Faculty publications

Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies

Janine Lanza

Director, Early Modern French History

From Wives to Widows in Early Modern Paris: Gender, Economy, and Law

Looking especially at widows of master craftsmen in early modern Paris, this study provides analysis of the social and cultural structures that shaped widows' lives as well as their day-to-day experiences. Janine Lanza examines widows in early modern Paris at every social and economic level, beginning with the late sixteenth century when changes in royal law curtailed the movement of property within families up to the time of the French Revolution. The glimpses she gives us of widows running businesses, debating remarriage, and negotiating marriage contracts offer precious insights into the daily lives of women in this period.


African American Studies

Melba J. Boyd

Poet, Editor, Biographer, African American Literary History, Criticism, Documentary Filmmaker

Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper, 1825-1911

Frances E. W. Harper is a central figure in the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century African-American literature and intellectual thought. The foremost poet of the "free colored community," she was also a lecturer,
educator, essayist, and novelist. A prolific champion of the abolitionist and feminist causes, she has come to be recognized for the critical role she played in the rise of the women's movement, particularly in the development of the black women's movement. Yet neither her art nor her political insight was preserved by subsequent generations until recently. In this important study, poet Melba Joyce Boyd analyzes Harper not simply as a feminist and an activist, but as a writer. Boyd reads her in context, placing Harper's life, poetry, novels, and speeches within the nineteenth-century African-American quest for
"freedom and literacy."

Recent publication: Death Dance of a Butterfly (poetry), Past Tents Press, 2013 Michigan Notable Book Award.


Classical and Modern Literatures, Languages, and Cultures

Anne E. Duggan

Early Modern French Literature and Culture; Fairy-Tale Studies

Salonnières, Furies, and Fairies: The Politics of Gender and Cultural Change in Absolutist France.

Salonnières, Furies, and Fairies is a study of the works of two of the most prolific seventeenth-century women writers, Madeleine de Scudéry and Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy. Analyzing their use of the novel, the chronicle, and the fairy tale, Duggan examines how Scudéry and d'Aulnoy responded to and participated in the changes of their society, but from different generational and ideological positions. As both women wrote from within the context of the salon, this study also takes into account the history of the salon, an unofficial institution that served as a locus for elite women's participation in the cultural and literary production of their society. Duggan demonstrates the need to include writers like Scudéry and d'Aulnoy within the literary canon, not only to understand the history of women writers, but also to better understand the literary field of the period.

Recent publication: Queer Enchantments: Gender, Sexuality, and Class in the Fairy-Tale Cinema of Jacques Demy. October 2013.


Lisabeth Hock

Nineteenth-Century German Women Writers, Psychoanalysis

"Women and Melancholy in Nineteenth-Century German Psychiatry." History of Psychiatry (2011)

This study examines depictions of the relationship between women and melancholia in German psychiatric textbooks published between 1803 and 1913. Focusing in particular on how these texts present the female life cycle, nineteenth-century views about female 'nature' and gender traits, and women's familial and professional roles, it reveals how nineteenth-century psychiatrists were caught between the scientific demand for objective clinical observation and the gender norms of the culture to which they belonged. On the one hand, psychiatrists carefully and sensitively describe female melancholia with evidence obtained through the scientific methods of clinical observation, anatomical investigation and self-questioning. On the other hand, language choice contributes to the naturalization of gender difference by assigning cultural meaning to clinical observations.

Jennifer Sheridan Moss

Documentary papyrology, Greco-Roman Egypt, Women in Antiquity

"Women in Late Antique Egypt." A Companion to Women in the Ancient World. 2012.

