The Journal of Women’s History partners with the New Books Network to host a podcast profiling recent publications in women’s history. Our team of interviewers sit down for conversations with the authors of recent books in the field. If you are interested in participating in one of these conversations, please contact us directly at

Latest Episode

Feb. 18, 2021

Traci Brynne Voyles (Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Women’s & Gender Studies, University of Oklahoma) speaks with Cathleen D. Cahill (Associate Professor, Department of History, Pennsylvania State University) about her recent book, Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2020).

Women of color shaped the U.S. suffrage movement, framing women’s right to vote as fundamental to parallel movements for racial justice and citizenship reforms. In a collective biography of six suffrage activists, Cahill profiles three Indigenous women: Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin, and Laura Cornelius Kellogg alongside Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, Carrie Williams Clifford, and Nina Otero-Warren who brought the interests of Chinese immigrants, African-Americans, and Hispano-Americans respectively to the suffrage movement. Their struggles emphasize the ongoing work to make the political nation more equitable. In a wide-ranging conversation Cahill and Voyles grapple with the profound consequences of digitization of newspapers and government records on historical methods, and the methods by which people with divergent interests rooted in the perspectives of minoritized communities might still develop methods to speak across those differences to mobilize for a common political objective.

Recent Episodes

Dec. 11, 2020

Sarah Hines (Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Oklahoma) and James Cane-Carrasco (Associate Professor, Departments of History and International & Area Studies, University of Oklahoma) speak with Lessie Jo Frazier (Professor, Departments of Gender Studies and American Studies, Indiana University-Bloomington) about her new book, Desired States: Sex, Gender, and Political Culture in Chile (Rutgers University Press, 2020).

In a powerful refutation to scholars who relegate gendered social order and sexuality to the private sphere, Lessie Jo Frazier contends that desire played a central role in the political culture of the modern Chilean state. In four chapters and an epilogue that span 1913 to 2019, Prof. Frazier documents how public debates over sexuality—including those over working women’s behavior, the vulnerability of male prisoners of war, and socialist masculinities—have long shaped the body politic. Frazier unites ethnographic fieldwork, cultural criticism and extensive archival research to highlight how states and political movements conjure or condemn people’s desires for institutional purposes. Join us for a conversation about the serendipity that brought her to research in Chile, and the diverse influences that shaped this book.

Dec. 3, 2020

Jane K. Wickersham (Associate Professor of History, University of Oklahoma) speaks with Amanda L. Scott (Assistant Professor, Penn State University) about her new book The Basque Seroras: Local Religion, Gender and Power in Northern Iberia, 1550-1800 (Cornell University Press, 2020).

Neither wives nor nuns, the seroras fulfilled an essential religious role in early modern Basque communities.  Amanda L. Scott explores the lives of the devout laywomen who cared for and maintained churches and shrines in the Basque country, and in so doing reconceptualizes how to frame the social and religious limitations placed on early modern women.

Seroras performed essential religious work in their communities; yet they only made simple promises (rather than holy vows), rendering their religious vocations more flexible and their lifestyle more autonomous. Using a wide variety of archival sources, in over seven chapters Scott analyzes the seroras’ relationships with diocesan officials and local communities.  Despite the Tridentine-era efforts to more strictly regulate the lives of religious women, Scott finds that both episcopal authorities and communities had a vested interest in negotiating and maintaining the seroras in their religious roles.  They were seen as essential to the maintenance of the church, physically and spiritually, and as collaborators in furthering some aspects of Tridentine reform.  Scott sensitively explores these women’s work, and the complexities, ambiguities, and conflicts engendered by their autonomous religious status.  Scott, in this important book, closely examines the lived experiences of seroras to reach a new understanding of the nature of religious reform in early modern Iberia.

NBN + JWH Episode 5: Amanda L. Scott

Oct. 13, 2020

Jennifer J. Davis (Co-Editor Journal of Women’s History; Associate Professor of History, University of Oklahoma) speaks with Julie Hardwick (John E. Green Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin) about her new book Sex in an Old Regime City: Young Workers and Intimacy in France, 1660-1789 (Oxford University Press, 2020).

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Or use the code AAFLYG6 for 30% off on the Oxford University Press website.

Young women and men sought out each other’s company in the workshops, cabarets, and streets of Old Regime Lyon, and evidence of these relationships lingers in documents and material objects conserved in Lyon’s municipal and departmental archives. How did young workers spend time together? When would they initiate sexual relationships outside of marriage? What resources did they marshal to manage pregnancy and childbirth, and what kind of support might they expect from their neighbors, employers, and families? In paternity suits, young women provided direct answers to these questions, and left an incomparable archive testifying to their desires, hopes, loss, and often, grief resulting from “courtships gone awry.”

