Greil Marcus: A sweeping look at our literary history Thursday, Oct. 29, 7 p. m. Provocative cultural critic, historian, author of “Lipstick Traces,” “The Dustbin of History,” “The Shape of Things to Come” “Mystery Train” and“The Old, WeirdAmerica,” Marcus has co-edited“A New Literary History of America” with Harvard professor Werner Sollors. The book — weighing in with more than 200 original essays and more than 1,000 pages — has garnered critical applause. Here you’ll find Paul Muldoon on Carl Sandburg, Gish Jen on “The Catcher in the Rye” and Gerald Early on Tarzan. Downtown Library, Microsoft Auditorium, 1000 Fourth Ave. Information: (206) 624-6600 or (206) 386-4636.
Eva Hoffman, on the nature of “Time” Monday, Nov. 2, 7:30-9 p. m.
What is the nature of time in our own time? Sure, we live longer, but why do we feel like we have even less time? Computers, video games,
texting — what are they doing to our bodies and minds? Novelist, memoirist, historian and critic Hoffman will discuss her recent work,
“Time,” and examine the experience of being human these days. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave. $5 at www.brownpapertickets.com
or at the door beginning at 6:30 p. m.
Dale Chihuly book signing Nov. 5, 6 p. m. Master glass man Chihuly offers three books to buy so that you can get in line for his signing: “Chihuly Baskets,” Chihuly Chandeliers & Towers” and “Chihuly Putti.” First, he will discuss his work for 30 minutes. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N. E.
Teenagers take the podium Nov. 11, 7:30 p. m. Richard Hugo House provides an open mic and a supportive atmosphere for young writers between the ages of 14 and 19. It’s never too early for young writers to start finding their voices. Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave. Information: email@example.com.
Sometimes it’s difficult for us moderns to believe the grueling fight women had to wage to get the vote. Like Prohibition, the women’s suff rage movement seems a quaint part of our history until we really think about it. Then we need to remember all over again the widespread prejudices of the “good, old days” backed by law.
Next year will mark the centennial of women in this state achieving the right to vote, which required an amendment to the state constitution.
To mark the occasion, the Washington State Historical Society has published “Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices: The Campaign for Equal Rights in Washington,” a large, nicely designed paperback recounting the suff ragette saga (suff rage is from the Latin “suff ragium,” meaning to vote for or support), written by Shanna Stevenson, an Olympia-based historian.
Stevenson tells the story well, accompanied by a trove of historical photos and sidebars on people and related topics. She sets the scene by examining what was happening on the national stage — the first women’s rights convention took place at Seneca Falls, N. Y., in 1848, a watershed year when change was in the air both here and in Europe.
Catherine Paine Blaine, a participant in the convention, made her way west after the Methodist Episcopal Church called her husband to his new Seattle pastorate in 1853. This was a time of religious revival in this country, the second Great Awakening: Abolition and women’s suff rage rode the religious wave.
In Seattle, the Blaines stayed with the Arthur and Mary Ann Boren Denny family, good Methodists themselves. Shortly thereafter, as a representative to the new Washington Territory, Denny introduced the women’s suff rage legislation of 1854, which failed by a vote of 8-9.
But the die was cast. Legendary voting-rights figure Susan B. Anthony toured the Northwest in 1871, and, as Stevenson notes, in her visit to Walla Walla, “Churches refused to host Anthony, stating that she had sipped alcoholic beverages” during a meeting in Umatilla. After she left town the local newspaper summed up the movement as “worse than the small pox and chills and fever combined.”
The Equal Rights Amendment to the Washington State Constitution passed in 1972 — yes, 1972: “Equality of rights and responsibility under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.” It’s a measure of how far we’ve come when we remember this state’s top three elected officials — governor and two senators — are women.
The real news, though, lies in the fact that such a governing lineup isn’t even newsworthy. “Women’s Votes” reminds us of the heroic struggle to make that reality possible.
“Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices: The Campaign for Equal Rights in Washington,” by Shanna Stevenson, published by Washington State Historical Society. 120 pages, paperback, $24.95.