Benderly, Beryl Lieff 1943-
BENDERLY, Beryl Lieff 1943-
PERSONAL: Born December 25, 1943, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Morris (a chemist) and Pearl (a sociologist; maiden name, Jacobs) Lieff; married Jordan Benderly (a government official), May 22, 1964; children: Daniel Ethan, Alicia Nadine. Education: Attended Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia, 1964; University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1964, M.A., 1966; graduate study at Washington University, 1966.
ADDRESSES: Home—Washington, DC. Agent—Virginia Barber Literary Agency, Inc., 353 West 21st St., New York, NY 10011.
CAREER: Fisk University, Nashville, TN, instructor, 1966-67; University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, instructor in sociology and anthropology, 1967-69; American University, Washington, DC, research scientist and social-cultural specialist, 1969-76; freelance writer, 1976—. Member of judging committee, MacDougal Creative Writing Prize, 1979-82.
MEMBER: National Book Critics Circle, American Society of Journalists and Authors (member of national board, 1985-87; chair of Washington, DC, chapter, 1987—), National Association of Science Writers, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Washington Independent Writers (member of board of directors, 1978-79, 1980-81; vice-president, 1979-80), Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellowship, 1964; university fellowships from Washington University and University of Pennsylvania, both 1965; national finalist in White House Fellows competition, 1974; National Media Award, American Psychological Foundation, 1981, for article "The Great Ape Debate"; honorable mention in national features category, Odyssey Institute, 1981, for article "Dialogue of the Deaf"; Exceptional Achievement Award, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, 1984; Gallaudet Journalism Prize, 1984; American Society of Journalists and Authors Book Award, 1989.
(With Richard F. Nyrop and others) The Area Handbook, 18 volumes, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1971-77.
(With Mary F. Gallagher and John Young) Discovering Culture: An Introduction to Anthropology (textbook), Van Nostrand (New York, NY), 1977.
Dancing without Music: Deafness in America, Anchor/Doubleday (New York, NY), 1980.
Thinking about Abortion, Dial/Doubleday (New York, NY), 1984.
High Schools and the Changing Workplace, National Academy of Science (Washington, DC), 1984.
The Myth of Two Minds: What Gender Means and Doesn't Mean, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1987.
(With Renee Royak-Schaler) Challenging the Breast Cancer Legacy: A Program of Emotional Support and Medical Care for Women at Risk, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
In Her Own Right: The Institute of Medicine's Guide to Women's Health Issues, National Academy Press (Washington, DC), 1997.
(With Stanley I. Greenspan) The Growth of the Mind: And the Endangered Origins of Intelligence, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1997.
Jason's Miracle: A Hanukkah Story (juvenile fiction), Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2000.
(With Hasia Diner) Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from Colonial Times to the Present, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Also author of accompanying print material for Public Broadcasting Service series "The Hurt That Does Not Show," first broadcast by KOCE-TV, 1983, and of numerous news reports. Contributor of articles to magazines, including Change, Ms., Health, Moment, Redbook, Self, Science, Smithsonian, Working Mother, and Woman's Day. Contributor of book reviews to Present Tense, The World and I, Washington Post Book World and Smithsonian. Contributing editor, Psychology Today.
SIDELIGHTS: Beryl Lieff Benderly once told CA: "My writing centers on the social, or human, effects of the ideas we hold—on how what we think governs the way we act. I explore this theme mainly at the intersection of society and technology, where what is possible runs up against the way we would like the world to be." She later added that "this theme comes out particularly strongly in [The Myth of Two Minds: What Gender Means and Doesn't Mean], a critique of current thinking on gender differences." In a Washington Post Book World review, critic Susan Dooley called Benderly's work "a fascinating exploration of what science actually knows about the differences between men and women."
Similar praise was given to the author's earlier book about the deaf, Dancing without Music: Deafness in America, about which Washington Post Book World contributor Evelyn Wilde Mayerson noted: "[Benderly offers] both lay readers and interested professionals in the health sciences a comprehensive layout, as rich as an illustrated story board, of the deaf experience." Benderly described her book to CA as "the first general trade book on this subject to appear in almost forty years. It describes the social, educational, and psychological situation of the deaf community and outlines the historic development that produced the world that today's deaf people inhabit. Communication mode largely determines a deaf child's social future. I examine the various communications options available to deaf people in terms of their social and human outcomes."
More recently, Benderly addresses the delicate subject of abortion in Thinking about Abortion. Fitzhugh Mullan commented in Washington Post Book World that "Benderly deals straightforwardly with the subject" of abortion in her book. "Her text is thoughtful, informative and, ultimately, pro-choice," Mullan concludes. "She dutifully reviews the theological and polemical arguments against abortion as well as those made in its favor." Another controversial subject, the relationships between intelligence and environment, is tackled in The Growth of the Mind: And the Endangered Origins of Intelligence, cowritten with Stanley I. Greenspan. In this book, the authors argue that a warm and nurturing environment is crucial for the full development of intelligence, and suggest radical reforms of workplace, schools, and child-care organizations to create better environments for children. A Publishers Weekly contributor welcomed the book as a wide-ranging and well-researched work that added significant light to a crucial social issue.
Jewish themes inform two of Benderly's most recent books. Jason's Miracle: A Hanukkah Story is a children's novel in which twelve-year-old Jason travels back in time to the era of the Maccabees, learning first-hand about the heroic events that came to be celebrated at Hanukkah. In Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from Colonial Times to the Present, Benderly and coauthor Hasia Diner present the first comprehensive social history of Jewish women in America. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the book "well-researched and consistently absorbing," and noted that, though it fails to consider the role of Jewish women in the gay and lesbian movement, the book is nevertheless a "fundamental contribution" and "certain to inform and engage."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 1997, William Beatty, review of The Growth of the Mind: And the Endangered Origins of Intelligence, p. 908.
Choice, July-August, 1997, P. Barker, review of The Growth of the Mind, p. 1876.
Library Journal, April 1, 1992, Janet M. Coggan, review of Challenging the Breast Cancer Legacy: A Program of Emotional Support and Medical Care for Women at Risk, p. 142; May 1, 1997, Barbara M. Bibel, review of In Her Own Right: The Institute of Medicine's Guide to Women's Health Issues, p. 133.
Psychology of Women Quarterly, June, 1994, Diane L. Gressley, review of Challenging the Breast Cancer Legacy, p. 316.
Publishers Weekly, January 27, 1997, review of The Growth of the Mind, p. 91; September 25, 2000, review of Jason's Miracle: A Hanukkah Story, p. 66; February 11, 2002, review of Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from Colonial Times to the Present, p. 173.
School Library Journal, October, 2000, review of Jason's Miracle, p. 64.
Smithsonian, November, 1980.
Teaching English to the Deaf, fall, 1981.
Washington Post Book World, October 5, 1980, August 25, 1984; November 13, 1987.*