Tara Isabella Burton & Maria Dahvana Headley have both recently authored their own unique retellings of classic texts, originally told from masculine perspectives. Burton's Social Creature reimagines Patricia Highsmith's iconic psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley from a woman's perspective for the digital age, while Headley's The Mere Wife gives a new, distinctly feminist life to the epic Beowulf, cited by some to be the oldest surviving long story in Old English.

Join Burton & Headley for a fascinating discussion on why and how they took on these projects, and the significance of retelling classic texts from women's perspectives. Moderated by Rachel Syme.


Tara Isabella Burton has followed a female hermit into the remote Caucasusgotten love amulets from Turkish Islamic shamans, andheld signs with the street preachers of Las Vegas. Her work on religion, culture, and place can be found at National Geographic,  The Wall Street JournalAl JazeeraThe Economist's 1843, AeonThe BBC, The AtlanticThe American Interest, Salon, The New Statesman, The Telegraph, and more. Her fiction can or shall be found in Granta, Volume 1 Brooklyn, The New Yorker's Daily Shouts, Great Jones Street,, PANK, Shimmer, and other places. She has received The Spectator's 2012 Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and a 2016 Lowell Thomas Award. Her first novel, Social Creature, praised by The New York Times' Janet Maslin as "a wicked original with echoes of the greats", was published by Doubleday (US) and Bloomsbury/Raven (UK) in June 2018. It will be translated into nine more languages, including Italian, French, and Russian. She is also working on a non-fiction book about new religious and "replacement religion" movements, Strange Rites: Cults and Subcultures After the Death of God, to be published by Public Affairs in 2019. Tara recently completed a doctorate in theology as a Clarendon Scholar at Trinity College, Oxford. She is currently a staff writer on the religion beat at Vox.

Maria Dahvana Headley is a #1 New York Times-bestselling author and editor. Her novels include MagoniaAerie, and Queen of Kings, and she has also written a memoir, The Year of Yes. With Kat Howard, she is the author of The End of the Sentence, and with Neil Gaiman, she is co-editor of Unnatural Creatures. Her short stories have been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, and her work has been supported by the MacDowell Colony and by Arte Studio Ginestrelle, where the first draft of The Mere Wife was written. She was raised with a wolf and a pack of sled dogs in the high desert of rural Idaho, and now lives in Brooklyn.

Rache Syme has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, The New Republic, and elsewhere.

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