One of the Most “Splendid” and “Interesting” Conferences You’ll Ever Attend
By Bonnie Tulloch,
PhD Candidate and Vanier Scholar,
School of information, University of British Columbia
One of my favourite quotes in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables appears in the opening pages of the novel. Driving home to Green Gables for the first time, Anne reflects to Matthew: “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world” (Montgomery 18).
This quote appeals to me for many reasons, the main being that it invites readers to share in the joy of learning that characterizes the human experience. Yes, there are many things in life that we do not know and cannot understand. And yes, it is easy to be intimidated by this fact and cling to the comfort of what we already know. But, as Anne points out, there is another (and I think better) option.
Instead of being intimidated by all of the things there are to find out about, we can let them make us feel glad to be alive.
And that is what the Biennial L.M. Montgomery Conference makes me feel—glad to be alive.
Montgomery’s stories, you see, are “interesting” stories. No matter how many times you read them, there are always new things to find out. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that Montgomery’s readers are also interesting. Like her iconic characters, they possess an enthusiasm for learning that has the incredible capacity to inspire new avenues of thought. Engaging with this exuberant community of fans, experts, collectors, and scholars never fails to delight. Their imaginations are as ambitious as Anne’s, and this ambition is contagious. The questions they raise keep one’s mind and one’s heart “glittering higher” (Montgomery 333).
Hearing their thought-provoking presentations, I am reminded of the time that has passed since Montgomery wrote her novels. They serve as powerful reminders of the cultural changes that have occurred in the last hundred or so years. Ideologically speaking, the world has undergone some “prun[ing]” (Montgomery 326). The road that has brought Montgomery’s work to us and continues to bring Montgomery’s work to us is full of many “bend[s]", most of them in our minds(Montgomery 364). Reflecting on the journey, it’s easy to see signs of progress and signs of regression. Moving forward is always a difficult process. And yet, as Montgomery’s stories show us, it is easier to manage together.
And that’s what this conference does. It reminds us that we need community. We all have an interesting contribution to make to this world. We all are living our own personal stories of transformation and self-discovery. The time we share gives us a sense of connection to the past, present, and future, but most importantly, it gives us a sense of connection to each other. The visions Montgomery’s work inspires in us have the capacity to inspire someone else. The island of kindred spirits is as real as the people sitting next to you. And what a privilege it is to be alive with them!
As the 2020 L.M. Montgomery and Vision Conference approaches, it is splendid to think of all of the wonderful people I have yet to meet and the ideas we will share. I truly hope to see you there! The thought alone makes me really glad.
Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables. Tundra, 2014. (Originally published in 1908)
Bonnie Tulloch is a doctoral candidate and 2018 Vanier Scholar in the School of Information at the University of British Columbia. She is the inaugural recipient of the Elizabeth R. Epperly Award for Outstanding Early Career Paper. Her research interests include young people’s literature/ media, island fiction, nonsense verse, and critical literacy. She has several forthcoming Montgomery-related articles that have been accepted by editors for publication.