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Influential Women: Joan Didion

Happy Women’s History Month, collegiettes! March was officially declared Women’s History Month by Congress in 1987. HC Dickinson is excited to highlight influential women throughout this month, and the first woman we want to celebrate is Joan Didion. 

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Joan Didion (1934 – ) is an American author and literary journalist. Her professional career began when she won an essay contest sponsored by Vogue magazine in her senior year at the University of California, Berkeley. Didion was promptly offered a research assistant position at Vogue. She was soon promoted to promotional copywriter and then to associate copy editor. Her first published piece in Vogue was an essay on self-respect in 1961.  

Didion made strides in literary journalism with her style of writing. She is known for her writing style called “new journalism,” which aims to communicate facts that read like a novel or creative story. Didion’s voice and writing style were groundbreaking at the time, as she frequently explored topics such as cultural chaos, shifts in morals and personal experiences in her life. Didion became an inspiration for many other writers and women. She overcame obstacles such as mental illness, her divorce, and harsh reviews from critics.  

To date, Joan Didion has over 18 published works – not including her pieces in Vogue — and seven published screenplays. Didion holds awards from the National Book Foundation, Writers Guild of America and Saint Louis University. She holds honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from both Harvard University and Yale University. Additionally, President Barack Obama awarded Didion with the National Medals of Arts and Humanities in 2013.  

Our favorite quote from Joan Didion is from one of her most famous works, Slouching Towards Bethlehem: “My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.” 

Joan Didion. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/american-literatu…

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Goeun Choi

Dickinson

Goeun is a senior psychology major and Senior Editor at Dickinson College. She works at the career center on campus and is involved in her chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta and in Psi Chi. French bulldogs, Mexican food (or any food), and bad reality TV are her weaknesses. Find her on Instagram at @goeun. 
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