Dead Ladies Show NYC #16 – Zoom edition!

The sixteenth edition of DLS NYC is upon us! Tuesday, April 7, from 7–9pm, though we won’t meet in the Red Room this time, given the pandemic; we’re meeting on Zoom. We hear it’s hip to meet online these days! 😉

In April, join EMILY KNAPP, ELIZA ROCKEFELLER, and HALL ROCKEFELLER to learn about a colossal Jewish-American literary figure, a Celtic warrior queen, and a revolutionary prison-reform advocate. Presented, respectively, by a museum director-slash-historian, a classicist passionate about very dead ladies, and a director-slash-arts activist.

Free admission, and an ~*important note!*~ If you can, you’re welcome and encouraged to donate what you would have paid for a drink or two to the KGB Bar/Red Room, which has been affected by NYC’s mandated business closures and has been hit hard financially. They are distributing 30% of all donations directly to employees. Alternatively, you can buy drink tickets to use when the bar reopens (whenever normal life returns, blessed be the day!)—just specify “drink tickets for DLS” in your donation note.

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EMMA LAZARUS, though now most famous for her poem “The New Colossus,” an excerpt of which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, was both a consequential literary figure and activist for Jewish causes. She spoke out against anti-Semitism and waves of pogroms. In her short 38 years, she produced some of the most recognized and relevant prose of the 20th century.

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BOUDICCA (aka Boudica, Boudicea, or Boadicea) is perhaps one of the least popularized revolt leaders in Roman history. Celtic queen of the Iceni people in the 1st century CE, Boudicca led a deleterious revolt against the Roman Empire—yes, that Roman Empire—in the year 60/61 CE. Her story has been primarily bequeathed to us by two distinctly male and Roman voices (Tacitus and Cassius Dio), neither of whom were present during the revolt. The intense inherent bias of her biographers notwithstanding, she was a fierce warrior, who fought to protect her lands and people from the tight grasp of Roman rule.

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ELIZABETH FRY earned her place on the British £5 note through her revolutionary prison reform advocacy and activism in the early 19th century. She kept extensive and revealing diaries throughout her life, but her best known writing came in the form of an exposé-style book entitled Prisons in Scotland and the North of England. Fry invited members of the British nobility to spend nights with her in prison to reveal the conditions and encourage political action and founded the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate.

About your presenters:

ANNIE POLLAND is the director of the American Jewish Historical Society in New York and co-author of Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration.

CAROLINE KNAPP is a lover of the ancient world, languages, and ice cream. Unlike Boudicca, she has not spearheaded a revolt against an invading foreign army to protect her beloved homeland…yet…

LEIA SQUILLACE is a Virginia-born, Brooklyn-based theatre director, arts activist, criminal justice reform advocate, and baker.

Podcast #31: Alexandra Kollontai

Welcome to episode 31, in which Dead Ladies Show co-founder Katy Derbyshire talks about Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai. She was present at the Copenhagen Second Congress of Socialist Women in 1910, where she voted for the introduction of International Women’s Day. Kollontai worked hard to promote women’s interests in the early Soviet Union, often a losing battle. And she had some exciting ideas about love in the new society.

Here it is, introduced and produced by Susan Stone for your enlightenment and enjoyment:

Show notes:
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Katy’s favourite pic, Kollontai (centre) at the Congress of the Peoples of the East, Baku 1920
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Young Alexandra
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Rabotnitsa, or The Woman Worker, 1923
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Kollontai as a Soviet ambassador
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With medals
For further reading, Katy recommends Cathy Porter’s excellent Alexandra Kollontai, A Biography, which gives a lot of helpful background information. And if you read German, Barbara Kirchner’s edition of Kollontai’s Autobiographie einer sexuell emanzipierten Kommunistin.

 

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in April. And here’s a link to our Patreon, in case you’d like to help fund transcripts.

Support for the Dead Ladies Show podcast comes from the Berliner Senat.

