I am working on a book-length study about the village improvement movement in the United States. As part of this study, I would like to touch on the appearance of civic/village improvement activity in fiction, both adult and children's. For example, adult fiction writer Sinclair Lewis wrote village improvement into two of his novels, largely to characterize heroines struggling to emancipate themselves from Victorian social constraints, and ultimately challenge their communities in some fashion. Other writers who have used village improvement societies as minor descriptive material to contextualize characters’ social position, morals, ideals and activity include American author Zona Gale (Friendship Village Love Stories), Canadian children's author L.M. Montgomery (Avonlea), and Gene Stratton-Porter (A Daughter of the Land).
I wondered if folks on this list-serve might have suggestions for other authors to look at or any scholarly studies of civic organizing in youth and adult literature. I am also interested in co-authoring an article or conference paper on this topic if this stuff is up your alley. There seems to be a wealth of fascinating material out there.
Kirin Makker, Associate Professor of Architectural Studies, Hobart William Smith College