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The Magazine of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University

Kaia Stern States Her Case







Kaia Stern States Her Case




How a prison visit led Radcliffe’s first practitioner-in-residence to transformative justice.

Real Research, Imaginary Lives BY CASEY CAMPBELL

Three Radcliffe fellows—all novelists—immerse themselves in research before putting word to page. See how Kaitlyn Greenidge, Lauren Groff, and Min Jin Lee construct their narratives.



From the Dean


Around the Institute


New Books


Events Online




Quick Study


The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University is dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The Fellowship Program annually supports the work of 50 leading artists and scholars. Academic Ventures fosters collaborative research projects and sponsors lectures and conferences that engage scholars with the public. The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America documents the lives of American women of the past and present for the future, furthering the Institute’s commitment to women, gender, and society.


Min Jin Lee RI ’19 delivered the 2018–2019 Julia S. Phelps Annual Lecture in the Arts and Humanities, after which she sat down for a conversation with Jeannie Suk Gersen, the John H. Watson Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Video of “Are Koreans Human? Our Survival Powers, the Quest for Superpowers, and the Problem of Invulnerability” is available on our website. For more about Lee, see page 30.


Continuity and Change


In May, I had the honor of presenting my first Radcliffe Medal to the incomparable Dolores Huerta, a civil rights and labor activist, as part of a Radcliffe Day program that explored how we can create a food system that ensures just labor practices and equitable access to ethical, sustainable, and healthy food.


This tradition—honoring an individual who has made important societal contributions with a day that is both celebratory and deeply engaged with pressing issues—is quintessentially Radcliffe. I view my deanship as an opportunity to celebrate these traditions and the outstanding work that has made the Radcliffe Institute what it is, while also looking for ways to achieve even more. This is not an institution that rests on its laurels, especially at a time when the role of higher education in our democracy is so clearly vital, yet also disconcertingly in question. As Radcliffe celebrates the 20th anniversary of its founding as an institute for advanced study and prepares to release a new strategic plan to guide our next five years, we must strike that critical balance between continuity and change. Speaking of change, summer is when we bid farewell to one cohort of Radcliffe fellows and get to work preparing for the arrival of the next. For me, the 2018–2019 fellows hold a special place as the first class I welcomed to campus, and their departure was bittersweet. Yet I look forward to September’s new fellows orientation, with the intellectual exchange and first-day-of-school excitement that it reliably brings. The incoming fellows are a remarkable group of scholars, artists, and practitioners who do not shy away from challenging questions. The class includes the historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore; Liz Chiarello, a sociologist exploring strategies to combat the US opioid crisis; the physician and epidemiologist Camara Phyllis Jones, who is working to identify and combat racism in medicine and health; Christian Rutz, a biologist using the New Caledonian crow to explore human technological achievements; and the political scientist Suzanne Mettler, who is examining threats posed by the confluence of political polarization, racism and nativism, expanded presidential power, and economic inequality. You can learn more about our 2019–2020 fellows online. And speaking of continuity, I look forward to continuing to engage with the Radcliffe community here on campus and to meeting many more alumnae, affiliates, and friends of the Institute around the country. My conversations with many of you during my inaugural year as dean were even more motivating than I had anticipated. (And I expected them to be very motivating!) I have even higher aspirations for the year ahead—and for what we can accomplish together. I hope to see you soon.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin Dean


Designer MELANIE DEFOREST Director of Communications JANE F. HUBER Dean TOMIKO BROWN-NAGIN RI ’17 Associate Dean for External Relations STACEY ELWOOD Executive Director of the Schlesinger Library and Librarian of the Radcliffe Institute MARILYN DUNN Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library JANE KAMENSKY BI ’97, RI ’07 Executive Dean NISHA MONGIA Executive Director of the Fellowship Program MEREDITH QUINN ’99, PHD ’16 Executive Director of Academic Ventures REBECCA FINK WASSARMAN ’87

Radcliffe Magazine (ISSN 2153-2338 print; 2153-2346 online) is published twice a year by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Copyright © 2019 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College Postage paid at Burlington, VT TELEPHONE: 617-496-0614 FAX: 617-496-0255 E-MAIL: magazine@radcliffe. harvard.edu Cover photograph BRAD TRENT Printed on Forest Stewardship Council™ Certified Paper with 10% recycled content.

The Radcliffe Institute is fully social. Keep up with us by joining our communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. www.radcliffe.harvard.edu www.facebook.com/Radcliffe Institute twitter.com/RadInstitute





FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2019 12:28 PM


Around the Institute

ON A RADCLIFFE DAY CROWDED WITH memorable moments—including a rousing finale led by this year’s Radcliffe Medalist, Dolores Huerta—a simple clothesline proved a crowd-pleaser of unique power. Running through the Marketplace of Ideas, in the sunken garden, the line displayed visitors’ inspired (and multilingual) responses to our request that they write on a notecard a favorite food memory. We heard stories of pork, salmon, eggs, tomatoes, and sweets—lots of sweets—but also of childhood, the comforts of home, love and loss, and the deep rewards of emotional nourishment. In the end, the scene came to resemble that of a good meal shared with friends and family—the conversation over too soon but likely to endure as a new favorite memory.





On Radcliffe Day, a Show of Power D O L O R E S H U E RTA ,

an iconic advocate for workers and women, proves a rousing medalist.


ON RADCLIFFE DAY, before nearly 1,000 alumnae/i and admirers, after tens of thousands of hours organizing, countless marches, a severe beating by a California policeman, an Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Dolores Huerta received the Radcliffe Institute’s highest honor: the Radcliffe Medal. A cofounder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) and president of her eponymous foundation, Huerta, now 89, rose to prominence in the 1960s as a leader of a years-long strike on behalf of grape harvesters in California. Her efforts helped laborers secure collective bargaining rights, better wages and job conditions, and benefits. She also created the UFW’s famous slogan, “¡Sí, se puede!”: “Yes, we can!” In her remarks, Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin praised Huerta as a leader who “has been fighting for civil rights for more than 60 years. . . . I’m struck by the sheer range of critical issues where Dolores

has been in the vanguard. She has fought for the rights of laborers and Latinos. She has been a powerful voice for environmental protection, for women’s rights, for voting rights, for LGBTQ equality, and for so much more. . . . A self-described born-again feminist, she is a powerful voice for women’s equality.” Huerta sat down with the broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien ’88 for a discussion that applied the lessons of her past to the urgency of contemporary civil rights struggles. Her top priority, Huerta said, is “to teach people that they have power.” “They may not speak English, they may not be citizens … they may be very poor,” she said, “but the power is in their person.” Huerta said that the vast majority of Americans are “people of good heart,” and were so in her earliest days as an activist. “But they had no idea that farmworkers were suffering,” she said. “Once they knew, it made all the difference in the world.”


“With all the power of our people, which is the majority here in the United States of America, we will demand that you share your wealth. We will demand that you share your power.” RADCLIFFE MEDALIST DOLORES HUERTA





“Hunger is not caused by scarcity of food. It’s caused by scarcity of democracy.” FRANCES MOORE LAPPÉ, COFOUNDER OF FOOD FIRST AND THE SMALL PLANET INSTITUTE




In “Nourishing America: Exploring the Intersection of Food and Justice,” a panel of experts offered diverse and important perspectives on food, food production, and policy.


O’Brien pointed out that in the 1970s, the UFW had more female leaders than any other union in the country. Huerta responded, “They’d ask Cesar, ‘Why do you have so many women in leadership positions?’ and he’d say, ‘Because they do the work.’” The conversation also touched on the teachings of the Indian nationalist and spiritual leader Mahatma Ghandi, whom Huerta cited as an inspiration. In her work with the UFW, she said, “we were very strict about nonviolence: we made people take a pledge.” Nonviolence should be taught in schools, she added, so that machismo loses its appeal, and boys learn to respect women. Addressing the state of the nation, Huerta called for corporations to take greater responsibility for food security. She also lamented the fallout from the culture war. Powerful forces foment arguments over abortion, LGBTQ rights, and other issues because “they want to divide people,” she said. “As long as they keep us divided on some of these issues, we’re not focusing on the real issues, which are the economic issues.” “We have a lot of inequity,” Huerta added, “[but] nobody is going to give away their power. We’re going to say, ‘We have our own power, and with all the power of our people, which is the majority here in the United States of America, we will demand that you share your wealth. We will demand that you share your power.” Huerta’s conversation with O’Brien was preceded by a panel featuring Sara Bleich PhD ’07, RI ’19, the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at Radcliffe and a professor at the Harvard Chan School; Jennifer Gordon ’87, JD ’92, a professor at Fordham Law and an immigration activist; Frances Moore Lappé, cofounder of Food First and the Small Planet Institute; Daniel A. Sumner, the director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and the Frank H. Buck Jr. Distin-




guished Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis; and Alice Waters, a food activist and the owner of the famed Berkeley, California, restaurant Chez Panisse. O’Brien moderated the discussion. The panelists began by discussing food insecurity and ethics. Pointing to the perceived conflict between profitable agriculture and sustainable farming that pays its workers fairly, O’Brien asked, “Does it have to be that way?” Don’t underestimate the role of politics, Lappé answered. “Hunger is not caused by scarcity of food,” she said. “It’s caused by scarcity of democracy. . . . We know about climate-friendly regenerative farming and all the good things we’re talking about here. So why aren’t they taking off? My answer is . . . our democracy is broken.” Gordon addressed the economic


structure of the US food system, with “brands at the top . . . subcontracting down to where it can be done most cheaply, and that is a synonym for treating workers poorly.” But Lappé pushed back, pointing to the Wisconsin cooperative Organic Valley, which started in 1988 with a handful of farmers and is now a $2 billion business. “They kept so true to their democratic and organic principles,” she said. Sumner said that if lawmakers forced farmers to pay better wages, they could mechanize or plant lesslabor-intensive crops. He argued that food labels stating whether the product came from fairly paid workers would have more success. “I think people are willing to pay for that,” he said. Bleich favored a more aggressive course of action. “We need blunt policy intervention to change our environment,” she said. Government programs to


improve public health have had success, she added, citing an Obama-era restaurant menu labeling initiative and a soda tax that raised tens of millions of dollars for neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Huerta closed the ceremony with an unscripted reminder of her roots in labor movements. She urged her listeners to encourage President Larry Bacow, seated among them, to settle Harvard’s contracts with its graduate students’ union and to start every day by washing their faces, brushing their teeth, and calling their representatives in Washington. “Who’s got the power?” she said. “We’ve got the power!” hundreds of people shouted back. “What kind of power?” “People power!” “¡Sí, se puede!” LUCIA HUNTINGTON IS A WRITER IN CAMBRIDGE.


Dean Tomiko BrownNagin stands with Dolores Huerta and the day’s moderator, Soledad O’Brien.

Videos from Radcliffe Day are available at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.

Fresh on the heels of studying Huerta in a history class, students from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School attended Radcliffe Day.

Huerta spent time in the Marketplace of Ideas meeting admirers and signing autographs.

Huerta “has been a powerful voice for environmental protection, for women’s rights, for voting rights, for LGBTQ equality, and for so much more.”