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Dead Ladies Show NYC #15

As you may know, our fearless DLS NYC leader Molly is having a baby, and handing off her duties to a new set of hosts each month. If you didn’t know: Surprise! Molly is having a baby! But even as new ladies are born, dead ladies continue to inspire and challenge us all, and so DLS continues.

In March, join HELEN O’HARE and MARY KATE SKEHAN to celebrate three women from the past: a legendary Broadway actress, the “mother of forensic science,” and a wildly inventive feminist science fiction writer.

You know the drill: 7–9pm in the Red Room at KGB Bar (85 E 4th Street, at Second Avenue). Doors will open a little after 6:30pm. Come all the way upstairs (two flights) and BYO food if you’re peckish!

Our NYC show is free to attend, ~ * but * ~ we do have a bar minimum to meet: please plan to buy a couple drinks to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB’s RED ROOM.

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ELAINE STRITCH (1925-2014) was an actress and singer known for her work on Broadway. She made her Broadway debut in 1946 and continued to appear on stage and screen nearly all her life–most recently as Jack Donaghy’s mother on 30 Rock, a role for which she won an Emmy. Stritch is best known for her unforgettable performances in Stephen Sondheim musicals, particularly Company. She continues to be emulated–and occasionally parodied–in pop culture today, from The Simpsons to Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

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FRANCES GLESSNER LEE (1878-1962) is known as the “mother of forensic science.” She’s most famous for creating the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, 20 true crime scene dioramas recreated in minute detail at dollhouse scale, used to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” Eighteen are still in use today. Lee became the first female police captain in the United States, and also helped to establish the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard. Her work revolutionized the emerging field of homicide investigation.

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JOANNA RUSS (1937-2011) was a writer, academic, and radical socialist feminist. She is the author of works of science fiction, fantasy, and feminist literary criticism, including the polemic How to Supress Women’s Writing, the book-length study of modern feminism What Are We Fighting For?, and the utopian novel The Female Man.

About your presenters:
LAURA PITTENGER is a playwright and director living in Astoria. Her work has been seen at FringeNYC, Athena Theatre, Project Y, The Playwrights’ Center, The Tank, Brooklyn College’s GI60 Festival, The Sheen Center, and more.
DANIELLE DIETERICH is an editor at Penguin Random House, where she acquires thriller, suspense, and commercial women’s fiction.
B. D. MCCLAY is a writer and editor at The Hedgehog Review. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Outline, The Baffler, The Week, Commonweal, and more.

Podcast #30: Emma Goldman

Episode 30! Can you believe it? For a little inspiration in these grim political times, podcast producer & presenter Susan Stone chooses a brand spanking new presentation from Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens. 
Our other dear co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins in on the comfy couch to introduce the fabulous Emma Goldman. This anarchist philosopher, activist, and writer was determined, persistent, and sure in her convictions. Which, duly, got her convicted. Often called Red Emma, she’s surely no true role model, but a heck of a lot of fun to learn about. 
Susan and Katy also talk about the inaugural Emma Goldman Awards that just took place in Vienna, and provide some rather poppy musical inspiration. 
Show notes:
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Here’s the Goldman family in the bad old days.

Emma Goldman

Mugshots

Emma in the media

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In Russia with Sasha Berkmann
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And here’s Audré Lorde in that T-shirt on the lake.
You might also like to watch the film about John Reed and Louise Bryant, which features Emma, REDS. But do make sure you set aside three hours and fifteen minutes…
For further reading, there’s Emma’s autobiography Living My Life, available in full online at The Anarchist Library, or abridged from Penguin Classics.
And Florian recommends books by Vivian Gornick, Candace Falk, and Sharon Rudahl.

For revolutionary dancing purposes, there is Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Enjoy!

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in March. And here’s a link to our Patreon, in case you’d like to help fund transcripts.

Support for the Dead Ladies Show podcast comes from the Berliner Senat.

