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May 19, 2020

Maggie Doherty

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.


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.

About Author(s)

Maggie Doherty is a literary scholar, historian, and critic based at Harvard, where she earned her PhD in English and where she currently teaches writing, literature, and history. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including the New Republic, the New York Timesn+1, and the Nation. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Kate Bolick’s first book, the bestselling Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2015 and appeared in multiple translations around the world. Bolick’s essays and cultural criticism appear regularly in Ellethe New York Timesthe New YorkerVogue, among other publications. Previously, she was online literary editor of The Atlantic.