Hardwick opens the book with a a beaded garter preserved in the archives of Lyon’s foundling hospital. It reads “I am going away but not leaving you.” Was it left with the baby as an identifying mark? Had it been exchanged between parents, or made by one of them? This “momento is a tantalizing connection to the elusive world of young people’s intimacy in Old Regime France,” testifying to the tangled emotions of desire, hope, despair, and grief that might have attended this moment of surrender. (p. 1)

(Archives Municipales de Lyon HCL HD G85  27 April 1768)

In six chapters, Hardwick explores the contours and consequences of these intimate relationships highlighting courtship practices, young women’s agency, and young men’s financial responsibility for babies conceived out of wedlock. She then turns to pregnancy ‘remedies,’ the paid work created within an “economy of reproduction,” and community care for foundlings and infanticide. This is an extraordinary work of history that emphasizes powerful continuities in heteronormative sexuality across two centuries.

NBN + JWH Episode 4 : Julie Hardwick

July 15, 2020

Sandie Holguín (Co-Editor, Journal of Women’s History; Professor of History, University of Oklahoma) speaks with Jennifer L. Holland about her book, Tiny You: A Western History of the Anti-Abortion Movement (University of California Press, 2020).

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In addition to her book, Dr. Holland has recently published an article in Feminist Studies, “‘Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust’: Children and Young Adults in the Anti-Abortion Movement.” Dr. Holland is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma and Book Review Editor for the Journal of Women’s History.

In Tiny You, Holland tells the story of one of the most successful political movements of the twentieth century in the United States: the grassroots campaign against legalized abortion.

The interview covers the origins, spread, and success of this conservative movement in the Mountain West during the latter half of the twentieth century. Although she discusses the many leaders of the movement, her focus is on how women at the local level championed the rights of fetuses in domestic spaces, churches, and schools, therefore changing the tenor of local, state, and national politics in enduring ways.

After reading this book, one can never look at American conservatism or anti-abortion politics in the same way again. Please join us for an enlightening interview.

JWH + NBN Episode 3: Jennifer L. Holland

July 1, 2020

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Age of Phillis (Wesleyan University Press 2020). $26.95. 200pp. ISBN 0819579491

Jennifer J. Davis (Co-Editor, Journal of Women’s History; Associate Professor of History, University of Oklahoma) speaks with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma, about The Age of Phillis (Wesleyan UP, 2020). Jeffers’s latest collection of poems centers on the remarkable life of America’s first poet of African descent, Phillis Wheatley Peters. The Society of Early Americanists recently selected The Age of Phillis as the subject for their Common Reading Initiative for 2021. Prof. Jeffers has published four additional volumes of poetry including The Glory Gets and The Gospel of Barbecue, and alongside fiction and critical essays. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

In The Age of Phillis, Jeffers draws on fifteen years of research in archives and locations across America, Europe and Africa to envision the world of Phillis Wheatley Peters: from the daily rhythms of her childhood in Senegambia, the trauma of her capture and transatlantic transport, to the icy port of Boston where she was enslaved and educated. In our conversation, Jeffers speaks to the origins of this project, reveals how she embarked on the research and writing process, and shares a few powerful poems from the volume.

JWH + NBN Episode 2: Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

June 1, 2020

Pamela S. Nadell, America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co, 2019). The paperback edition of Nadell’s award-winning book will be released this Spring 2020.

Ronnie Grinberg (Asst. Professor of History, University of Oklahoma) speaks with Pamela S. Nadell, the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History and director of Jewish studies at American University. Nadell’s books include America’s Jewish Women, winner of the Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year Award from the Jewish Book Council, and Women Who Would Be Rabbis, a National Jewish Book Award finalist. Prof. Nadell lives in North Bethesda, Maryland.

In America’s Jewish Women, Nadell surveys the varied experiences of Jewish women who made America their home. In elegant prose, she introduces readers to a cast of characters from the seventeenth century to the present day. Our interview provides a brief overview of the book’s arguments and archival research, before turning to important questions of how women’s history, Jewish history and American history might work together, as well as enduring tensions between these fields. Nadell and Grinberg also call attention to some distinctive features of Judaism in America, the social roots of Jewish women’s political activism, and reveal a shared passion for mah jong! Please enjoy this conversation between two colleagues with a deep admiration for each other’s work. 

Ronnie Grinberg is Assistant Professor in the History Department and Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She is completing a manuscript on New York Jewish intellectuals in the twentieth century to be published with Princeton University Press.

JWH & NBN Episode 1: Pamela Nadell