Author Talk with Tiya Miles

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Program Description:

National Director of PBS Books, Heather-Marie Montilla sits down with award-winning writer and scholar Tiya Miles to discuss her latest book “Wild Girls: How the outdoor shaped the women who challenged a nation.” This exciting new book introduces us to lesser-known trailblazing women whose strength and tenacity allowed them to break social norms and amplify the voices of American Heroes for the next generation. This book aligns with PBS’s new environmental programming initiative, launched earlier this year that explores impacts on the country and the planet.

This effort marks a bold commitment to bring together the very best in science, history and news programming. PBS has created more than 200 hours of climate and environmental content available now across various PBS platforms, PBS and its member stations will focus on the challenges of a changing climate while highlighting examples of positive impact. This broad slate of programs explores climate change from a diversity of perspectives and include new productions such as HUMAN FOOTPRINT; Season Two of AMERICA OUTDOORS WITH BARATUNDE THURSTON, NOVA and NATURE; a digital-first series from PBS Digital Studios which includes WEATHERED, and more.

Wild Girls Book Cover - Watercolor art of mountains with sunset in the background

About the Book:

An award-winning historian shows how girls who found self-understanding in the natural world became women who changed America.

Harriet Tubman, forced to labor outdoors on a Maryland plantation, learned from the land a terrain for escape. Louisa May Alcott ran wild, eluding gendered expectations in New England. The Indigenous women’s basketball team from Fort Shaw, Montana, recaptured a sense of pride in physical prowess as they trounced the white teams of the 1904 World’s Fair. Celebrating women like these who acted on their confidence outdoors, Wild Girls brings new context to misunderstood icons like Sacagawea and Pocahontas, and to underappreciated figures like Native American activist writer Gertrude Bonnin, farmworkers’ champion Dolores Huerta, and labor and Civil Rights organizer Grace Lee Boggs.

This beautiful, meditative work of history puts girls of all races—and the landscapes they loved—at center stage and reveals the impact of the outdoors on women’s independence, resourcefulness, and vision. For these trailblazing women of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, navigating the woods, following the stars, playing sports, and taking to the streets in peaceful protest were not only joyful pursuits, but also techniques to resist assimilation, racism, and sexism. Lyrically written and full of archival discoveries, Wild Girls evokes landscapes as richly as the girls who roamed in them—and argues for equal access to outdoor spaces for young women of every race and class today.

About the Author:

TIYA MILES is the Michael Garvey Professor of History at Harvard University, the author of five prize-winning works on the history of slavery and early American race relations, and a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship recipient. She was the founder and director of the Michigan-based ECO Girls program, and she is the author of the National Book Award–winning, New York Times best-selling All That She Carried. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Bozeman, Montana.

Tiya Miles - Headshot
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