Dec. 10 Panel Discussion on Ethics of Biography

The scandale militaire involving biographer Paula Broadwell and General David Petraeus has generated much handwringing over the ethics of biography in recent weeks. By all accounts, sleeping with your subject is unethical; keeping it a secret is worse. The Leon Levy Center for Biography (LLCB) at the Graduate Center, CUNY, will address these and related issues with a panel discussion led by award-winning writer and biographer Gary Giddins, LLCB’s executive director. The remarkable lineup includes two Pulitzer Prize–winning biographers, David Levering Lewis (W. E. B. Du Bois) and John Matteson (Louisa May Alcott); the MacArthur “genius grant” ethicist Carol Levine; and the American novelist Benjamin Anastas, whose new memoir, Too Good to Be True, has triggered a firestorm about telling too much.

The event will take place on Monday, December 10, at 5:30 p.m. in the Skylight Room (9100) at the Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue. Admission is free, but reservations are required. RSVP by email:

The Leon Levy Center for Biography

Established by a generous gift from the Leon Levy Foundation and envisioned as a hub for writers, scholars, students, and readers of biography, the center seeks to build connections between independent and university-affiliated biographers across the disciplines and to cultivate lively discussions about the art and craft of biography historically and in our time. The center sponsors such events as the Annual Biography Lecture (in the fall), the Annual Conference on Biography (spring), and a number of public presentations and programs throughout the year to provide a forum for the public to appreciate the breadth and variety of biographical narratives and the intellectual issues fueling them. The center also offers four resident fellowships annually to fund the research and writing of outstanding biographies and two fellowships to CUNY dissertation students writing biography.