A Moral Sense of Citizenship

THE POWER OF citizenship was on Carmen Yulín Cruz’s mind when she visited the Radcliffe Institute in March, but with a caveat: that power has limits. “Citizenship does not give you equality,” the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, told the audience at “Unsettled Citizens,” where speakers and panels examined shifting and sometimes competing ideas about citizenship in a time of global migration. Delivering the keynote at the daylong conference, Cruz made an impassioned plea for unity and fairness. “Equality has to be fought for,” she said. “It has to be nurtured. It has to be taken care of every day.” Cruz, who in September 2017 gained national prominence for her criticism of the US government’s response to the widespread devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, questioned the nature of citizenship as a political institution, focusing on themes of humanity and belonging. Emphasizing moral over legal imperatives, she called for “global citizenship” and said, “We should be tearing down walls, not building them.” In explaining her views, Cruz pointed to what she and others saw as the Trump administration’s slow and inadequate response to


Maria. When the Category 4 hurricane devastated the island, a US territory, many Puerto Ricans relied on the bonds of citizenship, looking to the federal government for aid, Cruz recalled. “Don’t worry, Mayor,” they told her. “They will come.” Months later, as concerns over food, water, and electricity persisted, even her most trusting constituents began to lose faith, she said. Counting the casualties from disruptions in health care and shelter, Cruz noted a total of 3,000 dead from Maria and its effects. Many of those fatalities could have been avoided with a faster, fuller response, she said, laying blame with President Trump. “Our lives did not matter to him,” she said. “Being a citizen was not enough.” The hurricane and its aftermath highlighted an ongoing debate about Puerto Rico’s political status, with citizens divided in their support for statehood or independence. The argument for statehood gained momentum in the wake of Maria, with its supporters contend-



San Juan Mayor C A R M E N Y U L Í N C RU Z recalls harsh lessons of Hurricane Maria at Radcliffe conference.

Carmen Yulín Cruz, known to her constituents simply as Yulín, demonstated how the smartphone has the potential to connect us— both to a larger humanity and to a different morality.





During her keynote, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz spoke about the devastating impact of 2017’s Hurricane Maria. To this day, she said, 30,000 rooftops are still bluetarped in Puerto Rico.



Videos from the symposium are available at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.


ing that gaps in recovery aid were related to Puerto Ricans’ being disenfranchised in national elections. Cruz sees a strong case from “a strictly civil rights” perspective for giving Puerto Ricans a say in presidential elections. However, she opposes statehood, instead backing a compact of free association, which in essence would retain the island’s status as a territory. “I am an American citizen, but I identify myself as Puerto Rican, so my nation is Puerto Rico,” said Cruz, who has entered the 2020 governor’s race as a member of the Popular Democratic Party. Ultimately, even as she argued for the primacy of ties that transcend citizenship, she also championed citizenship’s ideals, notably the right to self-determination. “If the majority of people want free association,” she said, “let it be so. If people want independence, let it be so. If people want statehood, let it be so. Let it be so—but let us decide.” The day’s first panel explored how economics can define political status. K. Sabeel Rahman ’05, JD ’12, PhD ’13, president of the public policy organization Demos and an associate professor at Brooklyn Law School, addressed the practical implications of wealth and poverty. US economic policy has been “weaponized,” he said, citing disparities in opportunity that grow out of educational disparities, dividing society into a permanent underclass and a permanent ruling elite. “If you functionally can’t access economic opportunity, if you’re segregated from the center of the city, you’re not really a member of the full polity,” he said. Economic citizenship has another meaning for the Alaska Native Regional Corporations. Rosita Kaaháni Worl, president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute and a member of the Tlingit tribe, explained how native Alaskans, in an effort to take control of their lands, established tribal corpora-


tions through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement in 1971. This move transferred title to 330 million acres to 13 regional corporations and more than 200 village corporations, at the time the largest lands claim in American history. It also established Alaskan natives as an ethnic group. But corporate citizenship has had unforeseen consequences, Worl said. The requirement that the corporations show a profit has resulted in difficult decisions about the use and development of wild spaces, for example. In addition, tribal membership—and thus full membership in the corporations—is defined by blood, with only those able to prove one-quarter Alaskan native blood eligible for the designation. This has created heartbreaking situations in which tribal citizens have seen their children and grandchildren disenfranchised, she said. The “white ethno-state” was the focus of a presentation later in the day. A “territorial reimagining” based on a mythical past, this idea is at the core of alt-right hate groups, explained Alexandra Minna Stern of the University of Michigan. She also noted how the language of white nationalism—“deportation, homelands, and recalling birthright citizenship”—has entered mainstream political discussions. After additional speakers discussed global migration and the plight of refugees and disenfranchised workers, Daniel Carpenter AM ’02, RI ’08, faculty director of Radcliffe’s social sciences program and the Allie S. Freed Professor of Government in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, offered his takeaway from the conference. “Maybe we need a more encompassing vision of citizenship,” he said. “Maybe ‘unsettling’ it is exactly what we need to save it.”





Global “Vision” FOR TWO DAYS IN APRIL, “Vision & Justice: A Convening,” conceived by Assistant Professor Sarah Lewis and inspired by Frederick Douglass, was a campus hit, drawing crowds to the Knafel Center and Sanders Theatre and focusing the intellectual energy of the Harvard community on conversations and presentations at the intersection of art and race. But we weren’t the only ones watching and listening. According to live-stream data, “Vision & Justice” was an international sensation, commanding a virtual audience whose diversity was a fitting companion to the ideas explored by Lewis, Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Ava DuVernay, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Bryan Stevenson, Carrie Mae Weems, and many other artists and scholars. Here, we offer a glimpse of how the Radcliffe-sponsored event connected minds in Lagos and Wyoming, created common ground between Kansas and Thailand, and resonated around the world. In addition to dozens of communities in Massachusetts, states coast-to-coast and six continents were represented in “Vision & Justice” live-stream traffic. WORLDWIDE ALGERIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Batna ARGENTINA . . . . . . . . . Buenos Aires AUSTRALIA . . . . . . . . . . . Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, South Kingstown, Wedgefield AUSTRIA . . . . . . . . . . . Linz, Vienna BAHRAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . Manama BELGIUM . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hasselt BRAZIL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . São Paulo CANADA . . . . . Murray, Sunshine Coast, Surrey, Toronto, Vancouver CHILE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Santiago COLOMBIA. . . . . Bogotá, Cali, Cartago DENMARK . . . . . . Aarhus, Copenhagen ECUADOR . . . . . . . . . . . Loja, Quito ENGLAND . Bristol, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Oxford, Witham FINLAND. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tampere FRANCE . . . . . . . . Clermont-Ferrand,


Paris, Toulouse GERMANY . Cologne, Erlangen, Gescher, Halle, Witten GREECE . . . . . . . . . . . . . Heraklion HUNGARY . . . . . . . . . . . . Budapest INDIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bengaluru ISRAEL. . . . . . . . . . . Holon, Tel Aviv ITALY. . . . . . Altamura, Bresci, Foggia, Milan, Rome JAMAICA. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Kingston JAPAN . . . . . . . . Chiba, Kobe, Minato, Oita, Osaka, Setagaya, Tokyo LUXEMBOURG . . . . . . Luxembourg City MEXICO . . . . . . . . . Cabo San Lucas, Mexico City, Naucalpan MOROCCO . . . . . . . . . . . Casablanca NETHERLANDS . . . . . . . . Amsterdam NIGERIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lagos NORTHERN IRELAND . . . . . . . .Belfast PERU . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chiclayo PUERTO RICO .Caguas, Dorado, San Juan ROMANIA . . . . . . . . . . . . Bucharest RUSSIA . . . . . . . . . Saint Petersburg SAUDI ARABIA . . . . . . . . . . . Riyadh SCOTLAND. . . . . . . . . . . . Edinburgh SERBIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Belgrade SOUTH AFRICA . . . . .Pretoria, Sandton


SOUTH KOREA. . . . Seongnam-si, Seoul SPAIN . . . . . . . . . Barcelona, Madrid SWEDEN . . . . . . . . Gothenburg, Vaxjo THAILAND . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bangkok TUNISIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tunis US VIRGIN ISLANDS. Cruz Bay, Saint John USA AL AR AZ CA

. . . .

. . . .

Birmingham, Normal, Montgomery . . . . . . Little Rock, Fayetteville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Phoenix . . . Alpine, Bakersfield, Berkeley, Carmichael, Castaic, Escondido, Fresno, Los Angeles, Los Gatos, Oakland, Orcutt, Pomona, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Marcos, San Rafael, San Ramon, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, Torrance CT . . . Avon, Branford, Bristol, Danbury, Durham, Hamden, Hartford, Middletown, Milford, Montville, New Haven, Norwalk, Ridgefield DC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Washington DE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dover

Videos from the event are available at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.

THE NUMBERS The machine type breakdown shows the most smartphone usage ever: Page Views . . . . . . 4,641 Distinct Viewers . . . 3,786





FL. . . . Cutler Bay, Delray Beach, Dover, Hollywood, Holmes Beach, Lakeland, Leisure City, Miami, Miami Gardens, North Lauderdale, Opa-locka, Oviedo, Parkland, Royal Palm Beach, South Miami Heights, Tallahassee, Tampa, The Hammocks GA . . . Atlanta, Douglasville, Kennesaw, LaGrange, Newnan, North Decatur, Plainville, Putney, Savannah, Smyrna, Snellville HI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Honolulu IA. . . . . . . . . . . . Iowa City, Rowley IL . . . . . . . Champaign, Chicago, Elgin, Evanston, Greenville, Highland Park, Lafayette, Oak Forest, Skokie IN . . . . . . . . . Bloomington, Rowley, South Bend, Vincennes KS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lawrence KY . . . . . . . . . . Hampton, Louisville LA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Orleans MD . . . Annapolis, Baltimore, Bethesda, Catonsville, Colesville, College Park, Gaithersburg, Friendly, Silver Spring ME . . . . . . . . . . .Bangor, Bar Harbor, Freeport, Portland

MI . . . Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Farmington Hills, Saint Clair Shores MN . . . . . . Detroit Lakes, Minneapolis, Saint Paul MO . . . . . . . . . .Kansas City, St Louis, Saint Louis Park MS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brandon NC . . . . . . Cary, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh, Saxapahaw NH . . . . . . . Bedford, Exeter, Henniker, Londonderry, Nashua, Portsmouth, Stratham NJ . . . . . . . .Atlantic City, Blairstown, Bloomfield, Cherry Hill, Colonial Park, Egg Harbor Township, Farmingdale, Jersey City, Livingston, Maplewood, Montclair, Mount Laurel, Newark, Parsippany, Paterson, Roxbury Township, Secaucus, Sicklerville, Summit, Trenton, Union City NY . . . . . . . . Beacon, Buffalo, Burke, Cheektowaga, Colonie, Dover Plains, Ghent, Hartsdale, Hurley, Ithaca, Latham, Lynbrook, Mineola, New York, Nyack, Poughkeepsie, Suffern, Syracuse, Valley Cottage, Woodstock NV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reno


OH . . . Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Kent, North Olmsted, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid OK . . . . . . . . . .Oklahoma City, Tulsa OR . . . . . Beaverton, Portland, Tualatin PA . . . . . Altoona, Bellevue, Camp Hill, Colonial Park, Devault, Eastvale, Germantown, Harrisburg, Honey Brook, Munhall, Newtown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Upper Darby, Wynnewood RI. . . . . . . . . . .Newport, Providence SC . . . Beaufort, Charleston, Columbia, Seven Oaks, Wedgefield TN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nashville TX . . . . . . . . . Austin, Dallas, Denton, Elgin, Grapevine, Harker Heights, Houston, Sebastian UT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Provo VA . . . Annandale, Alexandria, Ashburn, Bailey’s Crossroads, Lake Ridge, Newington, Reston, Richmond, Virginia Beach, West Falls Church VT. . . . . . . . . Bennington, Brattleboro, Putney, Stowe WA . Bellevue, Olympia, Seattle, Tacoma WI . . . . . . . . . . Kenosha, Milwaukee WY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cheyenne






Videos from the symposium are available at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.