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Dead Ladies Show #25

Our new season is built around outstanding Berlin writers who share stories of awe-inspiring women who’ve fascinated them and influenced their work. On February 11, show number 25 – our silver anniversary! – brings you three women who wrote radical things in difficult times: an eroticist, an anti-authoritarian, and an anarchist. Presented by the multi-talented writer and translator SASKIA VOGEL, Vogue model, journalist, teacher, activist, and writer ANNETT GRÖSCHNER, and your beloved co-host FLORIAN DUIJSENS. All held together by your other firm favorite KATY DERBYSHIRE. Come on up to the ACUD Studio for an evening of entertainment, inspiration, and intimate information.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Once again generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

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RUT HILLARP was a Swedish Modernist poet and erotic genius (as her biographer put it). She was also an experimental filmmaker, photographer, teacher, diarist, and novelist. Born in 1914 to a hardware dealer and an evangelist mother, and dying by suicide in 2003, she’s been called a grande dame of the Swedish women’s movement. After a rich life of writing, traveling, dancing, and taking love and sex seriously while teaching languages to high schoolers, she was discovered by a new generation in 1991: her work exhibited at the Stockholm national gallery, asked to design album covers, she even had her poems set to pop music. One of her key themes was the difficulties of sexual relationships in a male-dominated society. Saskia Vogel is her translator into English.

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The writer HELGA M. NOVAK was born in Berlin and grew up in the GDR. In 1961 she moved to Iceland, where she married, had two children, and got divorced. She made cathode-ray tubes, salted herring, and carpets, but also travelled to France, Spain, and the USA. After returning to East Germany to study creative writing, she was stripped of her citizenship for distributing copies of her critical texts and exiled. Always an outsider, she wrote poetry criticizing the East German state from the left, then autobiographical novels and nature poems. Wanting to move back in 2004, Novak was considered an unemployed foreigner and was initially refused a German residence permit. She managed it in the end.

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EMMA GOLDMAN was an anarchist philosopher, activist, and writer. After emigrating from Russia to America at a young age in 1885, she helped plan a (failed) assassination, distributed information on birth control, and campaigned against conscription – until the Americans deported her to revolution-era Russia. Quickly disillusioned by its repression of independent thought, she left the Soviet Union in 1923 and wrote about the experience, as well as a two-volume autobiography. Her writing and lectures covered topics as undying as atheism, free speech, marriage, free love, and homosexuality. And yes, it’s “Red Emma” on that poster/mug/T-shirt saying: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” It’s not a direct quote, but it’s not wrong either.

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Dead Ladies Show NYC #14

Happy New Year, Dead Lady fans! We at the Show are taking January to rest, refresh, and get ready for a HUMDINGER of a show in February: it’ll be second to NUN. That’s right—TWO NUNS (sort of…) and an “irascible” artist. Presented by an editor, a writer/translator, and a program officer at the IRC who is anything but irascible.

Plus a very special announcement…stay tuned! 🙂 🙂 🙂

You know the drill: Monday, February 3rd, 7–9pmin the Red Room at KGB Bar (85 E 4th Street, at Second Avenue). Doors will open a little after 6:30pm. Come all the way upstairs (two flights) and BYO food if you’re peckish.

Our NYC show is free to attend, ~ * but * ~ we do have a bar minimum to meet: please plan to buy a couple drinks to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB’s RED ROOM.

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MARGERY KEMPE (c. 1373–1438) was an itinerant Christian mystic and author of the first autobiography written in English. Crippled with symptoms of psychosis and insatiable sexual desires, but determined to become religiously devout, Kempe convinced her husband to agree to a celibate marriage. With her newfound freedom she took pilgrimages across Europe and the Middle East, making a (generally pretty bad) name for herself in the process. Prone to preaching (forbidden to women) and to impersonating nuns, she was eventually tried for heresy.

