Major Field: Women’s and Gender History
Other Fields: Global History and United States History
Adviser: Jacquelyn D. Hall
BA University of Massachusetts at Boston, 2007
MA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010
MA Thesis: “‘I Was Doing Something I Didn’t Even Think I Could Do’: Crystal Lee Sutton and the Campaign to Unionize J.P. Stevens”
My major field of study is nineteenth- and twentieth-century American history, with a particular focus on women’s and gender history and working-class history since the 1940s. My minor field is global history, with an emphasis on the global movement of labor and capital in the twentieth century and global women’s history. My teaching experience includes oral history, the history of business in America, and women’s history. My dissertation, “The Many Norma Raes: Working-Class Women in the Struggle to Unionize J.P. Stevens, 1963–1980,” examines the experiences of white and African American working-class women in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, the site of a contentious campaign to organize textile workers that lasted nearly two decades. The high-profile struggle was the basis for the 1979 Academy-awarding winning film, Norma Rae, and drew support from women’s groups, clergy and religious organizations, and public health activists. Yet we know little about the women at the center of the campaign, about how race, womanhood, religion, sexuality, and rumor and community shaped their political consciousness and their activism. Placing their stories in the context of the political and cultural shifts of the 1960s and 1970s, I examine how changing attitudes about gender, race, and sexuality affected the union’s campaign and national debates over labor politics and sexual politics.