Gender and the Business of Fiction
Radcliffe Day 2014 Panel Discussion

Friday, May 30, 2014
2:15 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Yard

Who reads? Who writes? Who reviews? Who wins prizes? How does gender influence what counts as literature and how literary fiction is reviewed and received?

Panelists' Biographies

Gish Jen ’77, BI ’87, RI ’02


The author of six books, Jen has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Straus Living award, and the Lannan Literary Prize in Fiction. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic, the New Yorker, and The Best American Short Stories of the Century; her most recent book, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self is based on her 2012 Massey lectures at Harvard University. At Radcliffe in 2002, Jen worked on her novel The Love Wife. She earned her MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Ann Hulbert ’77

Books and Culture Editor, the Atlantic

Hulbert began her career at the New Republic, where as a senior editor she assigned and edited reviews and essays and wrote regularly for the magazine’s literary section. She was Slate’s literary editor and the magazine’s “Sandbox” columnist before joining the Atlantic in 2013. She has written for Harper’s, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, and the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. She is the author of The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford and Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children.

Claire Messud RI ’05


Messud has written four novels and a book of novellas, including When the World Was Steady, The Last Life, and most recently, The Woman Upstairs. Messud teaches in the MFA program at Hunter College and at Yale University. A frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, she has written for numerous publications including the Boston Globe, the Daily Telegraph (London), the Nation, the New York Times, the Times (London), and the Times Literary Supplement. As a Radcliffe fellow in 2005, Messud worked on The Emperor’s Children. She earned her BA at Yale University and her MA at Cambridge University.

Elisabeth Schmitz ’86

Vice President and Editorial Director, Grove Atlantic

Schmitz began her publishing career at Maria B. Campbell Associates as a literary scout. She joined Grove Atlantic in 1994, where she worked first as the director of subsidiary rights, while “shadow editing” projects handled by other editors. Her connections from literary scouting paid off when an agent submitted the partial manuscript of Charles Frazier’s soon-to-be-award-winning novel Cold Mountain. It was Schmitz’s first solo acquisition. She is now an executive editor at Grove Atlantic. Schmitz has been appointed a Jerusalem Book Fair fellow and a VIP fellow at the Sydney Literary Festival, and she is an annual lecturer at the Sewanee Writers Conference.

Recommended Resources

The VIDA Count 2013

Melodramas of Beset Manhood: How Theories of American Fiction Exclude Women Authors” by Nina Baym, American Quarterly (1981)

Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” by George Eliot (1856)

A Literary Glass Ceiling?” by Ruth Franklin, New Republic (2011)

My So-Called Post-Feminist Life in Arts and Letters” by Deborah Copaken Kogan, the Nation (2013)

Written Off: Jennifer Weiner’s Quest for Literary Respect” by Rebecca Mead, the New Yorker (2014)

Literature’s Gender Gap” by Laura Miller, Salon (2011)

When It Comes To Women's Writing, How Do Publications Stack Up?” by Lynn Neary, NPR (2014)

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” by Linda Nochlin, ArtNews (1971); Women, Art, and Power (Harper and Row, 1988)

Research Shows Male Writers Still Dominate Books World” by Benedicte Page, the Guardian (UK; 2011)

Scent of a Woman's Ink” by Francine Prose, Harper's (1998)

The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women” by Meg Wolitzer, the New York Times (2012)