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Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters”/Virtual Author Event with Kim Todd

Monday, April 19 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Join us for a virtual author event with Kim Todd!

About Sensational: In the waning years of the nineteenth century, women journalists across the United States risked reputation and their own safety to expose the hazardous conditions under which many Americans lived and worked. In various disguises, they stole into sewing factories to report on child labor, fainted in the streets to test public hospital treatment, posed as lobbyists to reveal corrupt politicians. Inventive writers whose in-depth narratives made headlines for weeks at a stretch, these “girl stunt reporters” changed laws, helped launch a labor movement, championed women’s rights, and redefined journalism for the modern age.

The 1880s and 1890s witnessed a revolution in journalism as publisher titans like Hearst and Pulitzer used weapons of innovation and scandal to battle it out for market share. As they sought new ways to draw readers in, they found their answer in young women flooding into cities to seek their fortunes. When Nellie Bly went undercover into Blackwell’s Insane Asylum for Women and emerged with a scathing indictment of what she found there, the resulting sensation created opportunity for a whole new wave of writers. In a time of few jobs and few rights for women, here was a path to lives of excitement and meaning.

After only a decade of headlines and fame, though, these trailblazers faced a vicious public backlash. Accused of practicing “yellow journalism,” their popularity waned until “stunt reporter” became a badge of shame. But their influence on the field of journalism would arc across a century, from the Progressive Era “muckraking” of the 1900s to the personal “New Journalism” of the 1960s and ’70s, to the “immersion journalism” and “creative nonfiction” of today. Bold and unconventional, these writers changed how people would tell stories forever.

Kim Todd is an award-winning author of three books, including Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotic Species in American, winner of the PEN/Jerard Award and the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, and Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis. Her essays and articles have appeared in SmithsonianSalonSierra Magazine, and Orion. The issue of Smithsonian containing “Those Magnifcent Women and Their Typing Machines” was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Todd’s work was selected by Rebecca Skloot for inclusion in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015 and has been featured on NPR’s Science Friday. Todd teaches on the MFA faculty at the University of Minnesota, and has given lectures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Yale University, Bowdoin, the University of California at Davis, the Getty Museum, the New England Aquarium, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Denver Botanical Garden, among other places. Todd is a senior fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program and lives in Minneapolis with her family.

Co-sponsored by the Avon Library and Avon Historical Society.

Please register and a Zoom link will be sent out before the event.


Monday, April 19
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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