The filmmaker Ava DuVernay (facing page) took the stage at Vision & Justice to talk about her Emmy-nominated Netflix feature When They See Us, about the Central Park Five. Other stars of the event included (clockwise from top) the activists Naomi Wadler and Yara Shahidi, in conversation with Robin Bernstein RI ’19; Sarah Lewis, Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation, Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Claudine Gay, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.; and the artist Carrie Mae Weems.





The two-day event unfolded as a collaborative project of passion, urgency, art, and analysis, with Swizz Beatz, Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Chelsea Clinton, and a panel featuring Danielle Allen, Elizabeth Hinton, and Bryan Stevenson helping to drive a conversation that moved audience members to reach for their notebooks. Speaking in another kind of language, the jazz great Wynton Marsalis electriďŹ ed Sanders Theatre.




Videos from the symposium are available at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.







Speaking Volumes, with One Caveat

Gender conference celebrates the power of nonverbal communication.

“I and this mystery here we stand.” WALT WHITMAN, “SONG OF MYSELF”



Invoking the poetic wisdom of Walt Whitman, John Durham Peters delivered the framing remarks at the full-day session of the Radcliffe Institute’s conference “Beyond Words: Gender and the Aesthetics of Communication.” “I can’t think of a topic more pressing, more painful, more interesting, more beautiful, than gender,” said Peters, the Maria Rosa Menocal Professor of English and of Film and Media Studies at Yale University. “I can’t say what it is,


Videos from the symposium are available at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu. Drag performers (from left, Dr. Cool Ethan, Topher Wright, Anisa Love, Jayden Jamison KA St. James, the Reverend Roy Rogers, and Twinkerbell) closed out “Communication Can Be a . . . Drag” with a rousing group number.




and I can’t say what it means,” he added, but let us “celebrate the many forms we can take.” The late-winter event brought together an eclectic group of speakers who through their unique perspectives explored the aesthetics of communication. The audience at the Knafel Center learned about the growing popularity of tattoos among women, the complex language of perfumes, the nonverbal world of animal behavior, and the personality differences embedded in smart speakers. “There is so much more communicated than . . . what we explicitly express,” said the conference’s organizer, Shigehisa Kuriyama, faculty director of Radcliffe’s humanities program and the Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

IN HER KEYNOTE, Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of Manhattan’s Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, described the long evolution of fashion and its part in communicating gender roles and cultural trends. For centuries, one of the key gender differentiators in fashion was that women wore a skirt or a dress, and men wore some sort of bifurcated garment, such as leggings or trousers. “From 1860 to 1955, in Western culture you’ll find this rigid dimorphism in clothing,” she said. Steele, who has organized more than 25 exhibitions and published extensively on fashion, traced the history of several enduring icons. The corset, which for centuries was worn by aristocrats, was eventually adopted by fashionable women of all classes. Losing its appeal by the beginning of the 20th century, it began to play more of a role in fetish culture. The high-heel shoe is in some ways the modern-day equivalent of a corset, Steele said. “When you hear people anathematizing


In her keynote lecture, Valerie Steele discussed the cultural trajectory of such gendered garments as the corset.

fashion, they seldom mention corsets anymore except as historical evidence of patriarchy torturing women, but they frequently mention high-heel shoes.” Leather has been an important component of fashion. “One of the key things about both the corset and leather is the association with the hard body,” Steele said. She also spoke to the ways fashion signals status and power: “It’s fairly rare that men have copied things from the female wardrobe. In general, the idea is to dress like someone who has more power.” The business suit appeals to women as a status symbol. People will also appropriate the fashions of others, Steele noted, if they are seen as more virile, authentic, or cool. “A lot of people hate fashion,” said Steele in response to a question about the relationship between the body and clothing. “One of the main crimes of fashion is that it’s seen as being artificial, not natural.


But the idea that the body itself is natural is of course a complete fantasy, because we structure our bodies in innumerable ways. We’re taught to stand and walk, we cut our hair, we shave, we do all kinds of things to our bodies. Rather than pitting body versus clothing, it’s more useful when you’re thinking of the relationship to think of the body/clothes unit as being what you’re using to convey aspects of identity.” Steele took particular aim at the academic community for its attitude toward fashion. “Fashion is despised widely in American society, but it is especially despised within American academia,” she said. “The idea is that the life of the mind means that the life of the body is immaterial.” She also addressed whether fashion is shifting from a look of overt sexuality to one of asexuality. “Some designers have tried to deemphasize overt sexual charac-



Videos from the symposium are available at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.

teristics in clothing, but others have in fact stretched the idea of taking something which might be stereotypically sexy in one area and seeing what happens if you have other people wear it,” she said. “Very often, to make it popular you don’t rebrand it as asexual, you brand it as being both sexual and a range of sexual, because, really, how many people want to be sexually neutral?”

A TRIO OF dancers—Ayodele Casel RI ’20, Antoine Hunter, and Jill Johnson—brought the afternoon to a close as they spoke about dance’s power to communicate as a nonverbal art form. For Hunter, who was born mostly deaf, dance was a path out of isolation. Asked in a high school dance class to choreograph and dance a solo piece, he discovered a way to connect with others. “I communicated and had that connection,” said Hunter, who is the

founder and artistic director of the Urban Jazz Dance Company and Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival. “I wasn’t alone anymore. At that moment, that is when dance was my love.” “When I found tap dancing, it gave me an opportunity to express myself in this way without saying a word,” said Casel, the Frances B. Cashin Fellow and a 2018–2019 artist-in-residence at Harvard. “I could be in any room. That’s something that is really powerful, I think. What I love about that kind of communication and language— when we choose to communicate in this nonverbal way—is that there’s no barrier. Rhythm is innate and in all of us. We connect to it.” “It’s a special quality that dance holds,” said Johnson, who is dance director of the Harvard Dance Center. “It’s a nonverbal art form that can hold all of this space for all of us. There isn’t a limit to all of that.”

THE CONFERENCE’S opening event, held the previous evening, was “Communication Can Be a . . . Drag.” The spirited program of performance and commentary explored communication through the lens of drag culture, showcasing drag acts and clips from the documentary Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens. It also featured live drag transformations of the conference’s faculty organizer, Kuriyama, and Robin Bernstein, the 2018–2019 Joy Foundation Fellow at Radcliffe and the Dillon Professor of American History at Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Harvard professors in drag— who’d have thought it?” said Kuriyama. By the end of the evening, Kuriyama and Bernstein had taken on new personas. Drag, Kuriyama said, reflects “the selves in you that have not yet been realized.” SARAH ABRAMS IS A FREELANCE WRITER BASED IN CAMBRIDGE. Three of the conference participants— including the new fellow Ayodele Casel, here leading the line—danced their way into a panel celebrating the communicative power of such a physical art form.



Twenty-six years after a prison visit changed her life, the educator, author, and Radcliffe practitioner-in-residence hopes to build transformative justice into a nationwide movement.

Kaia Stern States Her Case

By Colleen Walsh Photographs by Brad Trent





Turning Point

Stern MTS ’99, RI ’19 will never forget her first day inside a prison. She was a senior at Vassar College visiting a maximum-security facility in New York State as part of an internship aimed at building bridges between college students and incarcerated activist-scholars. She remembers how the sun, reflecting off the shackles around a man’s ankles, “temporarily blinded me.” But almost immediately, that vision, and that encounter, helped her see. “The experience changed my life,” said Stern, who as a teacher, a researcher, and a leader is on a mission to overhaul the criminal justice system in the United States, which incarcerates more people—approximately 2.2 million—than any other nation in the world. As Radcliffe’s first practitioner-in-residence, Stern will help guide key components of a new initiative on law, justice, and education, building on her 26 years of promoting community and conversation among incarcerated men and women, students, teachers, and researchers. Stern’s target is what she calls the “American punishment system.” At the heart of her strategy lies “transformative justice,” which “includes the internal work necessary to sustain our commitments to social justice when there is so much trauma, there’s so much woundedness, there’s so much pain and fear. It explores how we do the internal work, the spiritual work, the witnessing work, in order to keep going in health.”



In a conversation in the final weeks of her 2018–2019 Radcliffe fellowship, Stern elaborated on the pivotal moment in 1993 when everything in her life changed. “I almost dropped out of college, because nothing meant anything other than this kind of work,” she said of her first visit to Green Haven Correctional Facility. “Everything felt meaningless except what was happening inside the prison. I had no perspective. I didn’t understand how to hold all the contradictions that you are better able to hold as an adult.” Stern would stay in school and finish her undergraduate degree, but something vital had been set in motion that day. “I felt very clear that learning and teaching in and about prisons and the sense of the prison classroom as a kind of sacred space in such a dehumanizing institution was like a golden thread through all the choices that I made.” Eventually those choices led Stern to Harvard, where she cofounded the Prison Studies Project with Bruce Western AM ’07, RI ’15 in 2008. The initiative, which began at Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, included sessions that relocated college courses to prison classrooms. Funding for Harvard’s involvement in prison education ended in 2014, but Stern’s work on transformative justice continued, thanks to support from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “We want to promote informed conversation about the challenges of mass incarceration and reimagine justice in the United States,” said Stern. That conversation has included working lunches, interdisciplinary discussions, film screenings, and the 2018 sympo-



