Women Writing Women’s Lives Seminar

25th Anniversary Conference

October 2, 2015, 9-6

 CUNY Graduate Center

365 5th Avenue, New York, NY

Free and open to the public.

The conference was taped.  Unfortunately, Deirdre Bair’s keynote address was not recorded, due to a technical order.  Click on the following links to view rest of the conference on YouTube:  Introductory Remarks, Panel 1, Panel 2, and Panel 3. (At times the audio is low and listening with headphones may be helpful.)  Our thanks to  CUNY IT Services for recording the event.

Biography and memoir writing have been transformed by feminist understandings of women in society. Members of the  New York-based Women Writing Women’s Lives Seminar (WWWL) have contributed to these changes, through their many books, for 25 years. Meeting monthly, these writers, scholars, academics, journalists, novelists, and filmmakers discuss their work and explore new ways of telling women’s stories.


Unless otherwise noted, all events are in the Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall on the 1st floor of the Graduate Center.

The Graduate School is having a fire drill at 9:30 on the morning of October 2.  If you are in the Elabash auditorium by that time, you can keep your seat during the fifteen minute drill.  The program will start promptly at 9:30.

9:00-9:30 Morning Coffee in Lobby

9:30-9:45 Introductory Remarks

9:45-11:00 Panel One: Whose Lives?
Subjects considered worthy of biography or memoir are radically different now than a half-century ago. New criteria are emerging to determine which lives count as notable, significant, or valuable for extending knowledge.
Bell Gale Chevigny, Alix Kates Shulman, Diane Jacobs, & Carla L. Peterson

11:15-12:30 Panel Two: Telling the Life Story
In writing about non-traditional subjects, biographers are introducing new questions about domestic life, sexuality, female ambition–as well as new narrative techniques and approaches.
Betty Boyd Caroli, Sallie Bingham, Ruth Franklin, & Gail Levin

12:30-1:45 Lunch Break

1:45-3:00 Panel Three: Sources and Secrets
Obtaining information about non-famous women, whose papers are often hidden among those of men, poses special problems. Given scant written records, must researchers rely on fallible memory? Should some secrets remain secret?
Dorothy O. Helly, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Carla Kaplan, & Marnie Mueller

3:15-4:15 Keynote Talk
“What Chutzpah! The Infinite Mischief of Writing Women’s Lives.”
Deirdre Bair

4:30-6:00 Reception in History Department Lounge, Room 5144