Event, Panel, Past Event, Photos, Post, Undaunted, Video

Undaunted in Chicago, October 13-15, 2023

October 15, 2023


Back in Chicago—where I lived from 1972 to 1976 and have returned only rarely since—for a packed day and a half. The visit brought back a flood of memories, especially when The Hawk attacked—that WIND!—and the rain poured down, stung the ears, and chilled the bones. As soon as I arrived there was lunch on Friday with a phenomenal former student, Elizabeth Flock (this Elizabeth Flock), whose second book The Furies, drops in January. I haven’t seen her since her last book came out. As big a treat as that was, getting the chance to play itsy-bitsy-spider with her precious and well behaved two-month-old son—well, you know.

Next came dinner with Rachel Shteir, whose biography of Betty Friedan is out already and whom I had seen not 48 hours earlier in New York City for a panel discussion of Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, which turned 60 this year. How many books can you think of that get this kind of commemoration a half a century (and now a decade more) after publication? I can think of four, all by women, noted in Undaunted and in this post on that very theme.  Lynn Povich organized the panel with Lynn Sherr, Muriel Fox (a co-founder of NOW), Brittney Cooper, and Rebecca Traister at the West 76th Street JCC. I snapped these photos. It was a rousing conversation, unfortunately not recorded, with the big takeaway: Never let defeat defeat.

In Chicago Saturday morning, the day started with a breakfast catch-up with Cecilia Nowell, another talented and beloved former student, one of my GloJos. She’s a health journalism fellow this year under the auspices of JAWS, the Journalism and Women Symposium that brought me to town for an author panel later in the day. Cecilia and her fellow fellows presented on their excellent projects. I recorded Cecilia’s about her work in New Mexico, which we all should know about:

Just before the health fellows presentations, a big JAWS camp highlight was a Q&A of The 19th*’s Karen Hawkins with Katherine Spillar, the Feminist Majority Foundation chief and executive editor of Ms. magazine. She appeared in connection with the publication of a new book that compiles the magazine’s most ground-breaking stories titled 50 Years of Ms. She left no doubt about the significant role the magazine has played and continues to play. I’m glad I recorded her responses, which may be a bit out of order so please forgive that, but they are really important to hear:

Next for me was the Saturday evening JAWS “Books & Browse panel” (Here is the press release about our panel, issued in late June.) With me were Mona Gable, author of Searching for Savanna: The Murder of One Native American Woman and the Violence Against Many; Bonnie Newman Davis, author of Truth Tellers: The Power and Presence of Black Women Journalists Since 1960; Rachel Louise Snyder, author of Women We Buried; Women We Burned, and a delightful late addition, Diana B. Henriques, author of Taming the Street: The Old Guard, the New Deal, and FDR’s Fight to Regulate American Capitalism. Our moderator was Katherine Lanpher, a senior editor at Grist. Here we are, all in a row, as Diana astonished us by making the SEC seem so sexy.

L to R: Katherine Lanpher, Bonnie Newman Davis, me, Mona Gable, Rachel Louise Snyder, Diana B. Henriques

After the book signings, Rachel and I headed out to find a good place to eat (she being a Chicago native) and we ended up in The Cherry Circle, which turned out to be worth it for the food and the scene. Take a look:

Clayton Hauck for Land and Sea Dept.

As we wended our way to the restaurant through the noisy-crazy-busy-now-gaming rooms of the old Chicago Athletic Club, and found the discreet neon triangle above the Cherry Circle’s entrance, Rachel noted how hip-adjacent the choice had made us. It was fun getting to know her.

So in short: Fifty hours of friends and feminism, old and some new.

with Rachel Louise Snyder