The Women Writing Women’s Lives Biography Seminar, based in the New York metropolitan area, includes approximately seventy members engaged in writing book-length biographies and memoirs. The group first began meeting in 1990 and represents a wide range of feminist perspectives and a variety of professional backgrounds. Our members include academics, independent scholars, and journalists. Membership dues help support our operating expenses. Women Writing Women’s Lives is under the aegis of the Center for the Study of Women and Society and the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. For general inquiries, contact Barbara McManus.
Mission and Objectives
The places, cultures, and communities in which women live their lives change, as do women’s roles, status, interests, and opportunities. Our purpose as a group is to identify these changes, understand their impact, and explain and portray the complex realities of women’s lives. In researching and writing biographies of women, we hope to call attention to the reciprocal dynamics between our subjects and society, find new ways of looking at and presenting women’s stories, and ultimately influence the way women’s stories are perceived and written.
To encourage members’ projects, the Women Writing Women’s Lives Biography Seminar offers a forum in which to discuss approaches, methods, and themes. The seminar meets monthly, from October to May, to present work for discussion, share ideas, and hear about the work of outside presenters. Membership in the seminar is limited and by application only (select the Members tab to see the current list of members and their projects); the seminar also maintains a members-only listserv. Two seminar members have created a webpage of Internet Resources for US and UK Biographers, Barbara McManus for the United States and Sally Mitchell for Britain.
The Steering Committee of WWWL welcomes applications for membership. We hold membership to seventy members living in the New York metropolitan area who are writing or have published biographical works about women or memoirs relating to the lives of women. WWWL maintains a waiting list when our roster of members is full. We consider membership applications at Steering Committee meetings. Qualified prospective members are cordially invited to email Jill Norgren and ask to attend one session as a guest. Then, if interested, send Jill an application via email within three months of attending as a guest. Please include your name and contact information along with a few informal paragraphs telling us something about yourself, what if anything you have published that is relevant to the subject of this seminar such as biography or memoir, what your current project is, why you want to join WWWL, and also what you believe you would contribute to WWWL.
A Letter of Agreement between the Women Writing Women’s Lives Biography Seminar and the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University, executed on January 30. 2004, places the organizational papers of WWWL in this library, adding to their existing holdings; an online finding aid for the WWWL archives is now available. The Archives Committee of WWWL anticipates that Tamiment will become a significant woman’s history archive that will be used by researchers concerned with the history of women’s individual and organizational activities, not only nationally and internationally, but with particular attention to women’s efforts in the New York Metropolitan area.Barbara F. McManus (Web Manager)