Title: Democracy and the Family
3 - April - Lecture
5 - April - Discussion
Lecturer: Nancy F. Cott, Stanley Woodward Professor of History and American Studies

Lecturer BIO : Nancy F. Cott is Stanley Woodward Professor of History and American Studies at Yale, where since 1975 she has taught courses in U.S. history focusing on women and gender issues. She was among the founders of the Women's Studies Program in 1979; has chaired the American Studies Program; and is currently Director of the Division of the Humanities. Her past books include The Bonds of Womanhood: 'Woman's Sphere' in New England, 1780-1835 (1977), The Grounding of Modern Feminism (1987), and A Woman Making History: Mary Ritter Beard through Her Letters (199l). Her most recent book, Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation, was just published by Harvard University Press. She also edited the recently-published No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States. Her articles have appeared in The American Historical Review, The Journal of American History, Feminist Studies, The Journal of Social History, The William and Mary Quarterly, The Yale Review, Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and American Quarterly. She has held research fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Harvard Law School, the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women at Radcliffe College, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California. She recently concluded three years' service on the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians; other activities of hers include serving on editorial boards of academic journals and reference works such as the American National Biography, and on advisory boards of documentary films and public television productions such as the series, "The American Experience." She appears in the PBS film "One Woman, One Vote," on the history of the woman-suffrage movement. She has lectured on college campuses and at academic conferences around the world.

Lecture Description:

The lecture on "Democracy and the Family" will focus on the national public values associated with private families in the twentieth-century United States. This linkage rose to a new level of emphasis during World War II,when political discourse embraced liberty, privacy, and consent as hallmarks of American families. The U.S Supreme Court set these linkages into constitutional interpretation at mid-century, fusing the protection of marital intimacy to the political principles of American democracy, and thus underpinning contemporary constitutional doctrine on privacy rights. The emotional and material comforts of home have continued to be seen as personally-chosen private freedoms and at the same time as public emblems of the nation, essential to its existence and defense. My lecture will pursue the shifting but persistent invocation of these themes through the second half of the twentieth century, in which, it could be said, American political discourse invokes a particular family form as democracy‚s most appealing common denominator.

Copyright 2001, Nancy F. Scott






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