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Harriman Expedition Retraced

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Kay Sloan

Historian and Novelist


Kay Sloan

Kay Sloan
Kay Sloan is a cultural historian, novelist and poet who teaches creative writing at Miami University. She grew up in Mississippi, and earned her B.A. in sociology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She is co-author, with William H. Goetzmann, of Looking Far North: The Harriman Expedition to Alaska, 1899.

Sloan says "as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Perhaps part of this sensibility came from growing up in Mississippi, where I saw things happening in the 1960s that I could not understand without stepping back from the culture to observe. I think my interest in history is partly due to my Southern origins: what were the roots of the upheavals I witnessed? Where did so much hatred and misunderstanding come from? I've always loved to re-create worlds -- whether in fiction or in writing history -- and to imagine myself part of these worlds."

For young people interested in history or writing, she recommends reading biography and fiction. "I fell in love with Mark Twain as a young person, for the history that shines through in his novels, as well as the strength and power of his writing. Later, I turned to the writing of Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Richard Wright; their works convinced me that the best fiction also takes on some of the questions raised by historians. I believe that both history and fiction are about story, essentially, about how and why we are who we are today."

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For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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