"We know of the legendayry philosopher-queen Hypatia . . . largely because of her prominence as a woman who stepped outside traditional boundaries, which led her to be the subject of both curiosity and wrath. But what about ordinary women who passed their lives in the small cities, villages, and countryside of Egypt during late Antiquity? Of course, most women in late antique Egypt lived less colorful, and less dangerous, lives than did Hypatia. They filled traditional female roles, such as mother, wife, and daughter, but also some roles that were less tradtional, such as businesswoman or ascetic. The women we can study are the ones who have come to us by chance, principally because they were wealthy enough to produce paperwork or because they are inadvertently mentioned in the papers of men or women of means. Although we may never have a complete picture of the lives of women in late antique Egypt, our evidence shows women engaging in a wide variety of activities and living interesting lives in the far reaches of the Roman empire."



renee hoogland

Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, Queer Theory

Lesbian Configurations

This book forms an introduction to the of lesbian studies. Steering a middle course between 'high theory' and detailed textual analysis, it provides both those new to the field and more experienced readers in lesbian/gay and feminist scholarship with original insights into the contradictory meanings of lesbian sexuality in Western culture. Exploring different cultural forms, including twentieth-century fiction and Hollywood cinema, hoogland addresses topical theoretical questions concerning the shifting significance of lesbian sexuality as they arise from careful textual analyses. Among the examples discussed are Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, and the Hollywood thriller Basic Instinct.



Elizabeth Faue

Women, Gender, and Labor Movements in the US

Writing the Wrongs: Eva Valesh and the Rise of Labor Journalism

Eva McDonald Valesh was one of the Progressive Era's foremost labor publicists. Challenging the narrow confines placed on women, Valesh became a successful investigative journalist, organizer, and public speaker for labor reform.  Valesh was a compatriot of the labor leaders of her day and the "right-hand man" of Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor. Events she covered during her colorful, unconventional reporting career included the Populist revolt, the Cuban crisis of the 1890s, and the 1910 Shirtwaistmakers' uprising. She was described as bright, even "comet-like," by her admirers, but her enemies saw her as "a pest" who took "all the benefit that her sex controls when in an argument with a man."



John Corvino

Ethical Theory, Applied Ethics, LGBT Studies

What's Wrong with Homosexuality?

For the last twenty years, John Corvino--widely known as the author of the weekly column "The Gay Moralist" --has traversed the country responding to moral and religious arguments against same-sex relationships. In this timely book, he shares that experience--addressing the standard objections to homosexuality and offering insight into the culture wars more generally.

Debating Same-Sex Marriage (with Maggie Gallagher)

Polls and election results show Americans sharply divided on same-sex marriage, and the controversy is unlikely to subside anytime soon. Debating Same-Sex Marriage provides an indispensable roadmap to the ongoing debate. Taking a "point/counterpoint" approach, John Corvino (a philosopher and prominent gay advocate) and Maggie Gallagher (a nationally syndicated columnist and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage) explore fundamental questions around this debate.



Antonia Abbey

Psychology of women, alcohol and sexual assault; gender and infertility

Abbey, A., Wegner, R., Pierce, J., & Jacques-Tiura, A.J. (2012). Patterns of sexual aggression in a community sample of young men: Risk factors associated with persistence, desistance, and initiation over a one year interval. Psychology of Violence2, 1-15.  doi:10.1037/a0026346 (PMC3262661)

Abstract: Objective: The goal of this study is to distinguish risk factors associated with young men's self-reports of continuing (persistence), stopping (desistance), and starting (initiation) sexual aggression against women over a one year time period. Method: Single men age 18 to 35 were recruited through telephone sampling in a large metropolitan region. In person audio computer-assisted self interviews were completed at baseline and one year later (n = 423). Results: By the follow-up interview, half of the participants reported engaging in some type of sexual activity with a woman when they knew she was unwilling since age 14.

Results from discriminant function analysis and analysis of variance demonstrated that persistent sexual aggressors had the most extreme scores on a wide range of baseline and follow-up measures including childhood victimization, social deviance, personality traits, frequency of misperception, and expectancies about alcohol's effects. At follow-up, desisters had fewer sexual partners than did persisters. Also at follow-up, initiators misperceived more women's sexual intentions, had stronger alcohol expectancies, drank more alcohol in sexual situations, and were with women who drank more alcohol as compared to nonperpetrators. Conclusions: Given the extremely high rates of self-reported sexual aggression, multilevel universal and targeted prevention programs need to be developed and evaluated.  

"Acquaintance rape and alcohol consumption on college campuses: How are they linked?" Journal of American College Health, 39, 165-169.