Maria Dahvana Headley

Female Empowerment and Questioning Patriarchal Stereotypes: Author Maria Dahvana Headley on June 3

The Mount Madonna School (MMS) public speaker series based on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continues with “Rethinking Traditional Gender in Classic Literature,” featuring New York Times-bestselling author Maria Dahvana Headley on Thursday, June 3 at 7:00pm PST.

Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation is a feminist reworking of one of the oldest surviving texts. Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment, powerful men seeking to become more powerful, and one woman seeking justice for her child, but this version brings new context to an old story.

Her novel, The Mere Wife, follows the basic narrative arc of the original Beowulf but at the same time revises the epic into a women-centered story set in modern suburbia.

Rethinking and rewriting perspectives that have come to be accepted as truth, her novels empower the female and question the patriarchal stereotypes. Join Headley and the MMS high school students as they explore the boundaries of gender and tradition in a conversation that most directly relates to SDG Goal 5: Gender Equality.

The SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” The SDGs were set in 2015 by the UN General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

This presentation is in partnership with Bookshop Santa Cruz and you may purchase copies of Headley’s books here.

All of the events in the Mount Madonna School’s Sustainable Development Goals speaker series are offered via Zoom. Tickets are available by donation, and can be ordered via the speaker series website,

“MMS is committed to providing an equitable and inclusive education and raising awareness about the impact of prejudice and injustice on society,” commented Mount Madonna Head of School Ann Goewert. “Educating our students to become caring and discerning global citizens is a core value of our school. The Sustainable Development Goals Speaker Series introduces our students and community to alumni and friends who are engaged in advocating for change and solutions to pressing global issues.”

While MMS students will prepare some questions in advance for the author, registered attendees are also welcome to join in the conversation about Headley’s work during a Q&A session. The event will be moderated by author, editor, and historian Tiffany Wayne, Ph.D., former high school social studies and English teacher at MMS, as well as an alumni parent.

Tiffany Wayne is a scholar of women, gender, and the history of feminism, and has published numerous works in women’s history and literary studies. Her books include Women’s Suffrage: The Complete Guide to the 19th Amendment (2020), Women’s Rights in the United States (2014), and Feminist Writings from Ancient Times to the Modern World (2011). She is currently at work on a historical novel about a 19th-century female photographer.

“I’m excited for Mount Madonna School to host this conversation about the SDG goal of Gender Equality through the lens of the humanities,” commented Wayne. “Through Headley’s reframing and retellings of classic texts, she invites us to think about why stories of the past matter and how the questions, analysis, and values learned in the humanities can help us reimagine a future based on equality and inclusivity.”



Contact: leigh Ann Clifton, Director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.