Inspired Thinking Much of Stern’s time as a fellow was devoted to pressing herself and fellow scholars on what it means to “repair harm in relationships and change systems that cause harm.” Early role models and encounters started her on the path to that pressing question. As the daughter of a physician father who tended the bloodied feet of civil-rights marchers and a mother who protested the Vietnam War, Stern recalls that the impulse to help others was “definitely in the ethos in our home.” She cited her parents’ devotion to service and social justice as a formative influence, along with the stirring voices of Aretha Franklin and the gospel singer and civil-rights activist Mahalia Jackson. Another influence was the education rooted in a “progressive form of liberation theology” that she remembers from her time at


the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City. But ultimately, Stern became a model for others by channeling the inspiration she found in prisons. Elizabeth Hinton, an associate professor of history and of African and African American Studies and the author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Harvard University Press, 2016), noted Stern’s reputation “for transforming lives and being one of the foremost prison educators in the country.” The pair collaborated on “Beyond the Gates,” and Hinton is working with Stern to bring the voices of incarcerated women to Radcliffe’s fall conference “Radical Commitments: The Life and Legacy of Angela Davis.” “Within the Massachusetts prison system, Kaia’s a legend because of the power of her teaching,” said Hinton. “She is just an extremely powerful person, and when you are around her, when you are working with her, that power is infectious. She also has an eloquent way of being and of weaving together really complex issues somewhat seamlessly and magically and spiritually.” That spirituality has been fundamental to Stern’s approach since her undergraduate experience at Green Haven, where an encounter with Buddhist beliefs struck a chord. “This idea that life is suffering really resonated,” she said. The message took on greater meaning as Stern witnessed people in prison turning to religion for solace and support, finding common ground, whether Muslim, Christian, or Buddhist, in the idea of liberation. “That just cracked my heart and mind wide open,” she said. “I thought, ‘What is this tension between bondage and liberation, and


how does faith seem to be a lifeline in this totalizing institution?” While searching for the answer, she held to the idea that her passion for justice called for a law degree. Having graduated from Vassar, she waited tables, read scripture, and studied for the LSATs. But not long after enrolling in the City University of New York’s public-interest law program, her heart and mind began to protest. One day she broke down in tears. “It was this visceral response that I did not belong,” she said. “It was a combination of knowing that on a spiritual level and realizing that the logic—the thinking about adversarial relationships rooted in British common law—felt soul-bruising. I thought, ‘This is not justice.’” Realizing that she had “more faith in laws that cannot be written” and would most likely have more access to people inside prison as a person of faith than as a person of law, Stern dropped out of law school and enrolled at Harvard Divinity School, where she earned a master’s in theological studies. Later she received a PhD in religious studies from Emory University. Next came ordination as an interfaith minister at the New Seminary in New York City. Then she put her experiences on the page, publishing Voices from American Prisons: Faith, Education, and Healing (Routledge, 2014). One of Stern’s mentors, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree, called the work timely, rigorous, and original, praising the author for exposing as myth the idea that people in prison are somehow “evil, inhuman, the other.” “Listen to the voices in this book; they will transform you,” Ogletree, Harvard’s Jesse Climenko Professor of


sium “Beyond the Gates: The Past and Future of Prison Education at Harvard.” From the perspective of Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin AM ’12, RI ’17, Stern’s work fits perfectly with Radcliffe’s mission of interdisciplinary study and its efforts to connect more deeply with Harvard students. “Democracy and a healthy civic society depend on informed leadership and engaged citizens,” said Brown-Nagin. “For this reason, I believe it is critical to bring scholars, practitioners, and civic groups to Radcliffe to collaborate with our students, fellows, and faculty in engaged scholarship. Kaia’s work is based in community building and engagement. It’s creative, it’s cutting-edge, it’s attentive to pressing social problems—and it does, I think, meet many students where they are.”

Law, wrote in his foreword. “They have the power and the grace to guide all of us down a better path toward healing and true justice.”

A Sense of Belonging Stern has taught at Harvard Divinity School, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She is the executive director of the nonprofit Concord Prison Outreach, which offers educational programs in nine prisons and one jail in Massachusetts, including GED tutoring and courses in writing, art, horticulture, parenting, and entrepreneurship. “We know that the folks who land in jails and prisons have been failed by the institutions meant to serve them,” said Stern, “and this practical work reminds me of the value and transformative power of prison programming beyond a focus on college-level coursework.” Looking forward to her new role at Radcliffe, Stern said: “Part of the work will be to really define what we mean by transformative justice. There is so much work happening in this space—elders and activists who embody transformative justice in varied and inspiring ways. Some people talk about it in terms of preventing sexual assault, some people talk about it in terms of racial reparations. There are a lot of ideas about what it is, and I look forward to discerning and articulating how transformative justice fits into Radcliffe’s work as well as how Harvard can learn from community leaders and share its resources beyond University walls.” Connecting with students is a top priority, Stern added. “To really engage in transformative

work—where your heart is open and you are curious and you are moved by people—can be painful,” she said. “And it’s not tidy. It’s not something that you can communicate in a linear outline of a paper and be done with it. Students need support if they are going to learn how to do that work. And we know that the most fruitful learning happens in collaboration. We want to bring together graduate students, college students, high school students, to be asking critical questions: What is transformative justice? What is harm? What is healing?” Brown-Nagin is no less focused on reaching students. “Kaia’s work seeks to engage our students, who are educationally privileged, with populations that do not enjoy such privilege,” she said. “And it illustrates vividly how important education is. The simple reality is that given fewer opportunities, many of our students would not be as successful as they are. That intellectual and ethical realization is crucial. What’s more, to give students interested in service an opportunity to do this kind of social-justice work can be life changing.” In her Radcliffe office, Stern smiled as she reflected on her life and her life’s work. She knows that hers has been a winding road, but she also knows that it has led her to the right destination. “It feels like I am exactly where I have worked to be and I am meant to be, and it makes sense how things are complementing each other,” she said. “I feel really grateful for the opportunity to be here at this moment and to be in partnership with Radcliffe as we work together to develop these ideas.”

“We know that the folks who land in jails and prisons have been failed by the institutions meant to serve them.”

Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree wrote the foreword to Stern’s 2014 book Voices from American Prisons.




How to write what you don’t know RADCLIFFE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2019


In the stories of Min Jin Lee, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Lauren Groff, research is a recurring theme. By Casey Campbell Photographs by Jason Grow



by rules, some more entrenched than others. “Write what you know,” counseled Mark Twain—or was it Ernest Hemingway?— and ever since, both aspiring and accomplished authors have treated this advice as an article of faith, mapping their fiction inside boundaries drawn by direct experience. But some minds can’t help but stray. Kaitlyn Greenidge RI ’19, Lauren Groff RI ’19, and Min Jin Lee RI ’19 are in the latter group. The three novelists have made a point of pursuing topics they know scarcely or not at all, beginning each project with a research plan that a historian or biographer might find familiar. The book starts with archival work and oral interviews. It might include a trip to a local museum, a dive into a century-old novel, or a journey to a distant city. In one instance, submitting an application to Harvard Business School provided valuable insight (more on this later). The authors have developed unique methods of producing fiction, even in the face of common challenges. For all three, the creative process is labyrinthine, lengthy, and fraught: one unexpected turn can throw a project completely off track. But for writer and reader, the results have rewarded the effort. In the work of Greenidge, Groff, and Lee, the stuff of dreams and the sweep of history give life to each other.


Kaitlyn Greenidge Deep Thinker

“Most of mass market nonfiction history is white-men-ofhistory stuff, which I’m definitely not interested in.”

Kaitlyn Greenidge’s knowledge of subjects such as The Negro Motorist Green-Book and American Sign Language is so extensive, you might wonder how she finds time to write. The Massachusetts-born novelist included research on these topics and others in her first novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books, 2016), which told a story shadowed by American eugenics movements and animated by conversations on family, language, and race. Given the depth of research her writing requires, Greenidge could easily transition to a career in nonfiction, which she recognizes as the larger market. But her reasons for sticking with fiction run deeper.


We Love You, Charlie Freeman By Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin, 2017)

“The types of stories I want to tell are very rarely popular in nonfiction,” she says. “Most of mass market nonfiction history is whitemen-of-history stuff, which I’m definitely not interested in.” In her time as the 2018– 2019 Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow, Greenidge made progress on her next project, which revolves around Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first black female physician in New York State. Steward lived in Weeksville, a free black settlement in central Brooklyn, in the late 19th century. In her novel, Greenidge will also focus on Steward’s daughter, Anna, who moved to Haiti after marrying the son of the country’s Episcopal archbishop. A lack of scholarship on life in 19th-century Haiti has frustrated Greenidge at times. She’s also mindful of the challenge of persuading readers to buy research-based books. “The difficulty is getting a casual reader who is not particularly interested in 19th-century geopolitics to care and to understand the complexity,” she says. With so much information to keep straight, not to mention a story to tell, Greenidge finds that her

thoughts sometimes wander to the future critic who will note any creative detour from the factual record. But she accepts that critic as part of the job. A writer who draws material and inspiration from history is constantly balancing fact with fiction—and managing the delicate convergence of the two. “The point of researching fiction is to help you make something that stands up in a fictional world,” she says. As a fiction writer, Greenidge appreciates the chance to identify and elevate smaller dramas nested inside her larger project, such as the life of the first American woman to own a mortuary. Henrietta Duterte, an African American whom Greenidge encountered in the course of her Radcliffe research, used coffins to smuggle escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad. “That is way too good an image to not put in a novel,” she says. “Historians know they can’t write a whole history book about this type of detail because they can’t figure out how to fit it into a narrative. But many people would probably want to read about it, and it can fit into something like fiction.”

“I would love to have a book that just comes to me intact, but it’s never happened. It has to be destroyed and rebuilt multiple times.”


Florida By Lauren Groff (Riverhead, 2018)


Lauren Groff Creative Destruction Rewriting can be a daunting task, but Lauren Groff seems to embrace it. She writes early drafts by hand, in a messy scrawl doomed to oblivion, since she can’t read her own writing. “I would love to have a book that just comes to me intact, but it’s never happened,” says Groff, the author of three novels and two story collections. “It has to be destroyed and rebuilt multiple times.” The Florida-based author always starts with research. At first, it’s disparate and disorganized. As she starts to write, the background work continues. Much of this labor


never makes the page, and yet the reader would notice its absence. “The research is in the book in almost a ghostly form,” Groff says. “It’s like a phantom shadow throughout. Only I know it’s there, giving resonance to what is on the page, but I think that the reader can feel it under the surface.” Groff, the 2018–2019 Suzanne Young Murray Fellow, planned to spend her semester at Radcliffe completing her current project, “The Vaster Wilds.” The novel-in-progress emerged from a collision of ideas and influences, including early American captivity narratives and Robinson Crusoe. But instead of applying the finishing touches, Groff decided she needed to rewrite yet again. “I realized that the scope of the project was different than what I thought it was,” she says. The lectures she attended at the Institute, along with the time to dig deeper into the stories behind her story, helped her envision the book she hopes to produce. “Radcliffe gave me beautiful avenues of research and incredible ways of seeing the larger project,” Groff says. Her intensive research is a factor in all her work, although sometimes in stealth form. For her third novel, Fates and Furies (Riverhead Books, 2015), this was especially true. The novel,

which was a National Book Award finalist and a favorite of President Obama, tells the story of a marriage from the perspectives of husband and wife. “I wanted to write a book where the research was so hidden that you would just assume that it wasn’t there,” Groff says. “But I really did a great deal of research. I read at least 400 books and plays for that novel.” Groff recognizes that her process is not the fastest route to a finished novel. But without the setbacks and surprises along the way, the work would most likely suffer. Over many drafts, the past—personal or topical— can inform a story in ways she never imagined. Back in 2006, as part of a book project, she began to acquaint herself with the life of the 19th-century writer Guy de Maupassant. Not until last year did that research surface, in the concluding novella of her most recent story collection, Florida (Riverhead Books, 2018). Still, even as her thoughts roam, a natural stopping point awaits. “After you’ve done as much research as you can, the things that remain in your mind are the things that really speak to the book at hand,” Groff says. “They’re the living details, the elements that hold a current of energy. There’s a moment where the electricity tells you that you’ve done enough research. Now it’s time to write.”


“I’m building a world, and it has to be as real as the world you know. If I get it wrong, the reader won’t stay with me.”


