11/12 – Lawrence Weschler on Oliver Sacks: In Conversation with Laura J. Snyder and Kai Bird

Lawrence Weschler’s And How Are You, Dr. Sacks? is a biographical memoir of his 35-year friendship with the late neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks. Upon its publication, Weschler joins in a discussion about “the poet laureate of medicine” (The New York Times) with Laura J. Snyder (author of Eye of the Beholder), who, as the first Sloan/Levy Fellow, is working on a biography of Sacks, and Kai Bird, executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography. Weschler’s many books include Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder. Reserve here.
Tue, November 12, 2019 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM EST
Elebash Recital Hall
Presented by the Leon Levy Center for Biography.

3/5 – save the date: Guy Beiner on Is it Possible to Write a History of Forgetting?

Guy Beiner is professor of modern history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and is currently the Burns Scholar in Irish Studies at Boston College. His publications on remembering and forgetting in modern Ireland include Remembering the Year of the French: Irish Folk History and Social Memory (University of Wisconsin Press) and Forgetful Remembrance: Social Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster (Oxford University Press).​ Is it Possible to Write a History of Forgetting? While memory studies regularly acknowledge the significance of forgetting, the pursuit of the historical study of forgetting poses conceptual and methodological problems. In suggesting directions to address this challenge, the talk will introduce a concept of ‘social forgetting’ that pivots on tensions between silences in the public sphere and the persistence of obscured recollections in more private and local arenas. It will demonstrate how vestiges of social forgetting can be uncovered and charted over time through the examination of the less-conventional sources of ‘vernacular historiography’. The arguments will be clarified with reference to an in-depth case study of repeated attempts by communities in Northern Ireland to surpress, for over two centuries, memories of troublesome events in the past that do not sit well with present-day identity politics. March 5th at 6:30 pm Skylight Room (9th floor) Please RSVP to history@gc.cuny.edu
Co-Sponsored by  the M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir,  the PhD Program in History,and the Irish Studies Program  at Queens College

“Getting the Best Recording (within your budget) for your Interview” – written by GC Digital Fellow Di Yoong

With permission granted, I highly recommend this article from GC Digital Fellow  Di Yoong: "Getting the Best Recording (within your budget) for your Interview" Here's a highlight  – "should you decide that you are interested in trying out a dedicated digital recorder, the Graduate Center library offers TASCAM audio recorders to loan for use. As of now (Oct 2019) GC students and alumni are welcome to” borrow them. Enjoy! Brought to you by Marilyn Weber, Academic Program Coordinator for the M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir    

22-24 January: 3-Day Intensive on Documentary Film-making and Visual Storytelling for Researchers

This intensive three-day workshop, facilitated by Dr. Rachel Eskin Fisher, will help you explore the potential of documentary storytelling for sharing your work with the world. Making a documentary film is not simply a matter of adding pictures to your words. Rather, it requires a visual way of thinking that most academics are not accustomed to, and a storytelling structure that differs from academic persuasion in essential ways. Spend some time immersed in another way of thinking and communicating that opens new opportunities for sharing your work. Participants will emerge from the workshop with a rough draft of a documentary pitch and a broad overview of the documentary film-making process. Participants will:
  • Experience a mindset shift from “telling” to “showing”
  • Explore the storytelling opportunities in your subject matter
  • Get an introductory step-by-step overview of how to make a documentary film
  • Practice a writing style suited to film pitches
The workshop will consist of hands-on exercises, presentations by Dr. Fisher (including film clips), group discussion, and feedback from Dr. Fisher and from peers. Rachel Eskin Fisher is the co-producer and co-director of the documentary film Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent. She also co-produced Remembering Oswiecim, a short film that was featured at the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Poland, and she has produced several trailers. She has written four screenplays, two of which have been optioned. She holds a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Registration is capped at 15 people, sign up at this link. Sponsored by the PublicsLab

Bridgett Davis on “The Numbers”

Listen to Bridgett Davis, author of The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers.e interviews on a recent podcast on The Criminal. Professor Davis teaches at Baruch College and will teach a course for BAM in Fall 2020. Here's a desciption for the podcast: When Fannie Davis and her family moved to Detroit in the mid-1950s, they hadn’t prepared themselves for how hard it would be. They had trouble finding steady work. So, Fannie found a way to take care of her family. She started small, but built a robust and lucrative operation… a business that a lot of people knew about but no one talked about.  

11/8 – James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal

In a feat of remarkable research and timely reclamation, Eric K. Washington uncovers the nearly forgotten life of James H. Williams (1878–1948), the chief porter of Grand Central Terminal’s Red Caps ― a multitude of Harlem-based black men whom he organized into the essential labor force of America’s most august railroad station. Washington reveals that despite the deeply racialized and often exploitative nature of the work, the Red Cap was a highly coveted job for college-bound black men determined to join New York’s bourgeoning middle class. Examining the deeply intertwined subjects of class, labor, and African American history, Washington chronicles Williams’s life, showing how the enterprising son of freed slaves successfully navigated the segregated world of the northern metropolis, and in so doing ultimately achieved financial and social influence. With this biography, Williams must now be considered, along with Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jacqueline Onassis, one of the great heroes of Grand Central’s storied past.

RSVP here.

  • Friday, November 8, 2019
  • 6:30 PM -  8:00 PM

Presented by the Gotham Center for New York City History, with the Leon Levy Center for Biography.

11/6 – Edmund Morris Tribute

  Patricia Bosworth, Sylvia Jukes Morris, Kai Bird, Sylvia Nasar, Robert Loomis and Leonard de Graaf Wednesday, November 6  |  6:30 – 8 PM  |  Proshansky Auditorium Reserve here   Join us on for a tribute to the late Edmund Morris, esteemed biographer of Edison, published Random House and called “…a tour de force by a master” by Kirkus. Morris is also the author of the controversial Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan, and the trilogy biographies of Theodore Roosevelt: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize), Theodore Rex, and Colonel Roosevelt.   The evening will begin with opening remarks from Kai Bird, Executive Director and Distinguished Lecturer of CUNY’s Graduate Center’s Leon Levy Center for Biography. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Bird is currently writing a biography on President Jimmy Carter.   He will introduce the panel, who will discuss Morris, his life and works; but the main focus will be on Edison:
  • Moderator Patricia Bosworth, Vanity Fair Contributing Editor and author of eight biographies including the upcoming Protest Song, the story of Paul Robeson vs. J. Edgar Hoover.
  • Sylvia Jukes Morris, who was married to Morris for over 50 years, and is the author of the two-volume biography, Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Booth and Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Booth Luce.
  • Robert Loomis, renowned Random House Editor who edited all of Morris’s books and whose stable of authors include Maya Angelou, William Styron, Shelby Foote, and Stacy Schiff.
  • Leonard de Graaf, Head Archivist at the Thomas Edison National Park, and author of Edison and the Rise of Innovation.
  • Sylvia Nasar was an economics correspondent for the New York Times and held the Knight professorship at the Columbia Journalism School. She is the author of A Beautiful Mind and Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius. She is currently working on Fellow Countrymen about six men and women in the West who colluded with the Soviets in the 1930s and 1940s.

11/5 – Mira Jacob at Hunter College

Mira Jacob is the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Her critically acclaimed novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancingwas a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Literature Award, and longlisted for the Brooklyn Literary Eagles Prize. It was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, Goodreads, Bustle, and The Millions. Date: Tuesday, Nov. 5, 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