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Dorothy O. Helly Lectures

Dorothy O. Helly at a WWWL seminar meeting. Credit: Dee Shapiro.

The biannual Dorothy O. Helly Works in Progress lecture series is named in honor of Dorothy O. Helly, Professor Emireta of history and women studies at Hunter College and invaluable member of the WWWL Steering Committee. The lectures, usually held in October and March, offer a member of the seminar the opportunity to discuss her ongoing work on a biography or a memoir. The lectures are open to the public and cosponsored with The Leon Levy Center for Biography, CUNY Graduate Center’s 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.

Fall 2019 Lecture

Monday Oct. 21, 4-5:30. CUNY Graduate Center, Room 9204/9205

Janet Nimura will speak on her dual biography (forthcoming from W.W. Norton in 2021) of the groundbreaking sister doctors, Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell who In 1857 opened a hospital under the name of New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children on Bleecker Street in Manhattan.

Janice P. Nimura is the author of  the highly acclaimed Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back, a 2015 New York Times Notable Book, described by the Times as a “Beautifully written…deftly interwoven account, (in which) the three girls emerge as contrasting types, like Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters.’” She received a 2017 Public Scholar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the current book in-progress.

The event is co-sponsored with The Leon Levy Center for Bibliography, CUNY Graduate Center’s 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.

Past Helly Lectures

  • Barbara Gray on “Queen of the Underworld: the Story of Sophie Lyons, American’s Most Notorious Con Woman.” (March 18, 2019).
  • Alix Kates Shulman and Honor Moore on editing Writing the Women’s Movement: American Feminism 1963-1991 (October 15, 2018).
  • Heather Clark on Sylvia Plath and her biographers (March 19, 2018).
  • Deirdre Bair on her memoir-in progress about working on her biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir. (October 16, 2017).
  • Carla Kaplan  on her biography “Something to Offend Everyone: The Muckracking Life and Times of Jessica Mitford.” (March 20, 2017).
  • Julia van Haaften on Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography  (October 17, 2017).
  • Ruth Franklin on Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (March 14, 2017).
  • Kate Culkin on her dual biography of Ellen Tucker Emerson and Edith Emerson Forbes (March 9, 2015).
  • Patricia Auspos on  “Combining Marriage and Career 100 Years Ago: Five Pioneering Women and the Men They Married” (October 20, 2014)
  • Barbara F. McManus on “Grace Harriet Macurdy (1866-1946): Pioneering Feminist Scholar” (March 14, 2014).
  • Betty Boyd Caroli on “Lady Bird Johnson and the Kennedy Assassination” (October 21, 2013).  The lecture can be seen on the  C-Span website
  • Patricia Laurence on the role of place in her biography of the Ango-Irish novelist, Elizabeth Bowen (March 11, 2013).
  • Diane Jacobs on The Lives of Abigail Adams and Her Sisters: Threefold Cord (Nov. 26, 2017. Moved from October 29, due to Hurricane Sandy).
  • Patricia Valenti on the second volume of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne: A Life  (February 27, 2012). (Note: this was the first official Dorothy O. Helly lecture. Prior to this, the series was simply named Works in Progress).
  • Dona Munker on “Sara Bard Field, Poet and Radical Suffragist: Parsing the Heart,”  (October 11, 2011).
  • Nancy Rubin Stuart on “Defiant Brides of the American Revolution: Peggy Shippen Arnold, Wife of Benedict Arnold, and Lucy Flucker Knox, Wife of Henry Knox” (April 1, 2011).
  • Dorothy O. Helly on “Flora Shaw, First Woman Journalist for the London Times: Breaking Barriers, Advocating Empire” (Nov. 8, 2010).