Min Jin Lee The Art of Conversations Like any good researcher, Min Jin Lee, the 2018–2019 Catherine A. and Mary C. Gellert Fellow, begins each work with a thesis statement. What follows, however, is fiction. Lee, who was born in Seoul and grew up in New York City, is the author of two novels and spent her fellowship working on a third, currently titled “American Hagwon.” The new work is focused on the role of education in the lives of Koreans around the world, and will complete her diaspora trilogy, The Koreans. Like the first two books in the series—Free Food for Millionaires (Grand Central Publishing, 2007) and Pachinko (Grand Central

Publishing, 2017)—“American Hagwon” began with hours (and hours) of meticulous research. That research takes many forms, including interviews, in which Lee has uncovered invaluable material. “People always disrupt your expectations, which is a great thing,” she says. “I find interpersonal relationships to be so important because we don’t really know each other until we spend time with each other.” In-person conversations were crucial to Pachinko, the story of a Korean family living in Japan over four generations. Lee wrote the first draft of the novel, destined to be a National Book Award finalist, more than 15 years ago. Dissatisfied with the results, she set it aside until moving to Japan in 2007. There she conducted interviews with Korean Japanese people, which transformed her narrative. The timeline was stretched and details were corrected. Accuracy wins the reader’s trust, Lee notes. “I’m building a world, and it has to be as real as the world you know. If I get it wrong, the reader won’t stay with me.” Along with interviews, Lee immerses herself in everyday lives, seeking inspiration and guidance for her fiction in real-life people and situations. While


Pachinko By Min Jin Lee (Grand Central, 2017)

Dog-Eared Pages Research has made Lee an expert in topics ranging from hagwons to pachinko parlors. But fiction gives her room to explore in ways that nonfiction wouldn’t allow, she says. “You and I talking about [issues] in a political, socioeconomic way is very different than reading fiction,” she says. “I really enjoy the questions that I have. If I didn’t have really interesting, weird questions, I wouldn’t want to write fiction.” Greenidge, Groff, and Lee agree that they could write more books if not for all the behind-the-scenes work. Although readers might welcome more titles, the authors have no plans to change their ways. Exploring new topics ignites their curiosity and excitement— feelings essential to compelling storytelling. For now, the novelists and Radcliffe fellows are happy to stick to what they don’t know (yet).

researching Free Food for Millionaires, her debut novel about a young Korean American woman navigating life in Manhattan, Lee applied to Harvard Business School, which allowed her to attend an orientation session for prospective students. In a day of interacting with candidates to attend one of the world’s most prestigious business schools, she noticed a confidence she had never seen before. It was an experience that proved formative for Lee’s fictional creatures of Wall Street. “All the feelings that I have when I meet people, I try to give to my characters,” she says. Lee has maintained this approach in her current project. At the Institute, she took advantage of the Radcliffe Research Partnership program, through which students work to expand the scope of fellows’ knowledge. The author’s four undergraduate partners connected with international students at Harvard, asking about their experiences in different educational systems. In the end, Lee gained 40 additional interviews.

We asked the Radcliffe novelists featured in this article to share with us some of their favorite titles. Here’s what they love—and return to again and again. Are any of these books on your list? Kaitlyn Greenidge

These Ghosts Are Family: A Novel BY MAISY CARD

Wide Sargasso Sea BY JEAN RHYS


Lauren Groff



The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman BY LAURENCE STERNE

Metamorphoses BY OVID

Min Jin Lee



The House of Mirth BY EDITH WHARTON





Life of Varian Fry inspires novelist to new heights Bowlaway: A Novel by Elizabeth McCracken RI ’09 Ecco, 373 pp.

The Flight Portfolio By Julie Orringer RI ’14 Alfred A. Knopf, 562 pp.

VARIAN FRY ’30 WAS a journalist living in New York when he made a trip in 1935 to Berlin, where he saw Jews brutalized by Nazi forces. He soon helped to found the Emergency Rescue Committee, which sent him to Marseilles in 1940. He planned to stay for two months and help 200 people, but he ended up staying for a year and rescuing more than 2,000. Orringer intended to tell Fry’s story in her first novel, The Invisible Bridge (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), before she realized he would need his own book. It was a decision that will please readers. Her narrative is beautifully written and packed with action and intrigue—a literary page-turner. During his life, Fry was not open about his complicated sexuality—he had male lovers as well as a wife and children—but in the novel Orringer gives him an invented lover, the dashing Elliott Grant, an African American passing for white. Fry and Grant meet at Harvard and resume their affair in France. Their fictional romance dramatizes and deepens the challenges Fry faces. It’s a tale with numerous twists and turns, as Fry works doggedly to help artists, writers, and intellectuals escape the Vichy police and the Gestapo, arranging for them to travel to Spain and Portugal. Throughout, Orringer’s writing exhilarates, with landscape and characters coming to life. One memorable event is a dinner party at Villa Air Bel, near Marseilles, where the surrealists Max Ernst and Andre Breton and the art collector Peggy Guggenheim are hiding out. Food is scarce, but the resourceful Madame Nouguet—who once served goldfish for dinner—scrapes together a meager meal at which all the attendees get naked. Fry’s story has personal resonance for Orringer, because, as she told Publishers Weekly, “my family was lucky enough to make it here safely.” Putting her beliefs into action, she announces in an author’s note that a portion of the book’s proceeds will be donated in perpetuity to the International Rescue Committee, the successor to Fry’s group. Pat Harrison is the former editor of Radcliffe Magazine.



The pleasures of McCracken’s third novel are its humor and quirky characters. The protagonist, Bertha Truitt, is discovered unconscious in a cemetery by two people: Leviticus Sprague, a physician whom she later marries, and Joe Wear, an orphan to whom Truitt offers a job in the candlepin bowling alley she intends to build. At Truitt’s Alley, women are allowed to bowl right out in the open rather than behind curtains. The time is the early 20th century, and the place is a town north of Boston called Salford. After Truitt and Sprague marry, he builds them an octagonal house with large rooms and an octagonal cupola at the top. “It wasn’t a goodlooking house but a spectacle,” McCracken writes. “Not a folly (people could live in it) but a folly (who would want to).” Sixteen years after they meet, Truitt dies in the molasses flood of 1919 while driving her Stanley Steamer. Devastated, Sprague moves into the bowling alley and drinks all day. In the tumble of weird characters and strange events, readers may lose track of the plot, but the humor and delight in language redeem the novel.

The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay RI ’16 Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 274 pp. Gay’s book is one to carry around and dip into whenever you have a few minutes. Ranging in length from one paragraph to several pages, these essays are inspiring and evocative. Delightful, in truth. The poems in Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) earned him a raft of prizes, including the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. For The Book of Delights, he set out to write an essay every day about something delightful, beginning on his 42nd birthday and ending on his 43rd. In the preface, he writes that as the year progressed, he experienced more delight, which increased as he shared it. But the book is more than a chronicle of joy. Gay is serious about his struggles as a black man in America. In the essay “Negreeting,” Gay describes his practice of nodding at every black person he sees in Bloomington, Indiana, where he lives. He travels to Vancouver, where he isn’t negreeted once. Returning home, he is negreeted again and again, which feels “like being held, in a way, and seen in a way.”

The Beneficiary: Fortune, Misfortune, and the Story of My Father by Janny Scott ’77 Riverhead, 278 pp. Until she was 14, Scott lived in a 50-room mansion on an 800-acre compound called Ardrosson, near Philadelphia, which she and her siblings referred to as “the place.” Her family was wealthy on both sides and filled with singular personalities, such as Helen Hope Montgomery, the author’s grandmother, who was understood to be the model for Katharine Hepburn’s character in The Philadelphia Story. This is foreign territory to most of us—the compound, the aristocratic lineage—but the troubles the family endured are all too familiar: alcoholism, divorce, suicide. As the story winds up, things are changing for those with great wealth. The family “cottage” on Mount Desert Island has been demolished, and only a few people live on Ardrosson. But much has stayed the same: “Somewhere in the world, a new ‘place’ is being built,” Scott writes. “Biggest remains best.” Scott worked for many years as a journalist and is the author of a best-selling book, A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother (Riverhead, 2011). Her writing is moving and wise.


Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over

Alfred Stieglitz: Taking Pictures, Making Painters

by Nell Painter PhD ’74, BI ’77 Counterpoint, 331 pp.

by Phyllis Rose ’64, PhD ’70 Yale University Press, 259 pp.

Painter was 64 and an esteemed professor—having taught history at Princeton since 1988 and published seven books—when she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. This exuberant memoir is the story of how she did it. Luckily, she had a mighty role model in her mother, Dona L. Irvin, who started over herself at 65 by writing two books. Painter began her new life by earning a BFA at Mason Gross School of the Arts of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. At the start of the school year, a young woman asked her how old she was. After Painter told her, the student exclaimed, “I’ve gotta tell my mom about this!” In her career as a historian, Painter had been, in her description, “a whiz kid,” but she quickly discovered that her classmates at Mason Gross painted better than she did. Undaunted, she forged ahead, learning by transcribing the work of artists she admired, including Alice Neel and Max Beckmann. After completing an MFA at Rhode Island School of Design, she developed into an artist with a body of work and her own studio in Newark, New Jersey.

We can thank Alfred Stieglitz for bringing us Matisse, Picasso, and Rodin. In the early 20th century, in a succession of galleries in New York, he introduced Americans to these European modernists. And he promoted the work of many American artists, including John Marin, Arthur Dove, and, of course, Georgia O’Keeffe. Stieglitz also made pioneering contributions to photography, which Rose describes insightfully and in depth. Her commentary on Stieglitz’s and Edward Steichen’s photographs of the Flatiron Building in New York—both of which are reprinted in the book—is particularly illuminating. But the chapters on Stieglitz’s second marriage—to O’Keeffe—are the most memorable. The artists could not have been more different. As Rose writes, “She was muted and self-contained . . . Stieglitz was a born bullhorn waiting for a cause.” When O’Keeffe sent him early charcoals from Canyon, Texas, he was bowled over and hung them in his gallery without her permission. Surely only someone as confident and stern as she would insist that he take them down immediately.



Events Online

The artist Willie Cole sits down with Jennifer L. Roberts, the JohnsonKulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts at Radcliffe, and the Highpoint Center for Printmaking’s Cole Rogers, a master printer, to discuss his Beauties, haunting full-scale prints made from crushed and hammered ironing boards, each named after a woman from the artist’s cultural and ancestral history.

Socialite-Activists and the Black Freedom Struggle As part of the 2018–2019 Fellows’ Presentation Series, Tanisha C. Ford RI ’19 presents her work on the first economic history of the civil-rights movement to explore how black women activists raised millions of dollars for movement organizations by hosting lavish galas, fashion shows, and beauty pageants for an interracial audience.



State Presence at Border Crossings in the Modern World For the 2018–2019 Fellows’ Presentation Series at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Beth A. Simmons RI ’19 shares her work on a continuously evolving project that attempts to document and explain the paradox of hardening international borders between states in an era of globalization.


Willie Cole: Beauties Opening Discussion

Videos of these and other events are available at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/video-and-audio.

The Undiscovery of Cosmic Deceleration

Genetics and Ethics in the Obama Administration

Robert P. Kirshner, the Clowes Research Professor of Science in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, set out to find the deceleration of the expansion of the universe, only to find something else: amazingly, the measurements showed that the expansion of the universe was speeding up. The astonishing discovery of cosmic acceleration has now been confirmed from many directions—and attributed to a “dark energy” that dominates the universe, its nature a deep mystery at the heart of physics.

Alondra Nelson—now the president of the Social Science Research Council and a professor of sociology at Columbia University—discusses the Obama administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and, in particular, the evolution of the Precision Medicine Initiative in the United States. This is the 2018–2019 Kim and Judy Davis Dean’s Lecture in the Social Sciences.


