Important Update: 92Y remains open
Does not include service & handling fees, if applicable.
Join cultural historian Lori Rotskoff for an interactive online book discussion series.
Explore four contemporary memoirs (all published in 2020) that revolve around family secrets. In these narratives, authors discover new information about their family backgrounds—about matters of profound consequence in their parents’ and /or grandparents’ lives—that were previously obscured or hidden from them. We will explore questions such as: how much do we know (or not know) about the parents who raised us? Why do some writers struggle to gain new insights into a family mystery, and then craft a literary narrative for exposure and publication? What insights do they offer about shame, privacy, and disclosure; the development of personal identity; the complexity of parent-child relationships; and the desire for social belonging? Other themes include aging and cognitive impairment; the bonds of marriage (or, perhaps, the ruptures of separation); race and African-American social history, the legacy of the Holocaust; immigration and ethnic identity, religion, and more.
The class will also include an opportunity to join a virtual meeting and conversation with two of the featured authors, Maya Shanbhag Lang and E. Dolores Johnson. The authors will join students live to share insights about their books and to answer questions*.
Please read the book designated before each class session:
March 23, What We Carry by Maya Shanbhag Lang, plus author appearance from 12 pm to 12:50 pm
April 6, Say I’m Dead by E. Dolores Johnson, plus author appearance from 12 pm to 12:50 pm
April 13, Missed Translations by Sopan Deb
April 27, House of Glass by Hadley Freeman
Sessions take place on Tuesdays, March 23*, April 6*, April 13, and April 27. No class will take place on March 30 or April 20.
*Special author appearances will take place outside of the regularly scheduled class time on March 23 and April 6 from 12 pm to 12:50 pm.
Programs taking place online:An access link will be emailed to you after purchase.
Programs taking place in our NYC facilities:Please read our safety guidelines before visiting our building.
Programs taking place online and in our NYC facilities:Please select which experience you wish to participate in when registering. Online participants will be emailed an access link after purchase. In-person participants should read our safety guidelines before attending the program.
Lori Rotskoff is a cultural historian. She earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale and taught for over a decade at the Barnard Center for Research on Women. She is co-editor of When We Were Free to Be and author of Love on the Rocks: Men, Women, and Alcohol in Post-World War II America. Her work has appeared in the Women’s Review of Books and many other publications.
Contemporary Memoirs: Personal Narratives of Childhood and Youth
Reckoning with Racism & Resistance in the US
Leaving the Fold: Contemporary Memoirs of Faith, Doubt, and Self-Transformation
The Power of Family: New Documentary Films in Social Context
Family Secrets in Contemporary Memoirs
Online Class with guest lecturers Professor Miles Grier and Dr. Farah Karim-Cooper