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JUANA INÉS DE LA CRUZ (1648–1695) was a Mexican writer, philosopher, composer, and nun who earned such sobriquets as “The Tenth Muse” and “The Mexican Phoenix.” Though theoretically cloistered, she hosted a popular salon in the nunnery that attracted many of Mexico’s contemporary intellectual luminaries. She wrote poetry, drama, comedy, and other works on topics ranging from religion to love to men’s hypocrisy. Because of her controversial views, which lead today’s scholars to consider her a proto-feminist, she faced censure right up until her death due to plague.

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HEDDA STERNE (1910–2011) was a Romanian-born American artist who is most often associated with the Surrealist and Abstract expressionist movements, though her extensive career crossed many boundaries and she herself disliked the confinement of such labels. Always endeavoring to discover new worlds and modes of expression through her art, she experimented with a variety of different styles and materials over the years, describing her works as “in flux.” While this absence of a singular style contributed to a lack of notoriety and commercial success in her lifetime, in comparison to her (mostly) male peers, in recent years many have begun to re-examine this extraordinary woman whose life and art spanned and interacted with one of the most creative and tumultuous centuries of human existence.

About your presenters:

MORIAH SPECIALE is an editor in New York City.

MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN KEMPER is a writer and translator based in New York City, where she also hosts a little thing called THE DEAD LADIES SHOW.

KIRI VAN LENGEN-WELTY works for the International Rescue Committee and is based in New York City. In her spare time she can be found doing freelance graphic design, singing in a choir, and scouting the streets for miniature dachshunds.

Podcast #28: Fanny Cradock

Episode 28 is a special one, available in English and also in German!

Our talented bilingual presenter is Mary Scherpe, the woman behind Stil in Berlin and co-founder of the Feminist Food Club. Working in that intersection of food and style, Mary’s almost predestined to tell us all about Britain’s extravagant television chef Fanny Cradock, whose life was not quite what you might expect… Recorded live as part of ACUD‘s Backyard Summer.

Plus, producer Susan Stone invites Florian Duijsens and Katy Derbyshire into her very own kitchen to pop some corks and talk turkey, game, raisins, and other festive foodie fun.

Here’s the English version:

Und hier gibt es die Folge auf deutsch:

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can find our transcript of the English version here.

Show notes

Here’s Fanny with her (most) beloved husband Johnny.

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And here she is putting on the style earlier in life.

Fanny 50s

In the BBC studio.

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A medley of dishes, original and recreated…

The BBC’s archive offers a wealth of Fanny Cradock Cooks for Christmas episodes for viewers in the UK. Or you could check out the 2006 movie Fear of Fanny, which exposed a new side to the celebrity chef.

But whatever you do, you probably have to watch the eye-rolling incident…

If you have more time on your hands, there’s the bizarre British Gas ad.

Mary recommends Fanny’s autobiography, Something’s Burning, and also Clive Ellis’s Fabulous Fanny. And we’re rather taken with the blog Keep Calm and Fanny On, recreating Fanny’s non-meaty recipes like the blue chestnut cream one above. 

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in January. And here’s a link to our Patreon page, in case you’d like to help fund transcripts.

Dead Ladies Show #24

There’s just one week to go until our next show here in Berlin, our last in 2019! So roll up, roll up for show number 24, in which we present three accomplished ladies who battled prejudice to lead self-determined lives: a hugely influential writer and anthropologist, an incredible dancer and comedian, and a spy who came out as a woman — more on them below. Introduced to you by the amazing author and filmmaker FATIN ABBAS, prestigious journalist and writer KATJA KULLMANN, and your beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE. All held together at the seams by your other beloved co-host, FLORIAN DUIJSENS. Come on up to the ACUD Studio for an evening of entertainment, inspiration, and fabulous females.

As always, the show is presented in a messy mixture of English and German, and once again generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Join us Tuesday 19 November at the ACUD Studio, doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink! €5 or €3 reduced entry.

