This keynote presentation will examine the question: "Sara Stanley and Emily Byrd Starr through the Lens of Brené Brown: Do Montgomery's Storytellers Practise Good Story Stewardship?" In Atlas of the Heart (2021), Brown states that for decades she and other researchers have been wrong about empathy, as conventionally understood, as a central tenet of good story stewardship. Revisiting and revising concepts of both empathy and story stewardship –"honoring the sacred nature of story – the ones we share and the ones we hear" – Brown outlines the challenges when telling our own stories on our own terms and avoiding such threats as "performative connection," "narrative takeover," and "narrative tap-out" when listening to and retelling others' stories. Montgomery's novels are full of storytellers, the most captivating being Sara Stanley and Emily Byrd Starr, but do they practise good story stewardship, or are they "reckless" and so, in Brown's estimation, do they "diminish our own humanity"?
Lesley Clement, the previous Visiting Scholar, co-organized the 14th Biennial conference on 2020, "L.M. Montgomery and Vision," and co-edited the "Vision Forum Collection" when the conference transitioned to an online platform due to the pandemic. She has published on visual literacy, empathy, and death in children's literature. Her work on Montgomery appears in Studies in Canadian Literature, L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s), and L.M. Montgomery and Gender. She co-edited L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911-1942 (MQUP 2015) and Global Perspectives on Death in Children's Literature (Routledge 2016). A volume of essays, Children and Childhoods in L.M. Montgomery: Continuing Conversations, co-edited with Rita Bode, Holly Pike, and Margaret Steffler, is forthcoming (MQUP 2022). She is co-editor of the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies for which she is co-editing a collection, "L.M. Montgomery and Vision," with Tara Parmiter, and editing a collection on "L.M. Montgomery and Mental Health."