Moxie and a Good Sense of Balance: Nancy Drew and the Power of the Teenage Girl w/author Lynne Byall Benson

Moxie and a Good Sense of Balance: Nancy Drew and the Power of the Teenage Girl. Book presentation given by author Lynne Byall Benson; hosted by the Friends of the Charlestown Branch of the Boston Public Library. Free and open to all, including a book signing and reception.

Lynne Byall Benson’s new book Moxie and a Good Sense of Balance: Nancy Drew and the Power of the Teenage Girl starts with: “Nancy Drew first saved the day on April 28, 1930, when she found the missing will, bested the interlopers, and set all to right in The Secret of the Old Clock.” Anyone growing up inspired by the Nancy Drew mysteries will be in earnest to continue past that first sentence.

The literary character of Nancy Drew, created by the Stratemeyer publishing syndicate in the 1930s, has continued to endure for more than eighty years, with all the books still in print. Successfully solving complicated mysteries, Nancy Drew offered girls the role model of a confident, independent young woman, functioning simultaneously within what was considered appropriate, within the sphere of her gender, but also outside of that sphere in terms of her so-called moxie.

Nancy Drew’s portrayal in these books has changed over the years, reflecting changing social norms, becoming a more obedient and less independent in the 1940s, as women returned to traditional roles after World War II. Surprisingly, the Nancy Drew of the 1970s and 1980s did not reflect the changes brought about by the women’s movement and instead was transformed into a glamorous, globe-trotting professional private investigator in The Nancy Drew Files.

The publishers soon came to their senses and brought back the plucky Nancy of old. Her cars can almost serve as a metaphor of how her character has morphed over time. Nancy first started out driving a blue roadster in the early volumes. In the 1970s, it becomes a blue convertible. Next it was a blue Ford Mustang. Then in the early 2000’s, Nancy started driving a blue Hybrid.

In Benson’s Moxie and a Good Sense of Balance: Nancy Drew and the Power of the Teenage Girl, Nancy Drew is analyzed as a proto-feminist role model. In addition, Benson also provides a comprehensive bibliography of sources that can be used by scholars and teachers.

Background information:

Lynne Byall Benson is a lecturer in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UMASS Boston and also an adjunct professor in the English Department at Bunker Hill Community College.

The Friends of the Charlestown Branch of the Boston Public Library was formed in 1953, becoming the second Friends group to organize within the Boston Public Library system. The Friends schedule four to six evening programs a year, support the Reading is FUNdamental programs for children, and maintain the library’s landscaping. The mission of the Friends remains today what it was in 1953: to serve as an advocacy and support group for the needs of the Charlestown Branch Library, its staff and users.


The Suffragents: the hidden history of the men behind the struggle for women’s suffrage

Porter Square Books is pleased to welcome NYU journalism professor BROOKE KROEGER for a reading and discussion of The Suffragents.

The Suffragents is the untold story of how some of New York’s most powerful men formed the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, which grew between 1909 and 1917 from 150 founding members into a force of thousands across thirty-five states. KROEGER explores the formation of the League and the men who instigated it to involve themselves with the suffrage campaign, what they did at the behest of the movement’s female leadership, and why. Led by such luminaries as Oswald Garrison Villard, John Dewey, Max Eastman, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and George Foster Peabody, members of the League worked the streets, the stage, the press, and the legislative and executive branches of government. In the process, they helped convince waffling politicians, a dismissive public, and a largely hostile press to support the women’s demand. Together, they swayed the course of history.

This event is free and open to the public.


The Ways Women Age by Professor ABIGAIL BROOKS

Porter Square Books is pleased to host ABIGAIL BROOKS, director of the Women’s Studies Program and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Providence College, with her book exploring the identity, body image, beauty standards, and expectations of femininity.

Set against the backdrop of commercialized medicine in the United States, ABIGAIL BROOKS investigates the anti-aging craze from the perspective of women themselves, examining the rapidly changing cultural attitudes, pressures, and expectations of female aging. Drawn from in-depth interviews with women in the United States who choose, and refuse, to have cosmetic anti-aging procedures, The Ways Women Age provides a fresh understanding of how today’s women feel about aging.

This event is free and open to the public.


Feminist gamer ZOE QUINN and the fight against online hate in “Crash Override”

Brookline Booksmith welcomes ZOE QUINN, author of Crash Override: How Gamer Gate  (Nearly) Destroyed My Life. Through her story as both target and activist, QUINN delves into the controversies, threats, and cultural battles that permeate our online lives.

QUINN is a video game developer whose ex-boyfriend published a vengeful blog post cobbled together from private information, half-truths, and outright fictions, and rallied online hordes to target her. Under the guise of #gamergate, they hacked her accounts; stole nude photos of her; harassed her family, friends, and colleagues; and threatened her with rape and murder. But instead of shrinking into silence, QUINN raised her voice and spoke out against the dark side of online culture in order to make the internet a safer place for everyone.

You may purchase tickets here, but tickets are free with a pre-order of Crash Override.

CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE and THEODORA GOSS on Women in the Horror/Sci Fi Genre

Sci-fi fans, take note!  Brookline Booksmith welcomes NYT bestselling author CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE and novelist THEODORA GOSS for a discussion of females in horror/sci-fi literature.  

In their latest works, Valente and Goss write from women’s perspectives.

VALENTE’s The Refrigerator Monologues explores the a series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.

GOSS’s The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter draws characters from classic sci-fi and horror literature with a twist.  Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

This event is not ticketed.