- December 7, 2022
- 6:00 pm
- Online (PST)
Event Time in PST, find the start time in your time zone.
Important Event Information
- This event will be streamed live online with an interactive Q&A.
- This event will be recorded on our YouTube channel.
- Portions of the audio will be released on our podcast.
Between 2016 and 2018, essayist and humor writer Elissa Bassist saw over 20 medical professionals for a variety of mysterious ailments. Elissa had what millions of American women had: pain that didn’t make sense to doctors, a body that didn’t make sense to science, and a psyche that didn’t make sense to mankind. Then an acupuncturist suggested some of her physical pain could be caged fury finding expression, and that treating her voice would treat the problem. It did.
In her new memoir Hysterical, Elissa shares how growing up, her family, boyfriends, school, work, and television all had the same expectation for a woman’s voice: less is more. She was called dramatic and insane for speaking her mind, accused of overreacting and playing the victim for having unexplained physical pain and was ignored or rebuked like women throughout history for using her voice “inappropriately” in expressing sadness or suffering or anger or joy. Because of this, she said “yes” when she meant “no,” she didn’t tweet #MeToo, and she never spoke without fear of being "too emotional." So, she felt rage, but like a “good woman” she repressed it.
Join Elissa along with novelist and CIIS professor in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing Carolyn Cooke for an empowering conversation exploring how girls and women internalize and perpetuate directives about their voice, making it hard to emote or “just speak up” and “burn down the patriarchy.” Elissa shares her journey of a voice lost and found and discusses new ways to think about a woman’s voice—where it’s being squashed and where it needs amplification.
Elissa encourages those who feel like their voices have been lost—especially girls and women—to unmute their voice, listen to it above all others, and use it again and again without regret.
Elissa Bassist is an essayist, humor writer, and editor of the “Funny Women” column on The Rumpus. As a founding contributor to The Rumpus, she’s written cultural, feminist, and personal criticism since the website launched in 2009. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, Creative Nonfiction, The New Yorker, Longreads, and more, including the anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay. Currently, she teaches writing at The New School, Catapult, 92nd Street Y, and Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn and is probably her therapist’s favorite.
Carolyn Cooke’s books include Amor & Psycho, Daughters of the Revolution, and The Bostons. Her fiction has also appeared in AGNI, New England Review, the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Best American Short Stories, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. A first recipient of the PEN/Robert Bingham Award, she has also won fellowships and awards from Breadloaf, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Djerassi Foundation, MacDowell, Ucross, the Vermont Studio Center, and Yaddo. Cooke is a professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing (MFA) at CIIS.
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