Why Brain Science Needs an Edit In the 2018–2019 Kim and Judy Davis Dean’s Lecture in the Sciences, Mu-ming Poo, founding director of the Institute of Neuroscience at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, discusses the use of gene-editing tools such as CRISPR in efforts to develop a macaque monkey behavioral model for studying self-consciousness. He also addresses ethical issues associated with gene editing and the use of nonhuman primates in biomedical research.




Newsmakers SUMMER 2019 Honor Roll Hala Zreiqat RI ’17 was among those to be named a member of the Order of Australia as part of the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours. She was recognized for her contributions to biomedical engineering and to research councils. So far this year, Tayari Jones RI ’12 has earned two literary prizes on two continents for An American Marriage: A Novel (Algonquin Books, 2018): in April, she was awarded the 2019 Aspen Words Literary Prize, and in June, she took home one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious book awards, the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Representing Women Susan Meiselas EdM ’71, RI ’19, the Radcliffe-Harvard Film Study Center Fellow/David and Roberta Logie Fellow, received the 2019 Women in Motion Award at the 50th edition of the annual photography festival Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles. The inaugural prize, jointly presented by the festival and Kering’s Women in Motion Group, honored her for the representation of women in her work throughout her career. Meiselas also won the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019, awarded by the foundation for her significant contribution to photography in Europe through an exhibition, Mediations, which was on view at Jeu de Paume, in Paris, in 2018. The exhibition included some of the immersive photography series she has produced since the 1970s—the most comprehensive European retrospective of her work to date. Earlier this spring, Meiselas collaborated with the Harvard Film Archive on Visions of Richard P. Rogers [’67, EdM ’70], a retrospective of work by her late husband.



The sociologists Elizabeth A. Armstrong RI ’08 and Michèle Lamont AM ’03, RI ’07 were among the 32 scholars named as 2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellows.


5 Hala Aldosari RI ’18 recently joined the MIT Center for International Studies as its Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow. She will spend the coming academic year studying the advancement of women’s rights in Arab countries while she establishes an organization that will advocate for women’s and human rights in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, Aldosari was awarded the inaugural Jamal Khashoggi Fellowship by the Washington Post.

This spring, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced its newly elected members, among them Elizabeth Alexander RI ’08; Francine Berman RI ’20, the Katherine Hampson Bessell Fellow; Leah Dickerman ’86; Nancy Fraser BI ’88; Jeff Gelles ’79, RI ’17; Barbara B. Kahn AM ’00, RI ’11; Nadira D. Karunaweera RI ’06; Asunción Lavrin AM ’57, PhD ’63; Michel Martin ’80; Axel Meyer RI ’18; Carol J. Oja AM ’03, RI ’17; Ngozi Okonjo Iweala ’77; and Anna Deavere Smith BI ’92. Lauren Benton ’77 and Alexandra Chasin BI ’97 were awarded 2019 Guggenheim Fellowships. Anna Maria Hong RI ’11 won the 2019 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America with her collection Age of Glass (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2018), begun during her fellowship year. In late June, she sat on the opening-night panel at the Deep Water Literary Fest, where she also read. “Hansel and Gretel in 2019: A Dialogue Between Lindsey Drager and Anna Maria Hong” appeared in a #MeToo-focused issue of American Book Review. Hong’s H & G (Sidebrow Books, 2018) was featured in the Bustle article “How I Learned to Love Experimental Fiction as a Brown Girl by Seeking Out Books by Women of Color.” Both books are finalists for the 2019 Vermont Book Award. The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910–1950 (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), by Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt RI ’05, won a 2019 PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers. Rosemblatt began the book during her Radcliffe year.


Min Jin Lee RI ’19, who was the Catherine A. and Mary C. Gellert Fellow, was inducted into the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame this spring, when it was also announced that an eightepisode series adapted from Lee’s novel Pachinko (Grand Central Publishing, 2017), which she will executive produce, is in the works at Apple. NPR’s On Point hosted Lee to talk about how her immigrant story figures into that of the greater

Losing a Graceful Chronicler of America’s Past and Present Best known for his writings about the Civil War and the American South, Tony Horwitz RI ’06 died unexpectedly at age 60 on May 27, Memorial Day. The novelist Geraldine Brooks RI ’06, his wife, reported that he collapsed while walking. His latest book, Spying on the South: An Odyssey across the American Divide (Penguin Press, 2019), about the antebellum travels of the landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, had come out only two weeks before. During the course of his career, Horwitz reported from war zones (he and Brooks won the 1990 Hal Boyle Award for their reporting on the Gulf War), poultry factories, prisons, the road, and ships at sea. “His journalism was always participatory, and he took readers along for the ride,” Joel Achenbach, a reporter for the Washington Post, told the New York Times. “Horwitz . . . was a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, a former New Yorker staff writer, and a distinguished American historian with a singular voice, full of compassion and delight and wry observations and self-deprecating humor—layers that covered but never obscured his deep and abiding moral seriousness about the task of the historian as the conscience of a nation,” wrote Jill Lepore AM ’03, BI ’00, RI ’20 in a moving New Yorker tribute immediately after his death. Obituaries appeared in such media outlets as the Nation, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal, where Horwitz was on staff when he won the Pulitzer. Many across the literary and media worlds—and here at Harvard—will remember him fondly. He is survived by Brooks and their two sons, Nathaniel and Bizu.


Korean diaspora. During the wide-ranging conversation, she read from two recent personal essays, published in the New York Times and in the New Yorker, and reflected on her experiences in various educational environments, including elite colleges. For more about Lee, see page 36.

Inklings In a new paper, a team led by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fellow Aniruddh D. Patel AM ’90, PhD ’96, RI ’19 analyzed the choreography of a cockatoo (and YouTube sensation) named Snowball, identifying 14 discrete dance moves. “Spontaneity and Diversity of Movement to Music Are Not Uniquely Human” appeared in Current Biology, and its findings received global media attention. Emma J. Teng ’89, AM ’92, PhD ’97, RI ’08 and Wen-hui Anna Tang ’97, PhD ’97 coauthored “A New Chapter in the Taiwan Miracle: Same-Sex Marriage Legalized on Tsai’s Watch” for the Fairbank Center blog. In May, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.



Children, Reading Helps Heal Trauma.” The organization, backed by UNICEF, has launched a pilot program in which it works with Syrian children housed in the Za’atari refugee camp to reduce toxic stress through reading aloud.

One of this year’s Mellon-Schlesinger Fellows, Liette Gidlow BI ’00, RI ’20, appeared in the media in association with the 100th anniversary of the congressional passage of the 19th Amendment: the Washington Post cited her research in “How Racism Almost Killed Women’s Right to Vote,” and the Atlantic quoted her in “The Epic Political Battle over the Legacy of the Suffragettes.” An associate professor of history at Wayne State University, Gidlow is participating in the Long 19th Amendment Project at the Schlesinger Library.

On the eve of the unveiling of the firstever captured image of a black hole, the astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan RI ’09 wrote a New York Times opinion piece titled “At Long Last, a Glimpse of a Black Hole,” saying, “Images from the Event Horizon Telescope have the potential to redefine the cosmos once again, and prompt wonder and curiosity about our place in it.” A multinational effort, the Event Horizon Telescope includes contributions from two other fellows (see Public Life, page 47).

Viet Thanh Nguyen RI ’09 reflects on his mother’s death and the refugee experience in the personal essay “Hereafter, Faraway,” which appeared in the New Yorker. In an earlier New York Times opinion piece, “America, Say My Name,” he looks back at his decision, as a newly American adolescent, to keep his birth name instead of adopting something more typically American. (He was nearly a Troy.)

Nicole C. Nelson RI ’19, who was a Katherine Hampson Bessell Fellow, used her ethnographic research to explain a Twitter phenomenon in a piece that appeared in Medium, “The @justsaysinmice Problem Goes Far Deeper Than Bad Science Reporting.” The Twitter account @justsaysinmice simply retweets science journalism with the added comment “IN MICE,” and Nelson deconstructs how this seemingly flippant response points to a serious problem in science. The New York Times featured the work of the Jordan-based nonprofit We Love Reading, founded by the molecular biologist Rana Dajani RI ’18, in “For Refugee


Saying Good-bye to a Film Pioneer The experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer RI ’02, who lived with ovarian cancer for 13 years, died on March 16. Shortly before her death, the New Yorker featured her and her spouse of 31 years, Florrie Burke, in “Barbara Hammer’s Exit Interview.” As Masha Gessen noted in the article’s introduction, “With retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, and the Tate Modern, in London, among other venues, she is probably the first artist to have achieved mainstream acclaim for a lifetime of work done as a lesbian, largely about lesbians.” In the article, Hammer spoke not only about her artistic output but also about her advocacy work around death with dignity. “A self-identified badass, Barbara Hammer was a force of nature to be reckoned with,” said Gonzalo Casals, the executive director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York, in an ArtNews obituary. “Over the span of her 40-plus-year career, her uncompromising work brought visibility to lesbian and gender issues, aging, and the female body.” Vanity Fair also published an interview after Hammer’s death, titled “Barbara Hammer Maintained Her Curious Eye until the End,” in which A.M. Homes wrote, “While dying she used her own life and work as a creative force, demonstrating that the art of death and the art of life are one and the same.”


A political opinion piece coauthored by Beth Simmons AM ’87, PhD ’91, RI ’19, the Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professor, and Michael Kenwick, titled “Border Barriers Are on the Rise,” appeared on the CNN website. The article, a sort of project synopsis, sought to explain global findings about border walls and their meaning for the border debate in the United States. Various chapters of the experimental collaboration between Ben Miller RI ’15 and the artist Dale Williams, “it all melts down to this: a novel in timelines,” were published in AMP, Inverted Syntax, and the Journal of Black Mountain College Studies. In addition, Miller’s essay “Nine Parrot Tulips” appeared in the Antioch Review earlier this year. In “Why Are Teachers Protesting in ‘Blue’ Cities?” Maury Green Fellow Sarah Reckhow ’02, RI ’19 explores (with her coauthors Rebecca Jacobsen and Jeffrey R. Henig) how the nationalization of school board elections in some major cities has changed the game for teachers’ unions. The


Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club, published “In Praise of Public Beaches,” by Kaitlyn Greenidge RI ’19 (see more on page 32), in its May/June 2019 issue. Greenidge, who was the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow this past academic year, is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times opinion section, and her recent writings for the paper include “Meghan Markle and My Tabloid Obsession” and “The City of Lost Love.”

Stefan Helmreich RI ’19, a Katherine Hampson Bessell Fellow, published his essay “Domesticating Waves in the Netherlands” in Bomb. In the article, Helmreich, an anthropologist, explores waves in Dutch art and technology as well as in the public imagination.

analysis appeared in the Washington Post. Claudia Escobar RI ’16 published an article in the online publication Just Security titled “US Congress Should Stop Security Assistance to Guatemala until Rule of Law Is Restored.” In the article, Escobar—a former appellate judge in Guatemala who resigned in protest over corruption in the courts and fled the country after political intimidation—expresses concern about “the rapidly escalating constitutional crisis that threatens recent progress to establish the rule of law in my country.” Together with David A. Chang, Alyssa Mt. Pleasant RI ’16 published an opinion piece in Politico titled “The Horror of Trump’s Wounded Knee Tweet.” The article, written in response to a tweet by President Donald Trump that invoked the historic massacre while mocking a US senator, explored the history of Wounded Knee alongside commentary about enduring stereotypes of Native American people.



