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 Dorothy O. Helly Works-in-Progress Spring 2019 Lecture

Monday, March 18, 2019, 4:00-5:30 PM

CUNY Graduate Center,  365 5th Avenue, Rooms 9204/205

Queen of the Underworld: the story of Sophie Lyons, America’s most notorious con woman

Barbara Gray will talk about her biography of Sophie Lyons, a notorious nineteenth-century American pickpocket, blackmailer, con woman, and bank burglar, turned twentieth-century reformer and philanthropist. She will focus on the challenges of working with the autobiography of a professional liar as source material, and how she has winnowed Sophie’s life of dishonesty and spectacle to identify what drove her to succeed in a man’s profession, achieve power, and find a voice to legitimately challenge society’s conventions of womanhood, sexuality, and criminality. She will emphasize why it is important to hear the stories of criminal women in history.

Gray is Chief Librarian and Associate Professor at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she teaches newsgatheringresearch methods. She is the former director of news research at The New York Times. Gray was one of twenty new biographers chosen to attend the first Biography Clinic in 2013 at the Leon Levy Center for Biography. Her 2014 Master’s thesis was a co-winner of the 2015 MALSthesis prize at CUNY Graduate Center and was awarded a PSC-CUNY Faculty Research Award in 2016.

Co-sponsored with the Leon Levy Center for Biography, Graduate Center, CUNY, PhD Programs in History and English, MA Program in Liberal Studies, MA Program in Women’s and Gender Studies, The Center for the Humanities and The Feminist Press

This event will be held at the Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue (34th Street).  It is free and open to the public.

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