New England Biography Series

The New England Biography Series is a forum for writers and readers alike to engage in an ongoing discussion about the historical, literary, and methodological questions that make biography a challenging and rewarding undertaking. By providing an opportunity for those interested in the craft of biography to convene and converse, the seminar creates a community that will support biographical works in progress and help inspire future projects.

 

Leading authors of the genre will offer their insights and inspiration in a setting designed to generate conversation between panelists and the audience. This seminar will feature roundtable discussions rather than focus on pre-circulated papers or formal remarks. Plan to make new acquaintances and continue the conversation by joining us for a reception with light refreshments that follows each program.

 

We invite you to support this ongoing series as a subscriber. Subscribers help to underwrite the cost of planning and presenting this free series, including the reception that follows each program.

 

Join the mailing list today by emailing seminars@masshist.org.

 

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship.Subscribe

 

Schedule

November 2020
Biography Seminar How We Go On: Three Lives of Persistence, Resistance, and Resilience 12 November 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Nicholas Basbanes; Kimberly Hamlin, Miami University; John Loughery Julie Dobrow, Tufts University The New England Biography Series begins with a discussion of three recent biographies, published ...

The New England Biography Series begins with a discussion of three recent biographies, published during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we know from the months of uncertainty we’ve all lived through so far, there are lessons about persistence, resistance and resilience to be learned from looking at the past. Tufts University professor Julie Dobrow, author of After Emily, will chair a panel featuring Nicholas Basbanes (Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), Kimberly Hamlin (Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener) and John Loughery (Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century) to explore how their subjects prevailed in times of personal tragedy and public dissent, and how the authors learned to apply the lessons of their subjects to their own trials and travails as writers.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
March 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/biography_banner.jpg Biography Seminar Marriage of Minds or Boston Divorce? The lives and good works of Caroline Healey Dall and Rev. Charles Henry Appleton Dall on two continents 25 March 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Neilesh Bose, University of Victoria; Helen R. Deese, Caroline Healey Dall Editor, Massachusetts Historical Society Moderator: Megan Marshall, Emerson College Caroline Healey Dall (1822-1912) and Charles Henry Appleton Dall (1816-1886) met in Boston where, as ...

Caroline Healey Dall (1822-1912) and Charles Henry Appleton Dall (1816-1886) met in Boston where, as a teenager in Margaret Fuller’s Conversations, Caroline learned to ask “all the great questions of life.” The handsome but sickly Charles graduated from Harvard with Henry Thoreau and was influenced by Joseph Tuckerman’s ministry to the poor. Marrying in 1844, the couple struggled to find their footing as Charles took a series of ministerial jobs, each punctuated by a period of illness. When Charles left Caroline and their two children in 1855 to establish a Unitarian mission in Calcutta, drawn to the Brahmo Samaj and the Indian nationalist cause, his health improved. “Separated by half the earth,” historian Spencer Lavan writes, “their careers began to blossom.” Caroline emerged as a vehement writer and lecturer on abolition, women’s rights, and social science. Bose and Deese will effect a 21st-century reconciliation, putting into conversation a couple whose divergence led to lives of distinctive activism, documented in Caroline’s extensive journals held at the MHS.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
April 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/biography_banner.jpg Biography Seminar Fashioning a Life: How Style Matters in Biography 29 April 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Caroline Weber, Barnard College; Channing Joseph, University of Southern California Moderator: Natalie Dykstra, Hope College Is fashion art or commerce? Frivolous or full of meaning? Is fashion evidence? This panel brings ...

Is fashion art or commerce? Frivolous or full of meaning? Is fashion evidence? This panel brings together Caroline Weber, author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie-Antoinette Wore to the Revolution and Proust’s Duchess, and Channing Joseph, whose forthcoming book recovers the untold story of formerly enslaved William Dorsey Swann, who became, in the 1880s, a progenitor of ballroom and drag culture. They will join moderator Natalie Dykstra, author of Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life, and now at work on a biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner, in a conversation about the ways biographers use fashion to decode lives and historical contexts. 

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
Biography Seminar How We Go On: Three Lives of Persistence, Resistance, and Resilience 12 November 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Nicholas Basbanes; Kimberly Hamlin, Miami University; John Loughery Julie Dobrow, Tufts University

Watch the recording of this event, embedded below:

The New England Biography Series begins with a discussion of three recent biographies, published during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we know from the months of uncertainty we’ve all lived through so far, there are lessons about persistence, resistance and resilience to be learned from looking at the past. Tufts University professor Julie Dobrow, author of After Emily, will chair a panel featuring Nicholas Basbanes (Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), Kimberly Hamlin (Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener) and John Loughery (Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century) to explore how their subjects prevailed in times of personal tragedy and public dissent, and how the authors learned to apply the lessons of their subjects to their own trials and travails as writers.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

Biography Seminar Marriage of Minds or Boston Divorce? The lives and good works of Caroline Healey Dall and Rev. Charles Henry Appleton Dall on two continents 25 March 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Neilesh Bose, University of Victoria; Helen R. Deese, Caroline Healey Dall Editor, Massachusetts Historical Society Moderator: Megan Marshall, Emerson College Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/biography_banner.jpg

Watch the recording of this event, embedded below:

Caroline Healey Dall (1822-1912) and Charles Henry Appleton Dall (1816-1886) met in Boston where, as a teenager in Margaret Fuller’s Conversations, Caroline learned to ask “all the great questions of life.” The handsome but sickly Charles graduated from Harvard with Henry Thoreau and was influenced by Joseph Tuckerman’s ministry to the poor. Marrying in 1844, the couple struggled to find their footing as Charles took a series of ministerial jobs, each punctuated by a period of illness. When Charles left Caroline and their two children in 1855 to establish a Unitarian mission in Calcutta, drawn to the Brahmo Samaj and the Indian nationalist cause, his health improved. “Separated by half the earth,” historian Spencer Lavan writes, “their careers began to blossom.” Caroline emerged as a vehement writer and lecturer on abolition, women’s rights, and social science. Bose and Deese will effect a 21st-century reconciliation, putting into conversation a couple whose divergence led to lives of distinctive activism, documented in Caroline’s extensive journals held at the MHS.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

Biography Seminar Fashioning a Life: How Style Matters in Biography 29 April 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Caroline Weber, Barnard College; Channing Joseph, University of Southern California Moderator: Natalie Dykstra, Hope College Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/biography_banner.jpg

Is fashion art or commerce? Frivolous or full of meaning? Is fashion evidence? This panel brings together Caroline Weber, author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie-Antoinette Wore to the Revolution and Proust’s Duchess, and Channing Joseph, whose forthcoming book recovers the untold story of formerly enslaved William Dorsey Swann, who became, in the 1880s, a progenitor of ballroom and drag culture. They will join moderator Natalie Dykstra, author of Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life, and now at work on a biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner, in a conversation about the ways biographers use fashion to decode lives and historical contexts. 

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close