The Cult and Cost of Confession: Sophie Strand and Holly Whitaker

Recasting yourself as the author of a traumatic event can be profoundly healing. We take back narrative agency when we write our version of events. Memoir and storytelling are powerful tools in confronting pain, abuse, illness, and addiction. But in a digital attention economy, what does it mean to write about trauma? What if your wound gets the most clicks and goes viral? In this conversation, Holly Whitaker and Sophie Strand will discuss the differences between privacy and secrecy in a moment when social media’s algorithms encourage us to mine our worst experiences and turn them into profit.

Sophie Strand is a writer based in the Hudson Valley who focuses on the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and ecology. She is the author of The Flowering Wand and The Madonna Secret. Her eco-memoir about chronic illness, The Body is a Doorway: A Journey Beyond Healing, Hope, and the Human, is forthcoming from Running Press in 2025. Subscribe to her newsletter at, and follow her work on Instagram @cosmogyny.

Holly Whitakeris the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with AlcoholHer work has been featured in Vogue, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and many others. She’s the writer of a popular column, Recovering, and working on her second book. Whitaker’s work focuses on understanding the intersections of systems, culture, and individual experience and identity through the lens of addiction and recovery.

Get a Full Festival pass and you’ll get to take in the Story Slam on Thursday night. Then sail into the weekend: attending all the wonderful panels, both Little Bites and Big Libations Cocktail Parties, and both evening events. And share the bounty from our always-stuffed goody bag.

Bearsville Theater
291 Tinker Street
Saturday March 23, 2024
Doors 7PM Show 7:30PM