Binghamton University's History department combines the best of what I most value professionally — excellent, student-oriented teaching and rigorous, high-quality scholarship.
I love teaching—alone and with my spouse who is also an historian and regularly teaches the large modern U.S. survey with me. My favorite classes to teach are "Women in the Modern U.S." and "Sex and Law in the Modern U.S." Because I don't really like to lecture—I don't feel like I'm teaching when I lecture—my classes are always interactive and make use of PowerPoint, not to deliver information but to provoke discussion with illustrations and primary source materials.
My scholarly work revolves around one key problem—understanding the gendered and changing nature of sexual culture in the twentieth-century United States. How Sex Became a Civil Liberty (HSBCL), my most recent book, addresses this question by showing how generations of leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) changed the ways Americans think about, legislate, and adjudicate sexuality. I show how the ACLU did this by developing and promoting new constitutional rights, including privacy and the consumer's right to speech. Like my first book, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty is a people-driven story. It relates private lives to public activism to explain ACLU leaders' internal debates, evolving policies, changing strategies, and relationships with individuals and institutions outside the organization over sexual issues, including birth control, nudism, obscenity & pornography, abortion, sterilization, gay rights, rape, and sexual harassment.
Online Reviews of How Sex Became a Civil Liberty
Review of HSBCL by New York Journal of Books
Review of HSBCL by reason.com
Review of HSBCL by Civil Liberties Review Forum
Review by Center for Law and Religion Forum
Review by The Gospel Coalition
Review on Legal History Blog
Review in Tulsa Law Review
Other scholarly reviews of How Sex Became a Civil Liberty can be viewed below:
HSBCL has also been reviewed by Social Forces and the Women and Social Movements website.
Media Coverage of How Sex Became a Civil LibertyThe Daily Beast: "The Big Idea: How Sex Became a Civil Liberty"
Against Obscenity: Reform and the Politics of Womanhood in America, 1873-1935, my first book, shows how women reshaped the ways Americans thought about and adjudicated obscenity. They did this by refocusing debates about the harm of obscenity around children and presenting explicit sex education as an antidote. Against Obscenity also shows how the right to vote—not having it and then getting it—affected women's reform in unexpected ways. Readers will be surprised to see how movie moguls and burlesque theater owners in the early twentieth-century bowed to but also strategized around women's demands.
Other scholarly reviews of AO can be viewed below:
AO has also been reviewed by the, Women and Social Movements Website.
"'Where Else But Greenwich Village?': The Emergence of the American Civil Liberties Union's Sexual Rights Agenda, 1920-1932," Journal of the History of Sexuality, 21, 1 (January, 2012), 60-92.
"Rescuing Sex from Prudery and Prurience: American Women's Use of Sex Education as an Antidote to Obscenity, 1925-1932," 12, 3 Journal of Women's History (Autumn), 173-195.
"From Reading Shakespeare to Reforming Burlesque: The Minneapolis Women's Club and the Women's Welfare League, 1907-1920," 25, 1 Michigan Historical Review (January 1999), 44-75.
"Battling Over Burlesque: Conflicts Between Maternalism, Paternalism, and Organized Labor, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1920-1932," 20, 2 Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies (1999) 148-74.
My colleague, Jean Quataert and I have co-edited the Journal of Women's History since 2010. With Elisa Camiscioli (book review editor) and Benita Roth (associate editor), we are working to raise the Journal's visibility and enhance its presence on the internet while further developing the Journal's contributions to the ongoing project of internationalizing women's history.
Graduate students who work with me pursue a wide range of research interests in the history of women, gender, Progressivism, social movements, sexuality, media, and civil liberties. Their projects include the following dissertations and topics:
Last Updated: 10/6/14