The New York Times: Historian Amanda Foreman upends the story of civilization to give women their due

BY LINDA KINSTLER

The Ascent of Woman

The Ascent of Woman

Enheduanna. Hatshepsut. Empress Wu. Murasaki Shikibu. These ancient women were the first feminist trailblazers, yet they’ve been largely expunged from the historical record.

Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon the Great of Sumer, became the world’s first recorded author in the third millennium BCE. Hatshepsut ruled the Kingdom of Egypt for 20 years, adopting the full regalia of a male king — beard included — before her successor had all signs of her reign erased. Empress Wu, also known as Wu Zetian, united the Chinese empire and reigned as sole monarch for fifteen years before her successors also tried to obliterate her achievements. Murasaki Shikibu wrote the world’s first novel, the Tale of Genji, between 1001-1010 AD. Her real name and personal details remain largely unknown.

These influential women are just a few of the female iconoclasts featured in The Ascent of Woman, Dr. Amanda Foreman’s four-part BBC documentary that premiered to U.S. viewers on Netflix earlier this month. The series aims to “retell the story of civilization with women and men side by side for the first time,” as Foreman declares in the introduction. Reinscribing women into their rightful places in the human story, the documentary corrects the erasures of history’s male heirs. Continue reading…

“Embrace your Femininity and Watch ‘The Ascent of Woman'”

'The Ascent of Woman'

‘The Ascent of Woman’

“In this series, I want to retell the story of civilization with men and women side by side for the first time.”

That’s one of the opening lines of Amanda Foreman’s BBC series, The Ascent of Woman. The series, which is now on Netflix, focuses on inserting women back into history. The four-part docu-series covers women’s role in everything from ancient civilization to modern day, making this the perfect crash course on feminism. So if you’ve even wondered about feminism and female oppression pre-Judith Butler but are too lazy to actually do any research, you now have a streaming option. Continue reading…

Vogue: Netflix’s Docuseries The Ascent of Woman Puts Women’s Rights in a Powerful New Context

Amanda Foreman with her children, (from left) Helena, Xanthe, Halcyon, Hero, and Theo, at their home in New York, 2011. Photographed by Tina Barney, Vogue, June 2011

Amanda Foreman with her children, (from left) Helena, Xanthe, Halcyon, Hero, and Theo, at their home in New York, 2011.
Photographed by Tina Barney, Vogue, June 2011

By Eve MacSweeney

Vogue contributor and professional historian Amanda Foreman has spent much of her 25-year career taking deep dives into very specific subjects. She wrote the celebrated biography Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire—which later became a movie starring Keira Knightley—and A World On Fire, an exploration of Britain’s role in the American Civil War.

So it’s something of a surprise that her latest topic is infinitely broader: 10 thousand years of global history, to be precise. Her series, The Ascent of Woman, produced by the BBC and launching on Netflix today, conveniently collects for us an overview of women’s societal roles throughout history that will refine many an argument in the classroom, the courtroom, and at the dinner table. Continue reading…

The New York Times: It’s Not a Reading, It’s Literary Cabaret

Lucas Wittmann and Amanda Foreman

Lucas Wittman and Amanda Foreman (Photo: Karsten Moran for NYT)

By Joshua Barone

When Amanda Foreman and Lucas Wittmann founded House of SpeakEasy, the organization behind their literary cabaret series, “Seriously Entertaining,” they wanted to break from the format of typical bookstore readings and hark back to the performative styles of authors like Dickens and Twain.

Now in its third season, “Seriously Entertaining” is closer to realizing its goal. For the next show, on Monday, it has moved to Joe’s Pub, a high-profile site that will raise House of SpeakEasy’s visibility. (In fact, Monday’s show sold out two weeks in advance.) Ms. Foreman said that when Joe’s Pub reached out about a partnership, “We spent a nanosecond thinking about it.” Continue reading…

BBC History Magazine: 5 female trailblazers in history

This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine.

1) Enheduanna: Priestess, poet, princess, and the first named writer (c2285–2250 BC)

The daughter of the Mesopotamian king Sargon the Great, the Akkadian who unified central and southern Mesopotamia, Enheduanna was appointed high priestess by her father in a bid to prove his right as the empire’s ruler.

Enheduanna was the unifier. The Sumerian civilisation of southern Mesopotamia had been conquered but the two peoples needed to be melded into one empire. It was her job, as high priestess, to use her religious power and influence to unite them.

But Enheduanna is not remarkable only for the power that she wielded, she was also an accomplished writer who is widely recognised as being the first known person to attach a signature to her written works.

Enheduanna makes an offering to the gods in this votive plaque from c2300–2275 BC. © Penn Museum Continue reading…

‘2016 English Ball Honorees’ – St George’s Society of New York

The English Ball

The English Ball

The 2016 English Ball will take place on Wednesday 27th April at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City. At this prestigious event, St. George’s Society will present awards to three distinguished people in the British community in New York: Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive of WPP; Danny Lopez, Her Majesty’s Consul General in New York; and Dr. Amanda Foreman, award-winning historian and 2016 Man Booker Prize Chair.

The English Ball is the most prestigious and important event in St. George’s Society of New York’s calendar with proceeds directly supporting its charitable programs. Starting back in 1770 as a banquet to celebrate St. George, the patron saint of England, it has been held with rare exceptions every year since and is now established as the premier English social event in New York. Continue reading…

‘2016 Judges announced’ – The Man Booker prize

The Man Booker Prize 2016 judges - (from left) Olivia Williams, David Harsent, Amanda Foreman, Abdulrazak Gurnah and Jon Day.

The Man Booker Prize 2016 judges – (from left) Olivia Williams, David Harsent, Amanda Foreman, Abdulrazak Gurnah and Jon Day.

 

The judges of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction are announced today.

The panel of five is chaired by Amanda Foreman, biographer, historian and presenter of the highly acclaimed recent BBC series, The Ascent of Woman. Foreman judged the prize in 2012, under the chairmanship of Sir Peter Stothard. Her four fellow judges are a critic, a novelist, a poet and an actor.

The 2016 panel is: Amanda Foreman (Chair), award-winning historian and internationally bestselling author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire; Jon Day, Critic and Lecturer in English at King’s College London, specialising in modernist fiction; Abdulrazak Gurnah, Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist and Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent; David Harsent, poet andProfessor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton, winner of 2014 T.S. Eliot prize; Olivia Williams, actor, currently starring in a National Theatre’s production of Harley Granville-Barker’s Waste. Continue reading…

BBC: Ten women who ruled the world

Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dr. Amanda Foreman explains the legacy of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, one of ten powerful women highlighted by the BBC for their political accomplishments:

‘. . . And the greatest of Egypt’s known ruling Queens was Hatshepsut. She came to power in the 15th century BC as the regent for her stepson Thutmose III; but it was how she ruled for over 2 decades that demonstrates her genius for government. Hatshepsut appropriated for herself the symbols of kingship… Famously, her statues depict her wearing the divine pharaonic beard. But just as important was how she concentrated on what Egypt did best. Building and trade. She organised the largest ever trade mission in her country’s history to the land of Punt. Her legacy was peace and prosperity. But even in Egypt there’s a sting in the tale. We don’t know why, but after her death, the next Pharaoh literally defaced Hatshepsut from the public record. In a sense, she represents the fate of so many women, not just in the ancient world, but throughout all of history.’

Read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zp9qmp3