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AWP 2024: Legal and Ethical Issues in Memoir

Thursday, February 8, 2024


10:35 am-11:50 am Central

Room 3501 GH, Kansas City Convention Center, Level 3, 301 West 13th St #100, Kansas City, Missouri

AWP 2024

Writing about real people comes with an obligation to consider the impact on those involved. Memoirists must write the authentic story that they need to tell, and yet doing so can be difficult when facing the risk of a lawsuit or a damaged relationship with a loved one. How can a writer maintain artistic integrity and truthfulness while minimizing the risk of hurting or angering the people who appear on the page? In this panel, authors and attorneys discuss the legal and ethical implications of memoirs to help you feel confident about writing your truth.


Maya Shanbhag Lang is the author of What We Carry (Penguin Random House) and The Sixteenth of June (Simon & Schuster). Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Times of India. She holds a PhD in comparative literature and lives in New York. 

Hannah Pittard is the author of five books, including the memoir We Are Too Many(Henry Holt) and the novels The Fates Will Find Their Way (Ecco) and Listen to Me(Houghton Mifflin). She is a professor of English at the University of Kentucky.

Nancy E. Wolff is a partner of the law firm of Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard. A frequent speaker on copyright, she is president of the Copyright Society of the USA, chair of the ABA IP Section Committee and ranked by Super Lawyers as one of the top fifty female lawyers in New York City.

Umair Kazi (moderator) is the director of policy and advocacy at the Authors Guild. He studied law at the University of Iowa, and creative writing at Columbia University.