Sad to hear that Deirdre Bair, who wrote the first major biography of Samuel Beckett, has died at the age of 84. Her work continues to exert an influence on contemporary Beckett scholarship, to say nothing of its inspiration to modern practitioners and performers of his writing. She also wrote a biographies of Simone de Beauvoir, Anaïs NinCarl JungSaul Steinberg and Al Capone. Most recently, she was the author of Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir and Me – a Memoir. She will be sorely missed.

Neil Genzlinger has written an obituary for Bair in The New York Times.

“The New York Public Library is propelling classic literature to the forefront of technology with a series of Insta Novels — stories on Instagram intended to reach to a larger audience, especially young readers.”

The New York Times

“A spate of women-authored speculative fiction imagines detailed worlds of widespread infertility, criminalized abortion, and flipped power dynamics”

The Atlantic

“[Jonathan] Demme’s dive into the deviant undercurrents of America at the end of the Reagan-Bush era gripped audiences who had been primed by another auteur’s breaking of the barriers between art and exploitation. Moody and visceral as no prime-time series had ever been before, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990–91) was a twisted tale founded on the naked corpse of a teenage girl—Laura Palmer. A quarter of a century later, viewers who had been bingeing on the original Twin Peaks as it was released on various digital platforms along with its prequel, the theatrical feature Fire Walk with Me (1992), avidly consumed Twin Peaks: The Return during its eighteen-episode run on Showtime, finding themselves trapped in a wormhole, also known as the Lynchian unconscious, where the homicidal law of the father is forever unchecked and unchanged. The return of Twin Peaks roughly coincided with the appearance of a new restoration of The Silence of the Lambs in theaters, and now in this release. This dialectician of gender in popular culture relishes the timing. […] One major thing that distinguishes Demme’s film from Twin Peaks—and from the vast majority of serial-killer investigative dramas, including those of another contemporary auteur, David Fincher—is the fact that his hero is a woman. “

The Criterion Collection

Celebrating the women’s civil rights movement

Today marks International Women’s Day, which has commemorated the struggle for women’s civil rights throughout the twentieth century. The day was originally known as International Working Women’s Day, and for most of its history has been connected with socialist movements and communist states such as China and Soviet Russia. In the mid-1970s, during the height of Second Wave Feminism, the UN recognised International Women’s Day and invited its member states to do the same.

Reads for IWD 2018

“The TV adaptation of her dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale captured the political moment. Ahead of a new series, Atwood talks bestsellers, bonnets and the backlash against her views on #MeToo” — The Guardian

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Kim Rae Taylor, Peggy Guggenheim, 1898–1979. Oil on birch panel, 12 x 12″, 2015

Jade French talks to artist, educator, and feminist Kim Rae Taylor about The Modernism Project, a series of painted portraits documenting some of the leading women of twentieth-century modernism. When asked what prompted the work, Taylor responded:

“My primary area of interest is the modernist period, and about three years ago I began to take notice of just how many women lived long lives, beyond the designated period of twentieth century Modernism. I wanted to learn more about the work from their later years and this became something of a visual quest because I was just so curious to see how they looked as elderly women. Once I had a running file of images, I started making these loose pencil sketches, but then a 1967 photo of Peggy Guggenheim, by photographer Ron Galella, really grabbed my attention. I was intrigued by the confrontational way she stared into the camera’s lens, without her usual oversized sunglasses, and I loved this idea that she was reversing the gaze. It felt powerful to me in an unexpected way.”

— Medium

Free public exhibition at Cardiff University on 20 November 2017, 5.30pm

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Women in Trousers: A Visual Archive, offers a gallery of images from 1850-1960 that together tells part of the story of women in trousers as a history of women’s social, political and cultural protest and change. From Joan of Arc to George Sand, Mary Edwards Walker to Marlene Dietrich and Colette to Coco Chanel, trouser-wearing women have been associated with transgressive acts of protest and play. Linked with periods of social and political upheaval, women’s liberation, radical thought, aesthetic innovation and erotic freedom, trouser-wearing women have historically represented an illegitimate assumption of male authority and power – of ‘wearing the trousers’ – that destabilises fixed notions of sexual difference and threatens the very fabric of the social order.”

Visit the Eventbrite page to book your free ticket.