"Like many left-leaning academics, Anita Clair Fellman, Director of Women’s Studies at Old Dominion University, found Ronald Reagan’s landslide election in 1980 puzzling and troubling. Convinced that modern liberalism reflected the heart and soul of America (at least since Goldwater’s resounding defeat in 1964), feminist scholar Fellman wondered how Reagan’s rhetoric of individualism resonated with so many Americans. Could there have been a strain of individualist, anti-statist political thought lurking in America’s heartland? If so, where did it come from, and how had it been nurtured? In her search for causality, she recalled the endearing series of Little House books written in the 1930s by Laura Ingalls Wilder."

"Fellman argues in her new study Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture that Wilder’s books not only present a version of American pioneer history with an inchoate individualism, but do so intentionally in an effort to inculcate generations of children with a traditionally conservative view of American history. Indeed, the popularity of Wilder’s books and their ubiquitous presence in American homes and schools serve as the major vehicle for the dissemination of what Fellman egregiously terms 'extreme individualism.'"

Read Dedra Birzer's provocative review of Fellman's book here.