Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Christine Stansell's "The Feminist Promise"

Christine Stansell is the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Chicago. Her previous books include American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century and City of Women: Sex and Class in New York 1789–1860. She writes widely about matters of feminism and American history in print and online, including for The New Republic, Salon, and The Daily Beast. Among other awards, Stansell has received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and the Mary Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Feminist Promise: 1792 to the Present, and reported the following:
Open up The Feminist Promise to p. 99 and you have a story about a woman you never heard of, Belva Lockwood, and her machinations in the 1870s in Washington DC to catapult out of obscurity into the ranks of the movers and shakers. You see how hard it was for a woman to do anything besides toil in obscurity, and how hard she worked her connections to become (and you learn this on that very page) one of a handful of women admitted to law schools and then the bar, and then (and here's the kicker) the first woman to be admitted before the bar of the Supreme Court. Most of the book is about the twentieth century, so maybe it's not the best place to begin; but you do get a sense of the book's preference for odd characters and of my interest in writing about how politics shaped the fullness of lives. The Feminist Promise tries to make feminism a living, breathing, argumentative matter.
Read an excerpt from The Feminist Promise, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue