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Room C197 – 4:00-5:30 p.m.
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Beyond “The Lottery”: The Life of Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s 1948 story “The Lottery,” about a deadly ritual in a quiet American village, generated more letters from readers than any other short story in the history of The New Yorker, and has been a mainstay of anthologies ever since. Yet her body of work — which includes six psychologically complex novels as well as dozens of short stories — has been largely excluded from the canon of twentieth-century American literature. In her forthcoming biography, Ruth Franklin explores the development of Jackson’s fiction alongside her turbulent marriage to the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman and their bustling household of four children. Jackson’s story encapsulates the dilemma faced by many midcentury American women: the desire to be at once a mother and an artist, to enjoy a rich family life while preserving space for the life of the mind.
Ruth Franklin is a book critic whose work appears frequently in Harper’s, The New Yorker, and other publications. Her first book, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. Her biography of Shirley Jackson will be published this September.
Co-sponsored with the Women and Gender Studies Certificate Program, the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the Center for the Humanities, the CUNY Graduate Center Ph.D. Programs in English and History, the M.A. Program in Liberal Studies, and the Feminist Press at CUNY.