NORTHAMPTON, Mass – Next week at Smith College, three renowned writers will discuss the role of social class in their lives, and what compels them to create work that touches upon the issues of class and privilege.
Authors Adrian Nicole LeBlanc ’86 and Lorene Cary, and playwright and performer Anna Deavere Smith will discuss “Narratives Across Class” at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, in the Carroll Room of the Campus Center.
The topic speaks pertinently to Smith’s students, who come from a diversity of socio-economic backgrounds
“Smith has a highly diverse student body and many students experience their transition to Smith as a narrative across social class,” said Maureen Mahoney, dean of the college. “Socio-economic differences influence friendships, career aspirations and work, yet class is often a taboo subject on campus.”
LeBlanc’s first book “Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx” portrays poverty in a direct, unsentimental light and was the result of a decade spent closely involved in the lives of her subjects. LeBlanc grew up in Leominster, Mass., a small factory town near Boston. Her father was a union organizer and her mother worked in a drug rehab center. She studied sociology at Smith and earned a master of philosophy and modern literature at Oxford University in 1988. In 2006, LeBlanc was named a MacArthur Fellow.
Cary’s first book, “Black Ice,” is a memoir of her years first as a black female student, and then teacher, at St. Paul’s, an exclusive New England boarding school. She graduated from St. Paul’s School in 1974 and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. She won a Thouron Fellowship for British-U.S. student exchange and studied at Sussex University. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received the 1998 Provost’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 2003, Cary received the Philadelphia Award, a Philadelphia Historical Society Founder’s Medal for History in Culture.
Deavere Smith uses solo performance as a public medium to explore issues of race, identity and community in America. The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize nominated writer, performer, and professor is best known for her "documentary theatre" style in plays such as Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Both of the plays featured Smith as the sole performer of multiple and diverse characters. She is a University Professor at New York University where she is appointed in the Tisch School of the Arts. A recipient of the MacArthur Award in 1996, Smith has also appeared numerous television shows.
Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,800 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.