During her difficult childhood, Esther Newton recalls that she “became an anti-girl, a girl refusenik, caught between genders,” and that her “child body was a strong and capable instrument stuffed into the word ‘girl.’” Later, in early adulthood, as she was on her way to becoming a trailblazing figure in gay and lesbian studies, she “had already chosen higher education over the strongest passion in my life, my love for women, because the two seemed incompatible.” In My Butch Career Newton tells the compelling, disarming, and at times sexy story of her struggle to write, teach, and find love, all while coming to terms with her identity during a particularly intense time of homophobic persecution in the twentieth century.
At this event, Newton will be reading extracts from her memoir, My Butch Career (2018), that follows the first forty years of her life, attempting to integrate her female masculinity and lesbianism with life in general and her academic career in particular. Trained in elite history and anthropology programs, she yet misspent her youth trying to be straight, then closeted, and did not come out professionally until getting tenure in 1973 at the age of thirty-four. These extracts will deal with topics like a description of being seduced by a femme lesbian as a freshman in college, the relationship between lesbian butches and transmen, her left wing and feminist family history, and the context in which she researched and wrote Mother Camp, the first anthropological ethnography of female impersonators and the gay male world surrounding them and their performances and the difficulties of writing about lesbian sexuality.
Roxana Robinson is the author of ten books – six novels, three collections of short stories, and the biography of Georgia O’Keeffe. Four of these were chosen as New York Times Notable Books , two as New York Times Editors’ Choices. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Best American Short Stories, Tin House and elsewhere. Her work has been widely anthologized and broadcast on NPR.
Date: Tuesday, Sept 24, 2019, Time 7.30pm Location: Faculty Dining Room, Hunter College, West Building, 8th floor (Southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and East 68th Street) RSVP: All readings are free and open to the public. No RSVP required.
Part of the Hunter College Creative Writing MFA Distinguished Writers Series
In telling the stories of three powerful men—Andrew Carnegie, William Randolph Hearst, and Joseph P. Kennedy—David Nasaw discovered that individuals, no matter how rich and politically influential, do not make history by themselves. Nasaw—who is the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Distinguished Professor of History at The Graduate Center—reveals what he learned about the exercise and limits of power, in this year’s annual talk on writing and researching biography. His highly acclaimed and best-selling books include The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy; Andrew Carnegie; and The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst.
The Department of Comparative Literature is happy to announce the event “LGBTQ+: Activism and Literature”, a conversation with Garrard Conley. Conley is the author of “Boy Erased”, a New York Times Bestseller memoir and now a major motion picture. The talk will focus on Conley’s experience as a young gay man in the Southern United States forced to undergo conversion therapy, as well as memoir, transmediality and civil rights. The event will take place on September 20th at 5:00 PM in room 9207 at The Graduate Center. A light reception will follow.
Benjamin Moser was born in Houston. He is the author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book of 2009. For his work bringing Clarice Lispector to international prominence, he received Brazil’s first State Prize for Cultural Diplomacy. He has published translations from French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch. He is a former books columnist for Harper’s Magazine and The New York Times Book Review and has written for The New Yorker, Conde Nast Traveler, and The New York Review of Books. His latest book, Sontag: Her Life and Work, is published by Ecco Press.
Formerly executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography, Brenda Wineapple currently teaches at the CUNY Graduate Center M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir. She is the author of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877, a New York Times “Notable Book;” White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award; Genêt: A Biography of Janet Flanner; Sister Brother Gertrude and Leo Stein; and Hawthorne: A Life, which received the Ambassador Award. Her most recent book is The Impeachers: the Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation.
Eleanor Randolph’s new book, The Many Lives of Michael Bloomberg, offers a revealing portrait of the business innovator, philanthropist, and former New York City mayor who continues to make national headlines. Randolph, a veteran New York Times reporter and editorial writer, who was a Biography Fellow at The Graduate Center, had unprecedented access to the famously private Bloomberg for this biography. She joins in a discussion with Sam Roberts, longtime New York Times columnist and editor and host of the TV program The New York Times Close Up With Sam Roberts.
Amber Scorah, a CUNY Baccalaureate student, speaks about her recently published memoir, Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life (Viking, 2019). A third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, Amber, married to an elder, found herself as a missionary in China where preaching her faith is illegal. Living in an unfamiliar environment, learning a foreign language, and a different culture, unexpectedly, exposed her to a new way of thinking; turning her private life and personal faith upside down. Declared an apostate and losing everything she had ever known and believed, Amber explains in spare, compelling prose how one may start life over to discover personal identity and meaning in the absence of faith.
Moderated by Mohamad Bazzi, a 1997 graduate of CUNY Baccalaureate, who is an associate professor of journalism at New York University. Bazzi was the Middle East bureau chief at Newsday from 2003 to 2007, establishing bureaus in Baghdad and Beirut. A lead reporter on the Iraq war and its aftermath, he has written extensively about regional politics, Sunni-Shiite conflicts, and militant Islam.