Profile: Ruth Feldstein

Professor

Faculty
Department of History, Graduate Program in American Studies, Program in Women's and Gender Studies

Research Interests: United States history, with focus on 20th-century culture and politics; women's and gender history; and African American history


Ruth Feldstein received her Ph.D. in History from Brown University in 1996.  Her research, writing and teaching reflect her interest in gender and race and in media and politics as intersecting categories that shape each other. Her first book, Motherhood in Black and White: Race and Sex in American Liberalism, 1930-1965 (Cornell, 2000), is an intellectual and cultural history of liberalism from the New Deal to the Great Society. By tracing a developing consensus about black women as bad “matriarchs” and white women
as bad “moms” in a range of sources-- films, popular news media, intellectual discourse, civil rights activism, and welfare legislation--this book argued that conservative gender ideologies were central to the process through which race became prominent in American liberalism.

She is currently completing a manuscript about black women entertainers (Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Abbey Lincoln and Cicely Tyson) and their significance to the civil rights movement and to the development of second-wave feminism.

Professor Feldstein has received support for her research from the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute; the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University; the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University; and the American Association for University Women, among others.  An article about Nina Simone that appeared in the Journal of American History, was awarded the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize, Best Article on Black Women’s History.

  • Courses Taught

    Undergraduate:
    American Popular Cultures, 1890-1945
    American Popular Cultures, 1945-2001
    African American Women's History, Slavery-Present
    History of Sexuality in the U.S., 1900-Present

    Graduate:
    Introduction to American Studies: Scope and Methods
    Narrating Race:  Research Seminar on “Race” and American Studies
    The United States in the 1960s and 70s: Interdisciplinary Approaches to a Contested Period, graduate research seminar,
    American Popular Cultures: Research Seminar

  • Education

    Ph.D., Brown, 1996

  • Expertise

    United States history, with focus on 20th-century culture and politics; women's and gender history; and African American history