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Crystal Eastman: A Revolutionary Life
Thursday, July 16, 2020 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pmFree
Dr. Amy Aronson discusses her new biography of early 1900s progressive reformer and Pittsburgh resident Crystal Eastman.
In 1910, Crystal Eastman was one of the most conspicuous progressive reformers in America. By the 1920s, her ardent suffragism, insistent anti-militarism, gregarious internationalism, and uncompromising feminism branded her “the most dangerous woman in America” and led to her exile in England. Yet a century later, her legacy in shaping several defining movements of the modern era–labor, feminism, free speech, peace–is unquestioned.
A founder of the ACLU and Woman’s Peace Party, Eastman was a key player in a constellation of high-stakes public battles from the very beginning of her career. She first found employment investigating labor conditions–an endeavor that would produce her iconic publication, Work Accidents and the Law, (1910), a catalyst for the first workers’ compensation law. Crystal conducted her research of Pittsburgh area work places in 1906-07. She would go on to fight for the rights of women, penning the Equal Rights Amendment with Alice Paul. As a pacifist in the First World War era, she helped to found the Civil Liberties Bureau, which evolved into the ACLU. With her brother, the writer Max Eastman, she frequented the radical, socialist circles of Greenwich Village. She was also a radical of the politics of private life, bringing attention to cutting-edge issues such as reproductive rights, wages for housework, and single motherhood by choice.
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As the first biography of Eastman, this book gives renewed voice to a woman who spoke freely and passionately in debates still raging today — gender equality and human rights, nationalism and globalization, political censorship and media control, worker benefits and family balance, and the monumental questions of war, sovereignty, and freedom.
“In Crystal Eastman: A Revolutionary Life, Amy Aronson has given us the great gift of a best friend we didn’t know. Feminist, journalist, lawyer, friend of workers and enemy of militarists, Crystal Eastman may have been born a century too soon, but she is re-born now just when we need her most.” – Gloria Steinem
Amy Aronson is Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Fordham University. Formerly an editor at Working Woman and Ms., she now serves as an editor for Media History. She is the author of Taking Liberties: Early American Women’s Magazines and Their Readers.
Dr. Aronson holds a BA from Princeton University and a PhD from Columbia University, and is the editor of the international quarterly, Media History. A former editor at Working Woman and Ms., her work has also appeared in such publications as Business Week, Global Journalist, Working Mother and the Boston Globe. Her latest book, Crystal Eastman: A Revolutionary Life (Oxford University Press), recovers the story of a twentieth-century feminist, labor lawyer, anti-war activist, and radical journalist, co-founder of the National Woman’s Party and the International League for Peace and Freedom, and the woman who engineered the founding of the ACLU.
She studies media history with a focus on American magazines and periodical literature. Within that frame, her primary research interest is gender, including both femininity and masculinity studies. A scholar-practitioner, Dr. Aronson has published both scholarly and journalistic work on issues of gender, diversity, journalism history and American culture.