Welcome to The Long Conversation, a live show dedicated to the crafts of writing, reading, and editing, hosted by me, Rachel Jepsen, a social creature. Our next gathering is on Friday, December 4, at 5:30 PM EST, where we’ll be discussing Helen Keller’s memoir, The Story of My Life. Keller’s journey of coming into language is astounding, her writing immaculate. I'm really looking forward to this.
Our next gathering is on Friday, December 4, at 5:30 PM EST, where we’ll be discussing a portion of Helen Keller’s memoir, The Story of My Life.
Keller’s journey of coming into language is astounding, her writing immaculate. It’s impossible to read her work without thinking about the stakesof writing and reading, of communicating with others. What motivates Keller toward language? Concretely, as you’re reading, think about what TLCs #4 and #5, and how Keller’s work is related to our discussions of the body’s role in writing—what is its role in language? How does Keller express how language comes to her through the body? This is what we will focus on in our talk.
Who was Helen Keller?
Helen Keller is one of the most badass people to have ever lived.
Born in Alabama in 1880, Keller, who was deaf and blind, worked her whole adult life as a writer, speaker, and activist. In her lectures and writings, Keller fought for the rights of people with disabilities and the rights of workers, for antimilitarism, suffrage, and other causes.
Keller was an outspoken member of the Socialist Party of America and of the Industrial Workers of the World—in her life she was regarded as one of the most important and eloquent writers and lecturers on the subject of socialism.Among many pioneering accomplishments, Keller was the first deaf and blind person to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, from Radcliffe College. She traveled the world to lecture and work, and her influence and the wide admiration she enjoyed led to many commendations and honors in and after her life, in the U.S. and abroad. Her visage can be found on coins and stamps, her life on stage and screen. Streets, hospitals, and schools bear her name. Helen Keller International continues to serve communities around the world. Keller died in 1968, at 87.
The reading (don’t panic, I shortened it)
It is entirely my fault that I didn’t email you all last week with a reminder! And not everyone has time to read 80 pages anyhow.So if you have already read the book or are planning to, great, you won’t regret it! But here’s what you can read if you want a shorter version, 35 pages (the chaps are short!):
Chapters I, IV, V, VI, VII, XII, XIII, XIV, XXI, XXII
There are also letters that chronicle Keller’s writing from the very beginning of her communication through to her entering college. Those are there for your perusal—there’s a lot to learn as you watch Keller coming into language.
Where can I get the reading?
This book is available online on Holloway, a digital publisher of which, disclosure alert, I am Managing Editor. You’ll have to create an account to access, but the entire book is free! Get the book.