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Jamia Wilson: Women's National Book Association

  • Pace University Bianco Room (map)

Women in the Literary Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities

Pace University, Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 6pm, Bianco Room

From the beginning of U.S. history, despite prejudices and social restrictions, women have been active and influential in the literary community. In colonial and revolutionary times they were printers, publishers, teachers, and writers; in the 19th century they were pioneering journalists and editors; in the 20th century they were the editors and librarians who revitalized children’s literature. In the 21st century, despite continuing inequities of opportunity, women’s contributions are deeply embedded in the literary landscape. Our panelists will address women’s struggles and successes in the literary community through their own lives and the lives of those who made significant contributions despite social and economic barriers.


Sarah Blackwood is Associate Professor of English at Pace University. With Sarah Mesle, she is the co-founder and co-editor of the magazine Avidly and the forthcoming short book series from NYU Press,  Avidly Reads. She’s finishing a book about nineteenth-century portraiture and inner life, and has published scholarly essays on nineteenth-century literature and art in American Literature, MELUS, and elsewhere. She’s written for The Awl and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and currently writes a column about motherhood and literature for The Hairpin.

Blanche Wiesen Cook is Distinguished Professor of history and women’s studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  She is the author of the critically acclaimed, best-selling three-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt; The Declassified Eisenhower: A Divided Legacy of Peace & Political Warfare; Crystal Eastman on Women and Revolution, among other books.  The New York State Council on the Humanities honored her as Scholar of the Year in 1996.  She is a frequent author of reviews and columns, and has received numerous awards for her writings. 

Alice Kessler-Harris is the R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History at Columbia University, and former president of the Organization of American Historians. She specializes in the history of American labor and the comparative and interdisciplinary exploration of women and gender. Her most recent book is A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman. Her other books include Gendering Labor History, which collects some of her best-known essays on women and wage work and the award-winning In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America.. Kessler-Harris has been a fellow at the National Humanities Center in Durham, North Carolina and at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is the past president of the Labor and Working-Class History Association.

Jamia Wilson is the executive director and publisher of the Feminist Press. She joined the Press after serving as Executive Director of Women, Action, & the Media, a direct-action network dedicated to creating gender justice in media at all levels. Previously, Wilson has served as TED Prize Storyteller and VP of Programs at Women’s Media Center.  A thought leader and writer, Wilson has contributed to New York Magazine, the New York Times, The Today Show, and the Guardian, and is a columnist for Rookie. In 2016 Wilson was honored as a Black Feminist Human Rights Defender by Black Women’s Blueprint and was recognized by Refinery 29 as one of “17 Faces of the Future of Feminism” in 2017.


Rosalind Reisner is the editor and a contributing author of Women in the Literary Landscape: A Centennial Publication of the Women’s National Book Association, published this fall by C&R Press. Her book Jewish American Literature: A Guide to Reading Interests won the Best Reference Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries in 2004. A former librarian, Rosalind speaks and writes about Jewish literature, memoirs, and readers’ advisory services.