Past Event

Night of Ideas : Happening, a Collective Reading

March 3, 2023
8:30 PM - 11:30 PM
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At Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 972 5th Ave, New York, NY 10075

For the 2023 Night of Ideas, Columbia University’s Maison Française and Department of French are teaming up with Villa Albertine to host a collective public reading of Happening by Annie Ernaux, French author and winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature. Happening recounts the abortion Ernaux had at age 23, in 1963, at a time when the procedure was still illegal in France. Her story, told with unsparing honesty, resonates strongly in post-Roe America, where the right to a safe and legal abortion has been curtailed in many states. Happening will be read in English in its entirety, with brief passages performed by more than 25 diverse voices—writers, artists, doctors, teachers, students, activists—in a collective expression of appreciation for Annie Ernaux’s bold work and solidarity for reproductive rights.

“I have finished putting into words what I consider to be an extreme human experience, bearing on life and death, time, law, ethics, and taboo–an experience that sweeps through the body…  Among all the social and psychological reasons that may account for my past, of one I am certain: these things happened to me so that I might recount them.” Annie Ernaux


Mona Eltahawy, Feminist Author
Niharika Rao, Student, Barnard College, and Co-Founder of Reproductive Justice Collective NY
Margo Jefferson, Author and Professor, School of the Arts, Columbia
Susan Rubin, Family Physician at the Institute for Family Health and Abortion care provider at Planned Parenthood
Thomas Dodman, Assistant Professor of French, Columbia University
Chiara Gabily Dodman, Student, Bard High School Queens
Ken Chen, Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Creative Writing, Barnard College
Rosalie Fisher, French Teacher, Saint Ann's School
Colm Toíbín, Writer and Professor of the Humanities, Columbia  
Taylor Rae Almonte, Student, Columbia 
Domna Stanton, Professor of French and Women's and Gender Studies, CUNY Graduate Center
Brooke Habit, Student, Columbia 
Maria Stuebner, Student, Columbia 
Dee Beasnael, Stage and Voice Artist
Dan Simon, Publisher, Seven Stories Press
Nellie Hermann, Writer
Ruth Weiner, Publicity Director, Seven Stories Press
Camila Valle, Editor, Translator, Writer, and member of NYC for Abortion Rights
Marianne Hirsch, Professor Emerita, Comparative Literature and Gender Studies, Columbia
Vinus Mahmoodi, Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology, Columbia Medical Center
Sanaë Lemoine, Writer
Chayma Drira, Journalist and Doctoral Student, NYU, and Villa Albertine Resident in 2022
Taylor Steinbruegge, Communication Officer, Villa Albertine
Alex Pekov, Early Career Fellow, Lecturer in Slavic Languages and Comparative Literature, Columbia
Camille Abdesselam, Student, Columbia 
Ilana Custos-Quatreville, Program Assistant, Columbia Maison Française
Laura Kolbe, Physician, Writer and Poet
Shanny Peer, Director, Columbia Maison Française
Madeleine Dobie, Professor of French, Columbia
Milène Klein, Student, Columbia