Chasing Bright Medusas Cover

Benjamin Taylor Book Launch and Reading

Chasing Bright Medusas: A Life of Willa Cather
Special Events

Willa Cather Foundation
413 N Webster St
Red Cloud, NE 68970-2466
United States

As part of National Willa Cather Center's efforts to commemorate acclaimed novelist Willa Cather’s 150th year, we are pleased to celebrate lauded writer and biographer Benjamin Taylor's much-anticipated biography Chasing Bright Medusas: A Life of Willa Cather! This virtual event begins at 7:00 CST. Visitors to Red Cloud are invited to attend a live viewing at the National Willa Cather Center.

Hear an excerpt from Taylor's new book, followed by what is sure to be an engaging talk back session moderated by Willa Cather Foundation Board of Governors president and professor Bob Thacker. In the years following the publication of her letters, Cather experts have published a rich trove of research, biography, and criticism, and we are honored to welcome professors Melissa Homestead, Julie Olin-Ammentorp, and Kelsey Squire to discuss their recently published books and particular areas of Cather expertise. We hope to encourage readers to expand their libraries and take advantage of the full range of new scholarship and biographical resources that have recently emerged.

Join us in honoring Cather’s prolific writing career and contributions to American letters on what would be her 150th birthday! A registration and Chasing Bright Medusas book bundle option is also available for this event, and the cost includes shipping. 

Interested in additional books about Willa Cather? Check out these titles, all available at our bookstore:







Benjamin Taylor Headshot

About Benjamin Taylor

Benjamin Taylor received a 2021 Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His memoir Here We Are was published by Penguin Books in May 2020. His previous memoir, The Hue and Cry at Our House, received the 2018 Los Angeles Times/Christopher Isherwood Prize and was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice; his Proust: The Search was named a Best Book of 2016 by Thomas Mallon in The New York Times Book Review and Robert McCrum in The Observer (London); and his Naples Declared: A Walk Around the Bay was named a Best Book of 2012 by Judith Thurman in The New Yorker. He is also the author of two novels, Tales Out of School, winner of the 1996 Harold Ribalow Prize, and The Book of Getting Even, winner of a Barnes & Noble Discover Award. He edited Saul Bellow: Letters, named a Best Book of 2010 by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times and Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post, and Bellow’s There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction, also a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His edition of the collected stories of Susan Sontag, Debriefing, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2017. French and Italian translations of Here We Are were published in 2021. He is a past fellow and current trustee of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and serves as president of the Edward F. Albee Foundation. Chasing Bright Medusas, his biography of Willa Cather, is due from Viking Press in 2023.

Dr. Melissa J. Homestead

About Melissa J. Homestead

Dr. Melissa Homestead joined the faculty at UNL in 2005 as an associate professor of English and was promoted to full professor in 2013. Her research focuses on the history of American women’s literary authorship from the Early Republic through the early 20th century. Her book American Women Authors and Literary Property, 1822-1869 examines how popular white women novelists negotiated copyright law and laws restricting the ability of married women to own property. She maintains an ongoing research interest in 19th-century American women authors, including E.D.E.N. Southworth, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, and Sarah Orne Jewett, but also works on twentieth-century novelist Willa Cather and directs the Cather Project in the Department of English. Her 2021 book The Only Wonderful Things: The Creative Partnership of Willa Cather and Edith Lewis was published by Oxford University Press. Homestead is a member of the Willa Cather Foundation Board of Governors.


Dr. Julie Olin-Ammentorp

About Julie Olin-Ammentorp

Julie Olin-Ammentorp received her A.B. in English from Middlebury College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Michigan, along with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. She is the author of Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and the Place of Culture and Edith Wharton’s Writings from the Great War. She has also authored chapters in The New Edith Wharton StudiesEdith Wharton in Context, and Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country: A Reassessment, as well as more than twenty articles on Wharton, Cather, and Henry James. She recently edited a new edition of Wharton's World War I novel, A Son at the Front, that was published in June, and she has contributed an essay to the forthcoming issue of the Willa Cather Review devoted to the 100th publication anniversary of Cather's 1923 novel A Lost Lady. She is a past member of the Board of Governors of the Willa Cather Foundation and a past president of the Edith Wharton Society.

Dr. Kelsey Squire

About Kelsey Squire

Kelsey Squire is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Core Program at Ohio Dominican University. She recently published Willa Cather: The Critical Conversation (2020, Camden House). Her work on Cather has appeared in Great Plains Quarterly, Cather Studies, and The Willa Cather Review. She is currently working on a project on escapism and the reception of twentieth-century U.S. women writers. She also serves as the President of the Reception Study Society.