300 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Gender about their New Books

New Books in Gender Studies New Books Network

    • Social Sciences

Interviews with Scholars of Gender about their New Books

    Carol Dyhouse, "Hearthrobs: A History of Women and Desire" (Oxford UP, 2017)

    Carol Dyhouse, "Hearthrobs: A History of Women and Desire" (Oxford UP, 2017)

    What can a cultural history of the heartthrob teach us about women, desire, and social change? From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing military heroes, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us as much about the history of women as about masculine icons.
    When girls were supposed to be shrinking violets, passionate females risked being seen as "unbridled," or dangerously out of control. Change came slowly, and young women remained trapped in double-binds. You may have needed a husband in order to survive, but you had to avoid looking like a gold-digger. Sexual desire could be dangerous: a rash guide to making choices. Show attraction too openly and you might be judged "fast" and undesirable.
    Education and wage-earning brought independence and a widening of cultural horizons. Young women in the early twentieth century showed a sustained appetite for novel-reading, cinema-going, and the dancehall. They sighed over Rudolph Valentino's screen performances, as tango-dancer, Arab tribesman, or desert lover. Contemporary critics were sniffy about "shop-girl" taste in literature and in men, but as consumers, girls had new clout.
    In Hearthrobs: A History of Women and Desire (Oxford University Press, 2017), social and cultural historian Carol Dyhouse draws upon literature, cinema, and popular romance to show how the changing position of women has shaped their dreams about men, from Lord Byron in the early nineteenth century to boy-bands in the early twenty-first. Reflecting on the history of women as consumers and on the nature of fantasy, escapism, and "fandom," she takes us deep into the world of gender and the imagination. A great deal of feminist literature has shown women as objects of the "male gaze": this book looks at men through the eyes of women.
    In this interview, Jana Byars, the academic director of SIT Amsterdam, talks with Dyhouse about Hearthrobes. Though clearly rooted in her earlier academic work, this divergence into popular history provides a smart and delightful read. Jana and Carol talk about the female gaze, male stereotypes, and the power of popular culture.
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    • 31 min
    Emily Colbert Cairns, "Esther in Early Modern Iberia and the Sephardic Diaspora: Queen of the Conversas" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

    Emily Colbert Cairns, "Esther in Early Modern Iberia and the Sephardic Diaspora: Queen of the Conversas" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

    Emily Colbert Cairns’ book, Esther in Early Modern Iberia and the Sephardic Diaspora: Queen of the Conversas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), traces the biblical figure of Esther, the secret Jewish Queen, as she is reinvented as the patron saint for the early modern Sephardic community. This hybrid globetrotter emerges repeatedly in dramatic texts, poetry, and even visual representation in the global Sephardic diaspora on the Iberian Peninsula, Amsterdam, and New Spain. Colbert Cairns argues that Esther’s female body emerges as a site for power struggles and symbolic territory for drawing constantly moving communal boundaries. While certain early modern representations of Esther mobilize this queen promote traditional values for proper female behavior (obedience, deference to male authority, beauty), Colbert Cairns shows that Esther’s identity exceeds facile notions of national, ethnic, or racial identity and instead opens out a sense of Sephardic difference beyond geographical boundaries.
    Elizabeth Spragins is assistant professor of Spanish at the College of the Holy Cross. Her current book project is on corpses in early modern Mediterranean narrative. You can follow her on Twitter @elspragins.
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    • 54 min
    Rachel Chrastil, "How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life Without Children" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Rachel Chrastil, "How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life Without Children" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    In this episode, Jana Byars talks with Rachel Chrastil, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences and member of the history department at Xavier University, about her newest book, How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life Without Children (Oxford University Press, 2019). This book is, at its heart, a history book, exploring the most personal of women’s decisions from the 1500s on. It also makes a stab at providing childless women with a narrative to support their own choices. From the introduction, “Childless women may think that they are alone in this experience, but, in fact, they can draw on a long history of childlessness that extends for centuries. With the exception of the baby boom, widespread childlessness has been a long-standing reality in northwestern European towns and cities from around 1500 onward.” This books attempts the difficult task of marrying scholarship with modern cultural study. The work is excellent, and the conversation fun.
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    • 36 min
    Eileen Botting, "The Wollstonecraftian Mind" (Routledge, 2019)

    Eileen Botting, "The Wollstonecraftian Mind" (Routledge, 2019)

