Making Herstory

On November 12, women authors discuss the challenges of writing biographies at “How I Got That Story! Women Writing Women’s Lives.”

What is it about a certain person, period, or cultural moment that grabs a writer’s interest and doesn’t let go for months, years, or sometimes a lifetime? In the case of women who write about women, the answers are many and varied. “I wait for the little bird of inspiration to fly over my head,” says one writer; “I felt a terrible historical wrong had been done to my subject and I wanted to right it,” said another; and still others describe everything from a casual glance at a portrait to the eureka moment of finding a document.

On Tuesday, November 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., stop by the Aniello Bianco Room on the NYC Campus as the Women Writing Women’s Lives Biography Seminar at the Graduate Center of the City University of NY, the Women’s National Book Association-NYC Chapter, and Pace’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences host How I Got That Story: Women Writing Women’s Lives, a panel discussion featuring some of these women’s most fascinating stories and the challenges and methodologies of writing biographies.

Panelists include:

Jean Fagan Yellin—a literary historian specializing in women’s writing with a focus on African-American writers and a Distinguished Professor Emerita of English at Pace. Her book Harriet Jacobs: A Life (2005) discusses the life and work of the author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, for which she won the 2004 Frederick Douglass Prize and the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize. Her two-volume The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers (2008) was awarded the J. Franklin Jameson Prize by the American Historical Association. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for Women and Sisters: The Anti-Slavery Feminists in American Culture (1990)

Nancy Rubin Stuart—author of the recently published Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radical Men They Married (2013). An award-winning author/journalist, Stuart specializes in women’s history, social history, and current social trends, placing the lives of America’s important, often-overlooked women on the historical record. Her earlier books include The Muse of the Revolution (2008); The Reluctant Spiritualist (2005); American Empress (1995); and Isabella of Castile (1991).

Marnie Mueller—a Caucasian woman who was born in a Japanese American segregation camp during WWII. Mueller is currently working on a memoir/biography about her relationship with a Japanese American showgirl who was interned in another camp. She is the author of the novels The Climate of the Country (1999), My Mother’s Island (2002), and Green Fires (1999). Mueller was one of the early Peace Corps volunteers, spending two years in a barrio in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She speaks and writes on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the history of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Diane Jacobs—author of the soon-to-be-published Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters (Spring 2014). Jacobs began as a journalist, writing essays for The New York Times and Film Comment, and has published two books of film criticism: Hollywood Renaissance (1976) and But We Need the Eggs: The Magic of Woody Allen (1982), and two biographies: Christmas In July: The Life And Art of Preston Sturges (1992) and Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft (2001).

Deirdre Bair will moderate the discussion. Bair is the critically acclaimed author of five biographies, including Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography (1991) and Anais Nin: A Biography (1996), both chosen by The New York Times as “Best Books of the Year.” Bair received the National Book Award for Samuel Beckett: A Biography (1990). Her last two books were Calling it Quits: Late-Life Divorce and Starting Over (2007) and the critically acclaimed Saul Steinberg: A Biography (2012) about the celebrated illustrator and cartoonist. She is also a longtime member of the advisory board of the MS in Publishing program at Pace.

RSVP to Light refreshments will be served and book signings will be held after the event.