Shelf Life Jana Prikryl RI ’18 has published No Matter: Poems (Tim Duggan Books, 2019), her second collection. “One of the most original voices of her generation has produced a second brilliant book,” said James Wood in advance praise. “These poems, urban and urbane, offbeat and stringent, welcome the reader with a beguiling lucidity.” The Times Literary Supplement recently published her poem “Lady.” Prikryl is the senior editor of poetry at the New York Review of Books. In Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die: Bioethics and the Transformation of Health Care in America (Liveright, 2019), Amy Gutmann ’71, PhD ’76 and Jonathan D. Moreno examine the disconnect between ever-expanding medical research in the United States and the level of care received by most Americans. Kirkus Reviews calls it “an academic, illuminating assessment of the past, present, and future forms of responsible public health care.” Sharon Marcus RI ’18 has published The Drama of Celebrity (Princeton Universi-


p So far this year, Radcliffe affiliates have published books of poetry, memoir, social science, children’s literature, and much more.

ty Press, 2019), a book that took shape during her Radcliffe fellowship. In it, she challenges the assumption that our celebrity obsession is a fairly modern development by drawing on diaries, scrapbooks, and fan mail to trace celebrity culture back to the 19th century, when the public followed the exploits of chefs, poets, and stage actors such as Sarah Bernhardt. “By highlighting Bernhardt’s agency and stamina, Marcus aims to overturn the elite intellectual position that the media is largely responsible for creating celebrities who are mere commodities,” says a New York Times book review, which goes on to call Marcus “a brilliant theorist and analyst of theater history.” The online community Alma named the book to its list of favorite books for summer 2019.

pExuberance: Poems (Red Hen Press, 2019) is the third poetry collection from Dolores Hayden MAR ’72, BI ’77. For it, she draws inspiration from the daredevil pilots of the earliest days of flight. “Hayden brings to life a rollicking cast of birdmen and birdwomen, showmen and stunt pilots, producers and profiteers—and their entranced audiences and riders too,” said Katha Pollitt ’71 in advance praise. Jill Lepore AM ’03, BI ’00, RI ’20, the Perrin Moorhead Grayson and Bruns Grayson Fellow, has published This America: The Case for the Nation (Liveright, 2019), of which a New York Times review says, “Jill Lepore has written a thoughtful and passionate defense of her vision of American patriotism as a purified liberalism.” The book is based on essays she previously published in Foreign Affairs and the New Yorker. Some parts of our past are better off forgotten, argues Lewis Hyde RI ’14 in his latest book, A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019), which was his Radcliffe fellowship project. In it, he juxtaposes “anecdotes, stories, meditations, and aphorisms about the meaning of forgetfulness,” says Kirkus Reviews. “Illustrated with artwork from an imaginary Museum of Forgetting, the author’s collage of entries comes from a rich trove of philosophy, mythology, ancient and modern


literature, religion, psychology, art, and history as well as his own life, including witnessing his mother’s dementia.” Harper’s Magazine featured an excerpt of the book in its June 2019 issue.

pSusan Levenstein ’68 planned to spend only a year in Italy after finishing her medical training. Spoiler alert: she stayed. She has now published Dottoressa: An American Doctor in Rome (Paul Dry Books, 2019), a memoir about her four decades practicing medicine there. “A funny and endearing but also deadly serious memoir of the Italian health care system by an astute and caring outsider,” said a Booklist review. pA Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2019), by Russell Muirhead ’88, PhD ’96, RI ’06 and Nancy L. Rosenblum ’69, PhD ’73, BI ’88, examines how today’s conspiracism differs from conspiracy theories past: its claims have no grounding in fact, are presented without regard for evidence, and become established through sheer repetition. “Muirhead and Rosenblum have pointed out something genuinely new and disturbing, but in an appropriately careful, levelheaded way,” reads a review in New York magazine’s Intelligencer. “Just one of many reasons this is a book worth reading, even if it doesn’t make for a particularly happy story. . . . I’d recommend it to anyone disturbed by what’s going on.”

pA new picture book from Natascha Biebow RPC ’93, The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019), is a child-friendly biography of Edwin Binney, who invented the wax crayon. “Readers are likely to be fascinated by the process of ‘grinding, grinding, grinding up rocks and minerals into fine powders’ and the rich colors that result,” Publishers Weekly said in a review. “Back matter is attention-grabbing as well, with photographs of crayon production today.” Joy Foundation Fellow Katie Ann-Marie Bugyis RI ’19 reconstructs the history of Benedictine nuns by examining their



Roxane Zand ’75 has recently coauthored, with Sussan Babaie, Geometry and Art in the Modern Middle East (Skira, 2019), a comprehensive survey of Islamic geometry in modern and contemporary art. Zand, who began her career at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, is now a senior director and deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East.

Beth Luey ’67, AM ’68 has published At Home: Historic Houses of Eastern Massachusetts (University of Massachusetts Press, 2019), which focuses on eight of the Commonwealth’s most storied homes, including Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, in Concord, and Mary Baker Eddy’s home in Chestnut Hill. Said the Boston Globe in a review, “Each piece is its own little biography, not just of the house, but of the lives that took place there.” Benjamin Markovits RI ’09 has published an eighth novel, A Weekend in New York (Faber & Faber, 2019). The book follows various members of the Essinger family as they gather in New York to watch one of the sons, Paul, play in the US Open, and the Daily Mail calls it “intimate, funny, and agile enough to capture the ever-shifting sands on which family life is built . . . masterfully done.”


Shining a Spotlight on Black Fashion In late June, Tanisha C. Ford RI ’19, the Lisa Goldberg Fellow, published Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion (St. Martin’s Press, 2019). “A professor and pop-culture observer finds insight behind the statement, ‘clothes are never just garments,’” said Kirkus Reviews. “An entertaining coming-of-age memoir from ‘a proud dashiki daughter, dressed in my own dreams.’” Dressed in Dreams, chosen by Bitch Media this spring as one of the 15 nonfiction books that feminists should read, is a memoir–fashion history hybrid. Ford also contributed to Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019), the first monograph devoted to the career of the noted photographer, who also cofounded the African Jazz Arts Society and Studios, an artists’ collective, and Grandassa Models, an agency for black women. CNN, Hyperallergic, and New York magazine’s The Cut all quoted Ford in their coverage of the exhibition and the accompanying book. For “To Understand Us, Pay Attention to the Outfits,” which appeared in the Atlantic, Ford spoke with the costume designer of the hit film Us, Kym Barrett, about the clues hidden in her wardrobe choices. She also appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition to comment on the societal impact of the new fashion line created for LVMH Moët Hennessy–Louis Vuitton by the pop singer, actress, and beauty mogul Rihanna. (The Paris-based ready-to-wear line Fenty will be the first LVMH label led by a woman of color.) Previously, Ford—fast becoming a go-to expert on fashion and the African American experience—wrote a tribute to the fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes as part of the New York Times series Overlooked, which honors “remarkable black men and women who never received obituaries in the New York Times—until now.”


In The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter (Simon & Schuster, 2018), the theoretical physicist Paul J. Steinhardt RI ’13 chronicles his search for a naturally occurring quasicrystal, which he explains as an exotic state of matter whose atomic structure has a symmetry that was thought to be impossible. A review in Nature described the quest—which included run-ins with Kremlin agents, a 10-day trip to a restricted area of Russia, and a cat—as “real-world scientific derring-do.” Steinhardt shared the story in a presentation during his fellowship year, when he began working on this popular book. My Brilliant Friends: Our Lives in Feminism (Columbia University Press, 2019), by Nancy K. Miller BI ’81, is a group biography that details Miller’s friendships with her fellow scholars and literary critics Carolyn Heilbrun BI ’77, Diane Middlebrook BI ’83, and Naomi Schor AM ’95. “A stunning elegy to the intimacy of friendships among women, and a book in which closeness is felt through the act of thinking,” said a Booklist review.


surviving liturgical books in The Care of Nuns: The Ministries of Benedictine Women in England during the Central Middle Ages (Oxford University Press, 2019). This year at the Institute, Bugyis continued her study of Benedictine women with a project that considers how the objects they produced, used, and valued transformed them.

The Divo and the Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America (University of California Press, 2019), by Giorgio Bertellini RI ’08, is the culmination of research he began during his Radcliffe fellowship into how the popularity of Rudolf Valentino and Benito Mussolini in the 1920s illuminates the convergence of celebrity and political authority. “This book is fantastic, an eminently readable milestone in the study of celebrity,” said Gaylyn Studlar in advance praise. “Bertellini sets a new standard for archival and analytical approaches to movie stardom in the 1920s while also illuminating the political stakes of celebrity that resonate with 21st-century culture.”

Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts (Simon & Schuster, 2019), by Jill Abramson ’76, is an account of four news organizations—Buzzfeed, the New York Times, Vice, and the Washington Post—as they grapple with a new digital landscape. “It’s partly a memoir and partly a work of investigative reporting,” says a New York Times review. “And it’s a damn good read.” Abramson, now a senior lecturer in English at Harvard, is a former executive editor of the New York Times. The best-selling author Rosellen Brown BI ’74 has published The Lake on Fire: A Novel (Sarabande Books, 2018). Described by the publisher as “an epic narrative,” it’s set in Chicago during the Gilded Age. A New York Times review praised the author’s gifts, saying, “Rosellen Brown has a great ear, a great eye, a great love of the painful twists and turns that happen in a human life and the big twists and turns of American history.” It is her first novel in nearly 18 years. Miriam Pawel ’79, a Pulitzer Prize– winning journalist, has published The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018). The biography follows a California political dynasty through four generations, starting during the Gold Rush. “This is not a comprehensive California history disguised as political biography,” says the Los Angeles Review of Books. “This is something new: a California panorama and an intimate family portrait captured in a single frame. What it reveals about the Browns more than proves the merits of the approach.” HUMA ROSENTALSKI; ATLANTICS FILM STILL

Adele Logan Alexander ’59 will soon publish Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist’s Story from the Jim Crow South (Yale University Press, 2019). The book is a biography that blends history, family stories, and literary fiction to recreate the life of the author’s grandmother, Adella Hunt Logan, a suffragist who was intersectional long before the term was born. In advance praise, Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, “Princess of the

A Cannes First With Atlantics (Atlantique) (2019), her first feature film, Mati Diop RI ’15 has made history: she is the first woman of African descent to enter the Cannes Film Festival’s competition section—and to win its Grand Prix, second only to the Palme d’Or in competition. The film—which follows a 17-year-old woman in Dakar, Senegal, as her boyfriend leaves the country by sea to find a better life—had its world premiere there. Said IndieWire of the debut, “Diop’s poetic storytelling and profound subject matter is likely to establish her as one of this year’s major breakout talents.” She worked on writing the film, originally titled Fire, Next Time, during her Radcliffe fellowship. Diop confessed to mixed feelings about her part in Cannes history: “It was sad to learn that in 2019 such a thing had never happened before—there is still a long way to go. If as a young African filmmaker I can represent a minority that still has very little access to that kind of selection, that’s a good thing,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. Her film is one of only four by women directors to appear in this year’s lineup. “What I felt that day, I had never felt it before,” Diop told CNN after the win. “It was so unique and special.”

“Atlantics takes the form of a dazzling Senegelese ghost story in which everyone’s haunted by the desire to escape,” says IndieWire of Diop’s feature debut.

