterling received a BS from Villanova University, MA from Northeastern University, and PhD from Southern Illinois University. His recent book, Brook Farm: The Dark Side of Utopia, is considered to be the definitive study of this celebrated Transcendental community, while his earlier work, The Harbinger and New England Transcendentalism: A Portrait of Associationism in America, was the first comprehensive scholarly account of the journal that was the official organ of Associationism and Fourierism in 1840s America, as well as a major forum for Transcendentalist writers. He was a recipient of the “Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching,” and is currently involved in the second year of a National Endowment for the Humanities funded workshop, “Concord, Massachusetts: Transcendentalism & Social Action in the 19th Century.”

A Professor of History and Women’s Studies, Sarah read Little Women as a young girl in the post-World War II era, and re-read it as a graduate student at Cornell University. This led not only to her dissertation, but her seminal work, A Hunger for Home: Louisa May Alcott’s Place in American Culture. Sarah has authored/edited three books and numerous articles on Alcott and other 19th Century women authors, and has maintained a strong interest in researching rural women’s lives, the history of women’s education, and the nature of sex and race relations. She is a frequent presenter at our Summer Conversational Series.

Keith received his Bachelors of Music at the University of Oregon, and Masters of Music at the New England Conservatory. He has also studied composition and conducting, and was winner of the Steinway Society Piano Competition and the John Cage Award, among numerous other awards. Keith has played in many of the largest cities in the U.S., as well as major cities throughout Italy and The Netherlands. Although only 27 years old, he has already premiered over 100 new works and commissioned nearly a dozen compositions. Co-founder of the composer’s ensemble “Siren Agenda,” Keith also performs regularly with the Callithumpian Consort, Boston’s premier modern music ensemble, and is soon set to release his first solo CD featuring the piano music of Frederic Rzewski.

An Associate Professor of English and litigation attorney in New York City, John received his BA in History from Princeton, PhD in English from Columbia, and his law degree from Harvard. John currently teaches literature and legal writing, and has published articles and book chapters on a variety of 19th Century Americans, including Herman Melville, William James, and Louisa May Alcott. His first book, Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, published in August of 2007, has just won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Biography! He is currently at work on a new book tentatively entitled The Lives of Margaret Fuller. This is John’s third year participating in our Summer Series.

Currently a doctoral candidate and teaching assistant in the American Studies Department at SUNY-Buffalo, Evelyn received her BA in English, and two Master’s degrees (English and Women’s Studies) from the University of Cincinnati. She has taught courses in composition, literature, and women’s studies, and has presented on such topics as “Seduction and Captivity in the Work of Louise Erdrich” at the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, and “The Violent White Woman Captive: A Consideration of Hannah Dustan in the Atlantic World” at the Southwest Texas PCA, and published “The American International Adoptee as Subaltern Subject” in Gender Studies (2004).


       Nancy Porter
has produced and directed numerous documentaries for PBS for over 25 years, first as a producer at WGBH-TV Boston, and for the last 12 years as the owner of her own production company. She was Executive Producer of Something Personal, a PBS series of films by and about women, and has produced such highly regarded projects as documentaries on John Irving, E. L. Doctorow, Amelia Earhart, The Wright Brothers, Richard Byrd, Houdini, and “Typhoid Mary,” in addition to several NOVA productions. Nancy has won numerous awards, including a national Emmy, American Film Festival Blue Ribbon, three Cine Gold Eagle Awards, and was the first recipient of the Women in Film and Video New England Image Award for Vision and Excellence.
        Harriet Reisen has worked extensively in public/commercial/cable television, radio, audio-visual presentations print, and audio; directed, produced, and developed new programs; and written documentary, comedy, drama, non-fiction, magazine journalism, radio commentary, radio documentary, film criticism, children's books, and songs. Harriet taught screenwriting at the Boston Film and Video Foundation and at Harvard Summer School, and was a Fellow in Screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. She wrote narration and scripts for HBO's “Fire at the Cocoanut Grove” and “The Wall Street Crash,” as well as WGBH's “New England Begins,” and co-produced “Blacklisted,” a three-hour radio drama. Harriet is founder and President Emeritus of New England Women in Film and Video, and has also published several articles about Mexico.