ZORA NEALE HURSTON was a writer and anthropologist. Although her grandparents were born into slavery, she grew up in the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida, where her father was mayor. She moved to New York to study anthropology and became part of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance movement of African-American arts. Alongside researching cultural practices in the Caribbean and the American South, she wrote folklore collections and novels, plays and musical revues, essays, satirical articles, and non-fiction. Not all of it was published during her lifetime; her work was rediscovered in the 1970s, prompted by Alice Walker, who also found an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Florida, and reclaimed it as hers. Hurston’s writing about the African-American experience has been an inspiration to several generations of authors.

NORMA MILLER, nicknamed the Queen of Swing, was an African-American dancer, choreographer, and comedian. Born in Harlem, she began dancing at five and went on to make a career of it before she turned eighteen. “Black girls didn’t have many outlets,” she explained, and she was still teaching dance at the age of 98. In between, she danced in Hollywood movies – most notably the bizarre 1941 comedy Hellzapoppin’ with Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers – toured with her own troupe, and went into comedy when her knees started knocking. She produced and starred in shows, performing in Miami and Las Vegas with the likes of Cab Calloway and Sammy Davis Jr. In her later years, Norma Miller played a major role in the swing revival from the 1980s until her death early in 2019.

Charles Geneviève Louise Auguste André Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont, known as the CHEVALIÈRE D’ÉON, lived for 49 years as a man and spent the last 33 years of her life as a woman. She claimed to have been assigned female at birth in 1728 Burgundy and raised as a boy, but her elderly roommate got quite a shock when she found her dead body had male genitalia. Having served as a spy to the French king, the chevalière went into the military and then diplomacy, continuing her espionage for Louis XV from London. When the king died, d’Éon negotiated a return to France and legal recognition as a woman, then reluctantly assumed women’s clothing, made for her by Marie Antoinette’s personal dressmaker. She earned a meagre living after the French Revolution by performing in English fencing tournaments, wrote an unreliable autobiography and developed her own theology of virtuous womanhood, and died at the impressive age of 82.

Dead Ladies Show NYC #13

That’s right, folks, we’re already up to lucky 13!

Our December show will occur on TUESDAY!, December 10, from 7–9pm at the KGB Bar (85 E 4th Street, at Second Avenue). Doors will open a little after 6:30pm. Come all the way upstairs (two flights) and BYO food if you’re peckish!

This December, we’ll learn about a radical, Trinidadian-American activist and journalist, a landscape architect to the stars, and an iconic writer and filmmaker. These inspiring ladies will be presented, respectively, by a rad historian, an editorial whiz, and a book-to-film guru. Emceed by Molly O’Laughlin Kemper!

Free admission, ~ * but * ~ we do have a bar minimum to meet: please plan to buy a couple drinks to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB’s RED ROOM.

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CLAUDIA JONES (1915–1964) was a communist, activist and journalist and born in Trinidad, raised in Harlem, and who lived the last decade of her life in the UK. She rose through the ranks of the Communist Party USA in the 1930s and 40s, before she was subject to state repression and was eventually imprisoned and deported from the US. In London she started the West Indian Gazette and organized what became Notting Hill carnival. A brilliant and radical thinker, black feminist, anti-imperialist and community organizer, Jones is an inspiring dead lady with a searing clarity about fighting racial and imperial violence that remains crucial to us today.

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RUTH SHELLHORN (1909–2006), created close to 400 landscape designs throughout a sixty-year career that helped define the distinctive mid-century regional aesthetic of Southern California. She was landscape architect to the stars, including Spencer Tracy, Gene Autry, and Barbara Stanwyck, but is most well-known for her award-winning landscape designs for the Bullock’s department stores and Fashion Square shopping centers, projects that redefined the potential of commercial spaces, and for her work with Walt Disney on the design of Disneyland, where she used plants as a means of creating imaginary worlds both fantastic and familiar.

