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Helen Horowitz is the Sydenham Clark Parsons professor of history. Her research ranges over a number of areas: urban life, cultural philanthropy, women, higher education, biography, sexuality, sexual representation, censorship, intimate life, and understandings of health and illness.
Her book, Culture and the City examined the cultural institutions of 19th–century Chicago. A series of articles on zoological gardens looked at the relation between conceptions of wild animals and human society and their presentation. Alma Mater probed the ways in which founders of women's colleges expressed their hopes and fears about women as they offered them the liberal arts. Campus Life looked at the history of undergraduate cultures. The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr College and feminist, 1857–1935, appeared in 1994. Rereading Sex was published in 2002, and explores sexual representations and the campaign to censor them that led to the landmark Comstock Law of 1873 that barred obscene materials, contraceptive information and devices, and abortion advertisements from the U.S. mails. Currently Professor Horowitz is working on sporting men in the 1840s and the understanding of health and illness in the nineteenth century.
Professor Horowitz's teaching deals with several of these areas. History 279 survey the American city, looking particularly at its manifold cultures. History 383, a research seminar, works with students as they explore the Sophia Smith Collection and Smith College Archives. Two American Studies courses, an introductory course and a senior symposium, allow interdisciplinary exploration.