Although Wendall received his MS in Statistics from the University of Connecticut and has a “day job” with a Boston-area biotech firm, he is, at heart, a historian and re-enactor who has studied and taught the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson for the past decade. His courses provide insight into the inspiring idealism of Emerson’s great essays, speeches, and sermons, including “Self-Reliance,” “The American Scholar,” and “The Fugitive Slave Law Address.” Wendall was selected as a panelist for the 2001 Emerson Society meeting, and began historical re-enactments in southern New England following the 2003 Emerson Bicentennial. He is a Life Member of the Emerson Society, and is serving on its Board for the 2007-09 term.

A Superadjunct professor teaching literature and composition at Pensacola Junior College, Debra received her BS from Pensacola Christian College, MA from Westfield State College, and PhD from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award, Debra is a frequent presenter at conferences on Alcott, Hawthorne, and Tolkien, and is a published reviewer in The American Tradition in Literature, Volume Two, 12th edition, and in Sentences, Paragraphs, and Beyond With Integrated Readings, 5th edition.

D. Michael attended the U.S. Military Academy, served in Vietnam, and was awarded two Bronze Stars for Valor, along with numerous other commendations. He received a BA in History and an MA in Higher Education Administration, and was employed for nearly 30 years as Associate Dean of Students at Boston College. D. Michael has just recently begun working full-time at the National Park Service. An 18th Century re-enactor for over 30 years, he has also published nearly 100 articles on Revolutionary War history, higher education law, and judicial affairs. An expert 18th Century musician, D. Michael is a member of several re-enacting companies and musical troupes, and has portrays eight different 18th Century historical figures, as well as A. Bronson Alcott.

Associate Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Emmanuel, and also on the faculty of Boston College’s Wood College of Advancing Studies, Lisa received her BA and MA from Boston College, and PhD from the University of New Hampshire. Her dissertation, There is No School Like the Family School: Literacy, Motherteaching, and the Alcott Family, underscores her specialization in literacy, family, and education. Lisa has presented at numerous workshops and educational series, including past Summer Conversational Series, American Literature Association sessions, and the recent Girl Sleuths Conference. She is currently at work on her first book.

A Professor of English at Gordon College since 1968, Peter received his BA from Asbury College, MA from Northwestern, and PhD from Michigan State, and taught at Wheaton College in the mid-1960s. He also served as pastor at three different churches from 1974 to 2000. In addition to his prodigious output of scholarly publications, Peter also performs monologues of historical Christians such as Adoniram Judson, Daniel Sharpe Ford, and William Carey for mission conferences and churches, and heartily enjoys doing dramatic stage readings of such works as The Chronicles of Narnia and “The Christmas Story.”

Tracy Wall’s involvement with costumes began in 1990 when she went to her first Civil War re-enactment. She then started sewing and has since participated in many other Civil War, Regency, and Revolutionary War events. Interestingly enough, while Tracy’s BA is in American Studies, the focus of her senior thesis was on the demise of the corset! Her first theater costuming experience was in 2002 with Concord Players’ decennial production of Little Women. Since then, she has designed costumes for Town Cow’s opening production of Timon of Athens and Concord Players’ 2007 production of She Loves Me, and has assisted on numerous others. Tracy has also worked on a BBC/Granada documentary, as well as other independent productions.

In addition to being an Adjunct Professor in the Public History Graduate Program at SUNY-Albany, Patricia is Co-Director of its Center for Applied Historical Research, and a Curator for the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook, NY. She received her PhD from SUNY-Binghamton, and is the author of Domesticating History: The Political Origins of American’s Historic House Museums, which utilized Orchard House as one of the case studies. Patricia has worked in the museum field since 1978, and participates in numerous Public History and Museum Studies conferences.

Schedule for the series

Full informational packet with registration form (pdf format)


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