As women’s schools slip off into a never-never land of maypoles, bulimia, white gloves, and second-rate feminism, one can’t help but remember that they made for some awfully lurid fiction. (Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons features several international conspiracies, but the scariest character is definitely Miss Bulstrode.) It won’t come as a surprise, then, that 1,300 living Barnard alumnae–over double the number of the current freshman class–count themselves as published writers. Some of the more luminous examples gather here together (over 70 writers in all), in various combinations, for what Barnard describes as “a day of conversations.” You have to start by imagining Galaxy Craze, of vampire film and angsty-teen-novel fame, having tea with the Gyllenhaals’ mom, Erica Jong, and Suzanne Vega. What they could possibly say to each other defies the imagination–unless, of course, they were to swap war stories. If there’s anything certain about single-sex schooling, it’s that it’s in a league of its own.