Hither Isles is that rarest of breeds: a riveting African American multigenerational family saga that says something surprisingly new about our society’s still unresolved questions concerning the interfaces between race and class, color, gender and power.” In October, readers should keep an eye out for a new biography by former Dean Lizabeth Cohen AM ’97, RI ’02, Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew


Urban America in the Suburban Age (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019). The book follows the career of Edward J. Logue, a postwar city planner who believed city renewal ought to be an extension of the American New Deal. Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University. Over the summer, she published an associated New York Times opinion piece, “Only Washington Can Solve the Nation’s Housing Crisis.”



Toni Stone, a play written by Lydia R. Diamond RI ’13, made its Off Broadway debut at the Laura Pels Theater in late May, produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company. For its source material, Diamond relied on Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League (Chicago Review Press, 2010), the biography that Martha Ackmann RI ’09 wrote during her Radcliffe fellowship. The New York Times ran a feature on the play, titled “Big-League Baseball’s First Woman, on a Stage of Her Own,” shortly after its run began. Microscope Gallery, in Brooklyn, recently presented “Silent Films (1977–79),” a rare screening of six early films by Abigail Child ’68, RI ’06. The short 16 mm films were made by Child when she lived in San Francisco, and most had not been shown publicly in nearly 30 years. 5Framing Agnes (2019), a short documentary codirected by Chase Joynt and Kristen Schilt RI ’17, had its North American premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. The film, which won the

audience award for best documentary short at the 2019 Seattle Transgender Film Festival, builds on the archival work Schilt conducted during her fellowship year and is an extension of her book in progress. Kamal Aljafari RI ’10 premiered his short documentary It’s a Long Way from Amphioxus (2019) at the Berlinale 2019. The film follows asylum seekers as they try to navigate bureaucratic processes in a Berlin administrative office. Ja’Tovia Gary RI ’19, a Radcliffe-Harvard Film Study Center Fellow, appeared at the Harvard Film Archive this spring, where she presented two of her short films, An Ecstatic Experience (2015) and Giverny I (Négresse Impériale) (2017), before a showing of the Med Hondo musical West Indies (1979). Cuban Canvas (2018), a documentary by Kavery Kaul ’73, was an official selection of the Havana Film Festival New York, where it screened earlier this spring.

Art Aware Among the 75 artists and collectives whose work is included in the Whitney

Future Fossil, 2018, cedar tree trunk, rocks, roots, leaves, bark, soil, sand, plaster, cement, silicone, foam, resin, aluminum foil, electronic waste, recycled plastics (PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP, and PS), 20 ft.x14 in.x17 in.

In Framing Agnes, trans artists combine reenactment and documentary to tell never-before-seen stories of transgender people in the 1950s.

Biennial 2019 are Steffani Jemison RI ’18, Gala Porras-Kim RI ’20 (who will be the David and Roberta Logie Fellow in the fall), and the late Barbara Hammer RI ’02 (see page 42). The exhibition—which, says the Whitney Museum of American Art, “takes the pulse of the contemporary artistic moment”—is on view through September 22. 1Future Fossil, a sculpture by Clarissa Tossin RI ’18, was included in the exhibition Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas, on view at the Queens Museum through August 18. Tossin conceived and first showed the piece in Byerly Hall, and it was part of a larger exhibition—also called Future Fossil—in the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery. An installation by Beth Galston BI ’91, Luminous Garden (Wave), is on view through September 8 at the Newport Art Museum. The artwork, included in the Avant Gardens exhibition, consists of a glowing environment created by computer-controlled LEDs embedded in translucent forms cast from seedpods. Poets and Witnesses—an exhibition of work by the Berlin-based artist Bouchra Khalili RI ’18—was on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston through August 25. One of the exhibition’s highlights was her film Twenty-Two Hours (2018), about the Black Panther Party in New England and its unexpected connection to the poet Jean Genet. Khalili developed the work during her Radcliffe fellowship year.




On Stage and Screen

In conjunction with Nari Ward: We the People at the New Museum, Abigail DeVille RI ’15 joined in conversation this spring with Willie Cole (who recently showed his Beauties in the JohnsonKulukundis Family Gallery, in Byerly Hall—see page 38) and Shinique Smith to talk about found and repurposed objects within the framework of African American history and art. DeVille’s own art often incorporates repurposed materials scavenged near the site of installation, so each piece is unique to its locale. Her 10,000-square-foot installation The American Future, which included a pyramid constructed from thousands of back issues of the local paper Street Roots, was on view at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art this past winter. Janet Echelman ’87 unveiled a new aerial sculpture, Earthtime 1.26. Made from more than 31 miles of twine, the artwork spanned 160 feet and laced directly into the architecture of the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, where it was on view this summer. It was part of the hotel’s new global art program, Art in Resonance, curated by the New York–based Isolde Brielmaier and Bettina Prentice. Jessica Bardsley RIGF ’19, PhD ’19, the Arleen Carlson and Edna Nelson Graduate Fellow, took part in Into Place: Capstone Projects in Critical Media Practice, an inaugural exhibition of capstone projects by graduating students and recent alumni in the critical media practice PhD program.

Grace Notes


Houston Grand Opera recently staged The Phoenix, based on the life of the Mozart librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. Tarik O’Regan RI ’05 composed the new opera, and the Texas Classical Review said of the music, “O’Regan’s score is a chameleon, shifting styles in a way that amplifies the story’s changes of locale and circumstance.”

Public Life Elizabeth McCracken RI ’09 appeared on Season 4 of the podcast Recommend-

Using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87, scientists obtained the first image of a black hole. It provides the strongest evidence to date for the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window onto the study of black holes, their event horizons, and gravity.

ed, Book Riot’s book review podcast “featuring interesting people talking about their favorite books.” In the episode, she talks about The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields, and The Passion, by Jeanette Winterson. See a review of McCracken’s latest novel on page 36. 1In the spring, scientists of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) made public the first-ever image of a black hole. EHT researchers—located around the world and including Dimitrios Psaltis RI ’17, who serves as project scientist, and Feryal Özel PhD ’02, RI ’13, a member of its science council—announced the discovery in a series of coordinated press conferences and a series of six papers published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters (Vol. 875). A’Lelia Bundles ’74 delivered a keynote address at the 45th national conference and annual meeting of the American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity. The meeting, which took place in Indianapolis during several days in June, was titled “Moving Beyond Diversity toward Equity and Inclusion.” Bundles is the author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Scribner, 2001), a biography of her greatgreat-grandmother that will soon result in a Netflix series. She is currently working


on a book about her great-grandmother, “The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance.” Earlier this year, Jonathan Guyer RI ’18 was named the new managing editor of the American Prospect. There, he has been writing about the Middle East and American policy toward the region in articles such as “The Last Human Rights Defender in the Emirates” and “Needed: A US Policy on Saudi Arabia.” On the heels of her New York Times article “When Is ‘Civility’ a Duty, and When Is It a Trap?”—which appeared late last year—ZZ Packer RI ’15, a novelist and fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, appeared on PBS’s The Open Mind. There, she expanded on her published piece in a wide-ranging conversation with Alexander Heffner that touched on such topics as civic disobedience, the role of fiction in the current moment, philosophy, and the meaning of civility. The interview is available online. Peter Behrens RI ’16 appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, relaying the story of a young Guatemalan man who risked everything to illegally enter the United States in search of a better life for his family back home.




Heaven(s) and Earth Joanne Baker, who has a PhD in astrophysics, is a London-based comment editor at the journal Nature. This upcoming academic year, as the 2019–2020 Edward, Frances, and Shirley B. Daniels Fellow, she will research and write  A Cultural History of the Cosmos (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). The book will incorporate science, history, and culture and present a global perspective on human relationships to the heavens. Mold breakers, pioneers, and strong women.

Which trait do you most admire in yourself? Perspective. I like to stand back and see all sides to an issue.

Who is your muse? Or what: a nice glass of beer or wine in the company of my friends.

Tell us a favorite memory. Diving with a shoal of hump-headed Maori wrasses off the Great Barrier Reef. After touring beds of coral and swimming with reef sharks, we drifted back up to the surface, floating weightless within a slow-swirling vortex of fish pierced by shafts of sunlight.

Describe yourself in six words or fewer. Independent, curious, creative, adventurous, humorous, open.

What is your most treasured possession?

ture, walking by or swimming in the sea, lying in the sun on cliff tops. Going to see exhibitions, plays, and music keeps ideas flowing.

Name a pet peeve. People walking into you on the street while glued to their mobile phones.

Were your life to become a motion picture, who would portray you?

What is your greatest triumph so far? I see life as an ongoing process of growth and broadening rather than a list of achievements and hurdles. But I am proud that I managed to get a PhD after attending average schools in a remote part of the far west of England. At one time, my family was the most southwesterly in the UK.

Why a cultural history of astronomy?

Whose tunes do you enjoy?

Past peoples were more familiar than we are with the visual “landmarks” of the night sky. They used it as a “book”—of myths and instructions for living, navigation, hunting, and farming. Today, people know it differently: as a place

What inspires you?

I love almost all types of music, from Bartók to Béla Fleck and Captain Beefheart. At the moment, I am listening to folk and bluegrass.

Travel, being outside in na-

What is your fantasy career?

My banjo. I’m still learning, but just hearing the instrument makes me smile.

It would be lots of fun to be a satirical political cartoonist in these times. Or else perhaps head of the UN, to encourage much bigger thinking to fix even some of the problems the planet faces.

Juliet Binoche, who somehow manages to encapsulate grace, humor, and depth in the people she plays.


I want to explore that sense of fascination many people, including myself, have with the night sky and how this has changed over the years and from place to place.

How has the way people view the cosmos changed over time?


of fear and novelty, a new frontier to seek resources, its deep mathematical secrets guarded by a few experts. It seems that scientists make new discoveries about the universe with increasing frequency.

A decade after earning your PhD in astrophysics, you earned a master’s in landscape architecture. What drew you to this field? My interest in nature, writ large, and design drew me to study landscape architecture, initially in extension courses and then for a part-time degree, so that I could potentially practice. It’s a fantastic field with huge scope. But then I was fortunate to get a great job in science publishing, which offers me a grand vista of research and a chance to help shape fields and their impacts on the world through words.

To see a full list of 2019–2020 fellows, visit www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/fellowship-program.


Who are your heroes?



The Library Charges into the Future


The Schlesinger Library’s extensive renovation is coming to a close, and the venerable institution will soon be joining us in the 21st century. p Since November, researchers and staff members have been scattered across the Radcliffe campus. The research librarians found a temporary home in Fay House, where—despite off-site storage and space constraints—they continued to assist researchers in the temporary reading room in the Sheerr Room, while curators, archivists, and catalogers continued their acquisition and processing of collections in the Bunting Quad, down on Concord Avenue. p Now the improved Library, one befitting modern research needs, is set to reopen on September 12. Visitors will find new teaching spaces; a larger, state-of-theart gallery; and a digital research room where researchers and students can access collections. p And for those who prefer good, old-fashioned handling of primary source materials, the Pforzheimer Reading Room awaits.

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Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Lia and William Poorvu Gallery, Schlesinger Library Monday–Saturday, 9 AM–5 PM onviewatradcliffe.org

Profile for The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Radcliffe Magazine Summer 2019  

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is a unique space within Harvard—a school dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas...

Radcliffe Magazine Summer 2019  

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is a unique space within Harvard—a school dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas...