Linda Hirshman Speaks on ‘Feminine Mystique’ at The Mount

Linda Hirshman

(LENOX, Mass.) – Lawyer, best-selling author, and cultural historian Linda Hirshman will speak on “The Feminine Mystique” at The Mount on Sunday, May 13, at 3pm, as part of the Close Encounters With MusicConversations With…” series. Hirshman will analyze the 14th and 19th amendments to the U.S. Constitution in tandem as two paths to equality in the suffrage effort and as they affected private and public lives of women.

Linda Hirshman has chronicled battles that have changed the social landscape of America in her books “Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World,” “Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex,” and others. “Sisters in Law,” her dual biography of Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, reveals how these trailblazers shaped the legal framework of modern feminism, also situating their respective ascents to the court within the broader women’s rights movement. Hirshman compares Ginsburg to no less than Mozart and Jane Austen, with her observation that “Mozart had, by many accounts, five operatic masterpieces. Jane Austen’s reputation rests on five novels.  . . . In five landmark cases over less than a decade, [Ginsburg] largely transformed the constitutional status of women in America.”

Hirshman has written for a variety of periodicals, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, and the Daily Beast, and participated in cases in the United States Supreme Court representing organized labor. She has also spent time in academia, teaching law, philosophy, and women’s studies at Brandeis University.

With this event and others, Close Encounters With Music is marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York state with special programming highlighting women composers and other women of achievement. The June 10 gala (at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington), “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman,” features remarkable composers who stormed the barricades and helped revolutionize the place of women in the arts — playing four-hand piano with Mozart, conducting their works from an English prison, and overcoming the taboo to write but not be heard, especially in public. These include Clara Schumann, Fannie Mendelssohn, Maria Theresia von Paradis, Ethel Smyth, Lili Boulanger, Amy Beach, Marianna Martinez and Augusta Holmes, as well as contemporary composers Thea Musgrave, Tamar Muskal, Joan Tower, Judith Zaimont, and Patricia Leonard.

“Linda Hirshman and the Feminine Mystique” is part of a series of intimate and stimulating conversations about music and ideas, an intrinsic part of the Close Encounters With Music season. “Conversations With…” has presented such notable cultural personages as writer, editor and Bob Dylan biographer Seth Rogovoy; baritone and actor Benjamin Luxon; Emmy Award-winning animator, illustrator, cartoonist and children’s book author R.O. Blechman; art restorer David Bull; Academy Award nominee filmmaker Daniel Anker and Directors Guild of America Award winner Peter Rosen; former Yankee, author and sportscaster Jim Bouton; Metropolitan Opera costume designer Charles Caine, and  Metropolitan Museum curator of historic instruments Ken Moore.

Tickets for this event are $15 and are available on the Close Encounters website, at 800-843-0778, or at the door. Light refreshments, following the presentation, are included.



Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, Jorge Martin, Thea Musgrave, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield, among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce, Lydia Artymiw, Roman Rabinovich, and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Peter Zazofsky, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Itamar Zorman, and Erin Keefe; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Kelley O’Connor, Jennifer Aylmer, and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Escher, Manhattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; flutists Carol Wincenc, and Tara O’Connor, and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented in cities across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as in Scottsdale, AZ. Summer performances have taken place at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA; and the Catskill High Peaks Festival continues the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence in the Great Northern Catskills at the Carey Institute for Global Good in an immersive course of study and performance.



The Mount, a National Historic Landmark, is a cultural center that celebrates the intellectual, artistic, and humanitarian legacy of Edith Wharton. The estate, designed and built by Edith Wharton in 1902, embodies the principles outlined in her influential book, The Decoration of Houses (1897). In addition to the mansion, the property includes three acres of formal gardens, including a French flower garden and an Italian white garden. Extensive woodscapes surround the formal gardens. Each year, The Mount hosts over 30,000 visitors. Daily tours of the property are offered May-October with special events throughout the year. Annual summer programming includes Wharton on Wednesdays, Music After Hours, and the popular Monday Lecture Series.  Exhibitions explore themes from Wharton’s life and work.

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