Discourse & Process is a new online companion series to our 2020 Summer Lectures (which is postponed until further notice). Moderated by Julie Scelfo, past Lecture Series presenter and author of The Women Who Made New York, this series will give the authors an opportunity to discuss elements of the writing and research process.
This online program will be streamed live via Zoom.
The little-known story of screenwriter Salka Viertel, whose salons in 1930s and 40s Hollywood created a refuge for a multitude of famous figures who had escaped the horrors of World War ll. Salka Viertel was the screenwriter for five of Greta Garbo’s movies and also her most intimate friend. At one point during the Irving Thalberg years, Viertel was the highest-paid writer on the MGM lot. Meanwhile, at her house in Santa Monica she opened her door on Sunday afternoons to scores of European émigrés who had fled from Hitler—such as Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, and Arnold Schoenberg—along with every kind of Hollywood star, from Charlie Chaplin to Shelley Winters. In Viertel’s living room (the only one in town with comfortable armchairs, said one Hollywood insider), countless cinematic, theatrical, and musical partnerships were born.
Viertel combined a modern-before-her-time sensibility with the Old-World advantages of a classical European education and fluency in eight languages. She combined great worldliness with great warmth. She was a true bohemian with a complicated erotic life, and at the same time a universal mother figure. A vital presence in the golden age of Hollywood, Salka Viertel is long overdue for her own moment in the spotlight
“An immersive biography…Chock-full of scandalous affairs and wartime atmosphere, this sparkling account brings overdue attention to a woman who helped make Hollywood’s golden age possible.” —Publishers Weekly
Donna Rifkind‘s reviews appear frequently in The Washington Post Book World and the Los Angeles Times. She has also been a contributor to The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Times Literary Supplement, The American Scholar, and other publications. In 2006, she was a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle.
Julie Scelfo is a journalist, author and justice advocate who helps people discover the forces that help shape human thinking. Previously, Scelfo was a staff writer for The New York Times, and a Correspondent at Newsweek where she covered breaking news. Scelfo is the author of The Women Who Made New York, a collection of intersectional biographies that reveal how it was women — and not just men — who built one of the world’s greatest cities.
Scelfo earned a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University, and a Master’s degree in Media Ecology from New York University. She lives in New York City, is a frequent public speaker and has made numerous appearances on television, radio and podcasts.
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Discourse & Process Chats Schedule
June 8 – Eve Kahn, author of Forever Seeing New Beauties: The Forgotten Impressionist Mary Rogers Williams
June 15 – Katherine Smyth, author of All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf
June 22 – Donna Rifkind, author of The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood
June 29 – Jenn Shapland, author of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir
July 6 – Kerri Greenidge, author of Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter
July 13 – Kimberly Hamlin, author of Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener
July 20 – Michael Gorra author of The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War
July 27 – Nick Basbanes, author of Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Mount is a Massachusetts Cultural Council UP designated organization welcoming participants of all disabilities. Please contact The Mount at 413-551-5100 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, to discuss accommodations needed to participate fully in this event.