Virtual Event: Maggie Doherty
A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s
in conversation with KATE BOLICK
May 19, 2020
7:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series and the History & Literature program at Harvard University welcome literary historian and critic MAGGIE DOHERTY for a discussion of her book, The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s. She will be joined in conversation by KATE BOLICK, author of the bestselling Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own.
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About The Equivalents
In 1960, Harvard's sister college, Radcliffe, announced the founding of an Institute for Independent Study, a "messy experiment" in women's education that offered paid fellowships to those with a PhD or "the equivalent" in artistic achievement. Five of the women who received fellowships—poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, painter Barbara Swan, sculptor Mariana Pineda, and writer Tillie Olsen—quickly formed deep bonds with one another that would inspire and sustain their most ambitious work. They called themselves "the Equivalents." Drawing from notebooks, letters, recordings, journals, poetry, and prose, Maggie Doherty weaves a moving narrative of friendship and ambition, art and activism, love and heartbreak, and shows how the institute spoke to the condition of women on the cusp of liberation.
Praise for The Equivalents
“The Equivalents is such an exciting, engaging, and important book that I loathed doing anything but reading it. With great psychological acumen, and ever-mindful of the nuances of class, race, and gender, Maggie Doherty brings these women vividly to life, allowing us to hear them speak, to feel their conflicts and their triumphs . . . Being creative while female has never been easy, and our best hope for resolution is this variety of historical excavation, one that shows us how people have tried to resolve it before, so we may learn and keep pushing forward, newly enlightened.” —Kate Bolick, author of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own
“Maggie Doherty’s revelatory history of female artists and their influential friendships stands as triumphant testament to the powerhouse first known as Radcliffe’s Institute for Independent Study . . . When Harvard swallowed Radcliffe in 1999, Radcliffe College ceased to exist, and the resulting quid pro quo endowment admitted men to what had been “a room of one’s own” for Sexton, Kumin, Olsen, Swan, Pineda, and many women after them. Maggie Doherty’s The Equivalents reminds us that generative “women’s work” can literally light up the darkness that discourages women’s voices—just when we need them the most.” —Jayne Anne Phillips, Bunting Institute Fellow, 1980-81, author of Black Tickets and Lark and Termite
“In her thrilling book, Maggie Doherty brings to vivid life the long-hidden history of a glorious American experiment that gathered creative women for a year of community in the shelter of a great university. The emotional power of The Equivalents lies in its revelation of the incremental impact of community on each of these formerly isolated women, prophetic of what would happen two years later with the publication of The Feminine Mystique and the arrival of Second Wave feminism.” —Honor Moore, author of Our Revolution
History and Literature is an interdisciplinary humanities honors program at Harvard. For more information, visit: https://histlit.fas.harvard.edu/
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