Today we are profiling our second consulting editor, Dr. Jean Mitchell.
Dr. Jean Mitchell is a force of nature in L.M. Montgomery Studies, on the L.M. Montgomery Institute steering committee, and at the University of Prince Edward Island where she is the Chair of the Anthropology and Sociology department as well as an Associate Professor of Anthropology. Jean has made significant contributions to Montgomery research and is the co-editor of Anne Around the World and L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s), winner of the 2019 Gabrielle Roy Prize for best work in Canadian literary criticism. Jean offers two important lenses through which to understand the author. Like Montgomery, Jean's history is rooted in Prince Edward Island's north shore, and she offers a contextualized, deeply felt understanding of that world; in a field primarily occupied by literary critics, historians, and librarians, Jean's anthropology perspective is very welcome (as is her mentoring of anthropology students new to L.M. Montgomery studies!). Jean's Montgomery research, including her 2018 LMMI conference presentation on Presbyterian missionary culture and reading practices, intersects with her anthropological work in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu where such missionary practices have long lasting influence.
Thanks, Jean, for sharing your expertise and enthusiasm for Montgomery research with us. We are excited and deeply grateful to have Dr. Jean Mitchell, alongside Dr. Laura Robinson, as one of our consulting editors!
1. You are well known in L.M. Montgomery studies. What aspect of your relationship with Montgomery would members of the community not know about?
Jean: Montgomery has been a constant companion during my years of traveling and living around the world. For example, I worked for more than five years in India with UNICEF planning and implementing programs for children and women. When the work was overwhelming, reading Montgomery’s novels offered solace, good company, and a connection to my home in Prince Edward Island.
2. How would you describe your position as consulting editor?
Jean: The editors of the journal are amazingly capable but, as I see it, the consulting editor provides another source of assistance and advice when needed. The position is new, so let’s see how it unfolds!
3. What excites you about being a consulting editor with the journal?
Jean: The creation of the open access journal is a vital development in Montgomery scholarship. It took an enormous amount of energy and care on the part of the editors to create the journal. While editing and co-editing essay collections, I realized that there are many excellent scholars who do not find a place in edited volumes. Creating new spaces for Montgomery scholarship that embrace both conventional and innovative scholarship is the most exciting aspect of this journal.
4. What would like to see the journal contribute to L.M. Montgomery studies?
Jean: It is exciting to see a venue for Montgomery scholarship that encompasses a range of creative and scholarly work. The journal extends the aesthetic possibilities and stimulates new and transdisciplinary approaches to Montgomery and her work.
5. Where do you see Montgomery studies in 50 years?
Jean: There are mysteries and multiplicities embedded in Montgomery’s novels, journals, and short stories that will keep fans and scholars pondering even in 2070! With the Anthropocene, the desire to explore alternative ways of being, becoming, and belonging will be informed by Montgomery’s expansive thinking.
6. Which work would you most like to see adapted and what medium would you like to see it adapted to?
Jean: An animated film of Rainbow Valley capturing the alternative universe crafted by children that features play, moral complexity, and agency. Even the novel’s ominous ending with Walter’s turn to myth suggests many possibilities.
While Pat of Silver Bush would make an interesting play, a film might even be better for the drama of the inferno and Judy’s dialogue.
7. Most interesting place you've been when reading L.M. Montgomery?
Jean: Hard to choose. But, I would have to say reading the Emily books in Erromango, an island in the South of Vanuatu where James Gordon, a Prince Edward Island Presbyterian Missionary was killed in 1872.
Acknowledgement: Banner photo supplied by Dr. Jean Mitchell.