Today’s post is part two of a three-part interview with Mary Beth Norton. If you missed yesterday’s post, catch it here and get with the program!
At the end of yesterday’s interview, Norton talked about how she transformed herself from a historian of loyalists in the American Revolution into a women’s historian. She spoke of an anecdote in which a senior scholar in her field wondered why she had given up loyalists to study women, when her loyalist work was “perfectly OK!” In today’s conversation, Norton and I move from a discussion about feminist scholarship to a conversation about feminist activism in the historical profession. She also talks about her feminist mentors in the academy, and about the relationships and organization that has sustained her through her career.
Historiann: I am pretty sure that if you had stuck with the loyalists, you would not have achieved the stature in your fields that you have as a women’s historian!
I assume that as your star rose as a historian that you were able to make some changes in the Cornell history department itself, such as hiring more women and continuing to diversify the curriculum. Can you tell us more about this side of your feminist activism? Who or what was most helpful to you, and what (if any) obstacles still remain in your view to sex equality in academia or the historical profession in particular? Continue Reading »