Bucknell University and Lycoming College collaborate to present bestselling author talks

Kelsey Werkheiser, News Co-Editor

New York Times bestselling author Ann Leary will lecture at both Bucknell University and Lycoming College about her book, “The Foundling,” a historical fiction novel based on the Laurelton Village for Feeble-Minded Girls and Women of Childbearing Age in Union County, Pa.

Bucknell will host Leary on March 7 at 7 p.m. in Bucknell Hall. Lycoming will host her on March 8 at 7 p.m. in the Trogner Presentation Room in the Krapf Gateway Center. 

These events are free and open to the public, and copies of “The Foundling” will be available for purchase.

The Laurelton Village for Feeble-Minded Girls and Women of Childbearing Age, opened in 1917, was used to segregate and care for “feeble-minded” women aged 16 to 45. The facility’s principles were rooted in eugenics as well as the premise that one’s intellect or mental deficiency is hereditary. It was believed that the segregation of those individuals was crucial to ensure they did not reproduce and pass down those genetics.

In addition to speaking about her book, Leary will address the research that she did on the institution itself and its historical significance and answer attendee questions during a Q&A period.

“Through my own historical research on the State Industrial Home for Muncy, I became aware of the connections between the real superintendent of Laurelton, Dr. Mary Wolfe, and Bucknell University,” Kerry Richmond, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Lycoming College and chair of the department, said. “With Ann planning to visit the area, it seemed like a great opportunity for her to also speak at Bucknell, which is coincidentally the alma mater of both of her parents. Both institutions are thrilled to have the opportunity to host such a celebrated author, and one that has researched and written about a topic that is relevant to such a broad range of our academic programs.”

“‘The Foundling’ brings to light the complex interconnectedness of science, gender norms and politics in the early 20th century,” Erica Delsandro, Assistant Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at Bucknell, said. “Ann’s research into the history of Laurelton Village brings this history home. We are eager to host Ann’s return to the area and look forward to conversations that will emerge from her visit.”

Leary is a New York Times bestselling author of a memoir and four novels, including “The Good House.” Her work has been translated into 18 languages, and she has written for “The New York Times,” “Ploughshares,” “NPR,” “Redbook” and “Real Simple,” among other publications. Her essay, “Rallying to Keep the Game Alive,” was adapted for Prime Video’s television series, “Modern Love.” She lives with her husband, actor Denis Leary, in New York.

The talk at Bucknell is sponsored by the departments of Women’s & Gender Studies, History, Sociology & Anthropology and Psychology, as well as the University Lectureship Committee and Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts.

The March 8 talk at Lycoming is sponsored by the departments of Criminal Justice-Criminology, English, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, History and Anthropology-Sociology as well as the College’s Humanities Research Center.

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