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The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson

Miriam Michelson and Lori Harrison-Kahanforeword by Joan Michelson and Lori Harrison-Kahan

Jewish Studies, Women's Studies, Language and Literature, Gender

Published: May 2019
ISBN: 9780814343579
Pages: 696 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 4 b&w illus.
Published: May 2019
ISBN: 9780814346082
Pages: 696 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 4 b&w illus.
Published: May 2019
ISBN: 9780814343586
Pages: 696 Size: EPUB
Illustrations: 4 b&w illus.

The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson is the first collection of newspaper articles and fiction written by Miriam Michelson (1870–1942), best-selling novelist, revolutionary journalist, and early feminist activist. Editor Lori Harrison-Kahan introduces readers to a writer who broke gender barriers in journalism, covering crime and politics for San Francisco's top dailies throughout the 1890s, an era that consigned most female reporters to writing about fashion and society events. In the book's foreword, Joan Michelson—Miriam Michelson's great-great niece, herself a reporter and advocate for women's equality and advancement—explains that in these trying political times, we need the reminder of how a "girl reporter" leveraged her fame and notoriety to keep the suffrage movement on the front page of the news.

In her introduction, Harrison-Kahan draws on a variety of archival sources to tell the remarkable story of a brazen, single woman who grew up as the daughter of Jewish immigrants in a Nevada mining town during the Gold Rush. The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson offers a cross-section of Michelson's eclectic career as a reporter by showcasing a variety of topics she covered, including the treatment of Native Americans, profiles of suffrage leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and police corruption. The book also traces Michelson's evolution from reporter to fiction writer, reprinting stories such as "In the Bishop's Carriage" (1904), a scandalous picaresque about a female pickpocket; excerpts from the Saturday Evening Post series, "A Yellow Journalist" (1905), based on Michelson's own experiences as a reporter in the era of Hearst and Pulitzer; and the title novella, The Superwoman, a trailblazing work of feminist utopian fiction that has been unavailable since its publication in The Smart Set in 1912. Readers will see how Michelson's newspaper work fueled her imagination as a fiction writer and how she adapted narrative techniques from fiction to create a body of journalism that informs, provokes, and entertains, even a century after it was written.

Lori Harrison-Kahan is associate professor of the practice of English at Boston College. She is also the author of The White Negress: Literature, Minstrelsy, and the Black-Jewish Imaginary. Joan Michelson is the great-great niece of Miriam Michelson and an award-winning, creative social impact leader, journalist, coach, and public speaker. She is also executive producer and host of the acclaimed podcast "Green Connections Radio" about remarkable women in STEM who are changing the world and what others can learn from them.

Miriam Michelson’s journalism about women, ethnic minorities, and the West and her prescient speculative fiction make for fascinating reading for anyone interested in American studies, print cultural studies, journalism, or gender studies. Harrison-Kahan has performed a monumental service to these fields by recovering—with such attentiveness and care—the works of this popular, now forgotten Progressive Era frontier feminist author.

– Mary Chapman, professor of English, University of British Columbia, and author of Becoming Sui Sin Far and Making Noise, Making News: Suffrage Print Culture and US Modernism

I’m grateful to Harrison-Kahan for bringing Miriam Michelson’s writings back to life. Michelson’s unusual perspective as a Jewish woman writer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century gives us new and timely insight into work, politics, and culture in that era.

– Judith Rosenbaum, executive director of the Jewish Women’s Archive

This is a strong reminder that women worked hard for the right to tell the stories of our nation in their own voice. I am humbled by the women who came before me as I read about their struggles and perseverance. Especially today, as so many women fight for recognition and respect, it is important to look back at the long road we have already traveled and gain strength.

– Soledad O’Brien, journalist

Thanks to Harrison-Kahan for bringing to light in this extraordinary book a body of work that honors the one-hundredth anniversary of women getting the vote, and introduces all of us today to a journalist whose writing helped make suffrage possible. A marquee byline in her time, this collection of Miriam Michelson’s work includes her newspaper coverage of a Women’s Congress in 1895 and her 1912 novella, Superwoman, which served as source material for ‘Wonder Woman.’ As an independent, single, professional woman, Michelson was ahead of her time in imagining what women can do.

– Eleanor Clift, Daily Beast columnist

Miriam Michelson’s voice comes roaring back from the Progressive Era, full of rollicking stories about Amazons, girl thieves, and feminist radicals. Whether she was covering news or writing fiction, Michelson modeled the kind of public engagement our own era desperately needs. Lori Harrison-Kahan has reintroduced a fierce, funny writer we should never have forgotten.

– Jean M. Lutes, author of Front-Page Girls: Women Journalists in American Literature and Culture, 1880–1930

One of the most striking and colorful leaders who fought so long and so hard to secure voting rights for women, Miriam Michelson jumps out of the pages of this new and valuable work by Harrison-Kahan. Thanks at long last to the indefatigable effort by Harrison-Kahan and Miriam’s great-great niece, Joan Michelson, the story of Miriam and the roles she played in advancing the suffragette movement—constantly keeping it in the headlines— surges back to life, showing what can be done through courage and commitment.

– David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and professor of public service at Harvard Kennedy School

Miriam’s story reminds us that women journalists bring different voices to the forefront – in the stories they cover and the way they cover them. . . . This Women's History Month, here’s a toast of gratitude to Aunt Miriam, other women journalists and the suffragists, who earned women the rights and privileges we take for granted today and for those who continue to fight for them. As Abigail Adams implored her husband John Adams during the Continental Congress forming the United States, we "remember the ladies."

– Joan Michelson, Forbes.com

A new collection, The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson (edited and introduced by scholar Lori Harrison-Kahan), exemplifies these forgotten superwomen of the suffrage movement.

– Ben Railton, The Saturday Evening Post

Despite her activism, reporting, and fiction, Michelson’s influence was always more than just her words. It was also her life: The unmarried and independent Michelson provided a role model for others of how a 'new woman' could make her way in a world of men by using her wits and her voice as 'the only woman reporter working in a world of men.'

– Maya Mirsky, J. The Jewish News of Northern California

This collection provides important insight into Michelson's work and to a crucial period in American history. It contributes substantially to the literature documenting social change, women's history, and media history.

– Vanessa Murphree, American Journalism

Harrison-Kahan introduces us not only to Michelson’s strikingly modern life and career but also to the social and political issues of the day, many of which remain timely.

– Lauren B. Strauss, Moment Magazine

Harrison-Kahan’s erudite and engaging edition offers an invaluable resource for scholars of early twentieth-century print culture and women writers. It was a delight to meet Miriam Michelson, and I look forward to her company in my classroom.

– Catherine Keyser, American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism

Harrison-Kahan's careful curation and use of archival sources to recover Michelson's life and work provides readers with new material for building a conversation about women writers' roles in activist movements.

– Candi S. Carter Olson, Legacy