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(Hybrid) Heroines and Historical Fiction with Katherine J. Chen

Tue April 9 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30


Katherine J. Chen, winner of the 2023 American Library in Paris Book Award, returns to the Library to discuss her fictionalized account of the life of Joan of Arc.

In her new book Joan, Katherine J. Chen reimagines the life of the legendary Joan of Arc, infusing the historical narrative with a fresh, contemporary voice. Chen delves into the complexities of Joan’s character, presenting her not just as a martyr and saint, but as a flesh-and-blood young woman with fears, ambitions, and a formidable sense of purpose. Combining meticulous research with imaginative storytelling, Joan offers a nuanced exploration of faith, power, and gender dynamics in medieval France.

Chen will appear in conversation with Patricia Dailey, a medieval scholar who focuses on histories of gender and sexuality. Dailey is currently a Faculty Visitor at the Institute for Ideas and Imagination.

About the speaker:

Katherine J. Chen is the author of Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc (Random House US / Hodder & Stoughton UK), which won the 2023 American Library in Paris Book Award, and Mary B. Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe New York Times Book ReviewLos Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, and other publications. Her next book, under contract with Random House, will explore the complex sibling relationship between Morgan le Fay and Arthur. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Boston University’s MFA Fiction program, and she is currently a doctoral student in the Department of English at Brown University.

Patricia Dailey is an Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her work spans medieval literature, contemporary philosophy, gender studies, psychedelic studies, and eco-criticism.  She is the author of Promised Bodies: Time, Language, and Corporeality in Medieval Women’s Mystical Texts (Columbia UP 2013), and has authored numerous articles. She is finishing a book on the arboreal sublime; while also writing an experimental autobiography of parentheses, or, what could be called life, in parentheses.

Learn more:

Read an excerpt from Chen’s 2023 American Library in Paris Book Award winning novel Joan.

Chen’s first novel, Mary B, brings a vivid voice to the most-overlooked Bennet sister from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In 2018, Chen wrote a piece for Literary Hub about her love for “plain” literary heroines like Mary Bennet. Read the piece here.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (the speakers will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

Read along with the Library! If you want to prepare ahead of this event, copies of Joan will be on sale one week in advance, as well as after the event. Stop by Member Services to purchase your copy. Books are generously provided by Smith&Son.

Attendees will have the opportunity to have their copy signed following the conversation.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Tue April 9
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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(Hybrid) Heroines and Historical Fiction with Katherine J. Chen
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