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NORA EPHRON (1941–2012) was a journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker responsible for some of the funniest, most heart-wrenching, and iconic moments in pop culture. As the daughter of screenwriters, she grew up developing her quick wit and penchant for storytelling. She attended Wellesley College and graduated into the feminist revolution where she contributed her voice to the movement with her clever-yet-honest articles about womanhood. From there, she became an essayist and novelist, only to find her way into Hollywood, ultimately writing and directing such classics as When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail.

About your presenters:

KATE BIRKBECK is in her third year of living in the US, her second year of a PhD program in American history, and her first year of going to the gym, which she has recently found she enjoys.

SARAH GOLDBERG is an Associate Editor at Scribner where she works on both fiction and nonfiction books. Unless raking leaves counts, she doesn’t particularly like gardening but does enjoy visiting gardens.

JACK GREENBAUM heads up the New York office of The Arlook Group, overseeing literary management and film/TV development. In addition to managing traditional screenwriters and filmmakers, he represents playwrights, authors, journalists, comedians, and a maximum-security prisoner. He also develops for film and television, including projects with TriStar, HBO Max, Berlanti Productions, and Star Thrower Entertainment.

Dead Ladies Show NYC #12

I may have spoken too soon about the weather in last month’s invitation, but I think now it’s safe to say we’re squarely into autumn. What better time for my favorite fall activity? apple picking Learning about influential women of the past while enjoying a beverage with friends in a venue that’s both cozy and chic!

Our twelfth show will take place on Wednesday, November 6, from 7–9pm in the Red Room at the KGB Bar (85 E 4th Street, at Second Ave). Doors will open a little after 6:30pm. Come all the way upstairs (two flights up the inside staircase). You’re welcome to bring outside food if you wish.

The November edition will feature a trio of women whose lives changed the political landscape of nations and continue to inspire people all over the world: a Spanish woman whose domestic violence testimony and subsequent murder led to stronger protections for women in her country, and two New York-born writers and political activists, contemporaries whose works—though very different—both aimed to improve the world. Hosted by (surprise!) Molly O’Laughlin Kemper.

Free admission, ~ * but * ~ we do have a bar minimum to meet: please plan to buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB’s RED ROOM.

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ANA ORANTES (1937–1997) was thrust into the Spanish public consciousness on December 4, 1997, when her electrifying testimony of the domestic violence she had suffered for 40 years made visible the previously overlooked phenomenon of gender violence. Thirteen days later, she was murdered by her ex-husband. Her story provoked public outcry and led to a sea change in public attitudes towards gender violence. Shortly after her death, the Spanish penal code was remodeled, and today, Spain has some of the most progressive gender violence laws in the world.

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SUSAN SONTAG (1933–2004) was an American intellectual, a political activist, a filmmaker, a popular icon, and a writer best known for her modern essays. Known for her sharp wit and scathing voice, Susan would combine her rebellious attitude and academic rigor to create brilliant essays including her best works “Notes on ‘Camp'” (this year’s Met Gala theme), On Photography, and The Volcano Lover. Although her essays and speeches would draw controversy, she was always searching for the truth, even if others found it cruel. She has been described as one of the most influential critics of her generation and her power lies in examining people’s work and forming critical analysis with style and conviction.

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The Bronx-born child of Russian-Jewish Socialists, GRACE PALEY (1922–2007) was a feisty political activist, beloved teacher, and mostly single mother who also found the time to write groundbreaking stories, poems, essays, speeches, reportage, and leaflets that she’d hand out on street corners. Both a postmodern innovator and a portrayer of traditionally underrepresented lives, such as those of working class women and children, she possessed a unique, vivid voice filled with humor and humanity. George Saunders wrote of her ability to “let language sing, sing precisely, and let it off the tether of the mundane, and watch the wonderful truth it knows how to make.”

About your presenters:

KAREN KLATZKIN teaches English literature at Borough of Manhattan Community College and has a Doctorate in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

SIAN CREELY is an occasional translator and sometime woman. She has an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge and is from Manchester UK. She works in women’s rights.

ELIZA HOYLAND is an Australian commercial photographer and producer currently residing in New York City.