Smith College to Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Betty Friedan, 1921-2006
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Three authors whose writings explore aspects of the women’s movement will discuss the ways in which feminist crusader and Smith College alumna Betty Friedan reshaped attitudes about women’s lives on Friday, Sept. 15, at 2 p.m. in Seelye 201.
The panel discussion, called “Then and N.O.W.: A Life and a Legacy,” refers to Friedan’s role as a founder and first president of the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) and is free and open to the public.
Friedan, who died Feb. 4 on her 85th birthday, graduated from Smith in 1942. Fifteen years later, conversations with her college classmates led to Friedan’s first book, “The Feminine Mystique,” which is credited with triggering the modern women’s rights movement.
In “The Feminine Mystique,” Friedan detailed frustration in the lives of American women who as homemakers were expected to find fulfillment in the achievements of their husbands and children. The three-member panel will discuss the effects of Friedan’s book on society and other seminal points in her life.
The panel includes Smith faculty members Daniel Horowitz, the Mary Huggins Gamble Professor of American Studies, and Nancy Whittier, associate professor of sociology, along with Barbara Seaman, co-founder of the National Women’s Health Network. It will be moderated by Marilyn R. Schuster, Smith’s Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and professor in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender.
Horowitz’ book “Betty Friedan and the Making of ‘The Feminine Mystique’: The American Left, the Cold War and Modern Feminism” earned him the Constance Rourke Prize from the American Studies Association and the annual book prize from the Northeast Popular Culture Association. As a scholar, he has focused on how American writers have responded to affluence and consumer culture since the 1830s.
Whittier is the author of “Feminist Generations: The Persistence of the Radical Women’s Movement,” which examines questions of political generations among feminists and the development of the U.S. radical and lesbian feminist movements from the 1960s to the 1990s. She is co-editor of “Feminist Frontiers,” an anthology in the sociology of gender, and co-editor of two special issues of the journal Gender & Society on gender and social movements.
Seaman co-founded the National Women’s Health Network, a women’s advocacy group in Washington, D.C., and is an advanced science writing fellow at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Her books include “The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth;” “For Women Only: Your Guide to Health Empowerment;” and “Women and the Crisis of Sex Hormones.”
Marilyn R. Schuster
Schuster is the co-author of “Women’s Place in the Academy: Transforming the Liberal Arts Curriculum.” As a scholar, she has focused on curriculum transformation, women’s studies and French and comparative literature. She is currently working on a study of Canadian women writers at the turn of the century as well as an analysis of the first decade of publication of The Ladder, a journal published by an early lesbian organization.
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,600 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.
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