Unknown Genius: Nancy Cunard, the Jazz Age Flapper, Muse, & Poet


Join us at the brand new art gallery Chinatown Soup for an evening with author and professor Charles Riley as we learn about one of the lesser known heroes of Paris' Jazz Age.

During the Jazz Age the flapper roll call from Josephine Baker to Zelda Fitzgerald reached its aristocratic high point with Nancy Cunard. Heiress to the shipping fortune, champion (and lover) of African-Americans, hard-drinking sybarite relentlessly on the move to be wherever the party was, the fashion-forward Cunard was a meal ticket for gossip columnists. With her arms encased in African bracelets, long skinny legs flashing from under abbreviated Chanel hemlines, and kohl-rimmed eyes, Nancy Cunard dared Man Ray, Cecil Beaton and other photographers to tame the predatory pheromones she exuded even as a teenage member of London’s Corrupt Coterie.


Biographers batten on her dalliances with black jazz musicians and high-profile literary figures (no less than three Nobel prizewinners), a roster of lovers that included T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Samuel Beckett. But the wild tales mask a prodigious talent on display in Parallax, her book-length poem published by Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press in 1929. This ambitious work is a revelation, taking its place alongside Eliot’s Waste Land and Hart Crane’s The Bridge. The deeply personal, Modernist narrative includes London nocturnes and a brilliant episode on Cezanne’s Provence that we will explore in critical depth, with images of the paintings. The alarming thrill of “dancing on dynamite” was Nancy Cunard’s drug: “And Paris/Rolls up the monstrous carpet of its nights.”




Location: Chinatown Soup

16B Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Chinatown Soup is a creative community advancing art, justice, historic preservation, and civic engagement in downtown New York.




Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors


Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month



Other upcoming Olios


Jan 24

Living Room Salon | Tough Poetry in Dark Times

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Jan 31

The Dangerous Pleasure of Art

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

Sign Up - $20

Feb 1

Feb 2

OlioHouse | Our Stories, Our Bodies: Rape Culture in American History

Taught by Jamie Warren
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Feb 6

Olio Seminar | Space, Time, & Work: Understanding Labor

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $75

Feb 9

OlioHouse | The Love Symposium

Taught by Skye Cleary
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Feb 15

A Good Friend is Hard to Find: Philosophy and Friendship

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 21

Living Room Salon | Music and Environmentalism

Taught by Kristy Barbacane
7 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Feb 22

The Circular Road: Art and the Religious Imagination

Taught by Michael Prettyman
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 25

What Would Buffy Do? Radical Feminism and the Slayer

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Neuehouse Madison Sq.

Sign Up - $20

Feb 28

Into the Mystic: Music & the Moving Image

Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

Sign Up - $20

May 17

Rethinking Refugee Trauma and Mental Health

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 29

Composing Beauty: Mapplethorpe’s Quest for Perfection

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $20


Find out when we launch new classes!