    Eileen Hunt Botting is Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame and co-editor with Sandrine Berges and Alan Coffee of the anthology The Wollstonecraftian Mind (Routledge, 2019). The collection presents thirty-nine essays from distinguished scholars in philosophy, religion, literature, intellectual history, and other fields who consider the work of the eighteenth-century British philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft. A political and moral thinker and a forerunner to modern feminism she has not received attention on par with the wide breath of her ideas. The collection gives the reader insight into to her life, major works of philosophy and novels, debates with Edmund Burke and Rousseau, and enduring legacy. She commented on religion, liberalism, republicanism, moral virtue, education, women’s place in society and much more. Her ideas were known to women such as Lucretia Mott, Virginia Woolf, and Simone de Beauvoir who found in her a source for building a modern feminist philosophy. Timely and fruitful, The Wollstone-craftian Mind provides a board survey of an erudite thinker and a source for understanding the politics of the modern era.
    Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her most recent book is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology (Oxford University Press, 2018). Her current research project is on the intellectual history of feminism seen through the emblematic life and work of Simone de Beauvoir.
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    Rachel Louise Moran, "Governing Bodies: American Politics and the Shaping of the Modern Physique" (U Penn Press, 2018)

    Rachel Louise Moran, "Governing Bodies: American Politics and the Shaping of the Modern Physique" (U Penn Press, 2018)

    How did the modern, American body come into being? According to Rachel Louise Moran this is a story to be told through the lens of the advisory state. In her book, Governing Bodies: American Politics and the Shaping of the Modern Physique (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), she tracks the emergence of the American advisory state -- a key analytic introduced and developed by the author in this book -- and draws attention to polyvalence of bodies as both instruments and objects of public policy. Presenting a series of “body projects” which were pursued both formally and informally by the US federal state, Moran makes a case for the persistent political uses of physique throughout more than a century. In this manner, the author manages to tell a story not only of state expansion and citizenship, but also of gender roles, heteronormativity, standards of normality, and weight. This book, therefore, will be of great interest not only to US historians but also scholars interested in the medicalization of the body, gender and sexuality, childhood development, public health, and fat studies.
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    • 50 min
    Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, "Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America" (W. W. Norton, 2019)

    Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, "Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America" (W. W. Norton, 2019)

    Descendants of a prominent slaveholding family, Elizabeth, Grace, and Katharine Lumpkin grew up in a culture of white supremacy. But while Elizabeth remained a lifelong believer, her younger sisters chose vastly different lives. Seeking their fortunes in the North, Grace and Katharine reinvented themselves as radical thinkers whose literary works and organizing efforts brought the nation’s attention to issues of region, race, and labor.
    In Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America (W. W. Norton, 2019), National Humanities Award–winning historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall follows the divergent paths of the Lumpkin sisters, who were “estranged and yet forever entangled” by their mutual obsession with the South. Tracing the wounds and unsung victories of the past through to the contemporary moment, Hall revives a buried tradition of Southern expatriation and progressivism; explores the lost, revolutionary zeal of the early twentieth century; and muses on the fraught ties of sisterhood.
    Grounded in decades of research, the family’s private papers, and interviews with Katharine and Grace, Sisters and Rebels unfolds an epic narrative of American history through the lives and works of three Southern women.
    Jacquelyn Dowd Hall is Julia Cherry Spruill Professor Emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was one of the founders of the modern field of women’s history and helped to spark a thriving scholarship in southern labor history and to turn the study of the civil rights movement in new directions. She was awarded a National Humanities Medal for her efforts to deepen the nation’s engagement with the humanities by “recording history through the lives of ordinary people, and, in so doing, for making history.” She is past president of the Organization of American Historians and the Southern Historical Association and founding president of the Labor and Working Class History Association.
    Hall's books and articles include Revolt Against Chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women’s Campaign Against Lynching (1979, 1993), winner of the Francis B. Simkins and Lillian Smith Awards; Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (1987, 2000), winner of the Albert J. Beveridge Award, Merle Curti Award, and the Philip Taft Labor History Prize; and “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,” Journal of American History (2005), an effort to challenge the myth that the movement was a short, successful bid to overcome segregation in the Jim Crow South. She has also won awards for graduate teaching and contributions to the fields of oral history and working-class history. She has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study, the National Humanities Center, and other institutions. She was elected to the Society of American Historians in 1990 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, in 2011.
    Beth A. English is director of the Liechtenstein Institute’s Project on Gender in the Global Community at Princeton University. She also is a past president of the Southern Labor History Association.
     
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    • 40 min

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