Historian awarded NEH fellowship
University of South Carolina history professor Dr. Marjorie J. Spruill has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to complete her book, “Women’s Rights, Family Values, and the Polarization of American Politics.”
The fellowship comes with an award of $50,000. Spruill will spend the academic year 2010 – 11 writing the book, which details the transformation of American political culture during the 1970s.
“I would like to think that this is important to understanding American politics today,” Spruill said. “This book will speak to a broad audience and contribute to the national conversation about this prolonged period of partisanship and polarization that has continued now for 30 years and is confounding efforts of our leaders to address the most important problems facing our society.
Spruill, a specialist in U.S. history and leading expert on women’s history, focuses her research on both women’s rights advocates and the conservative women who challenged them for the right to speak for American women and influence policy.
“The great debates of that era over women’s rights and social roles played a crucial and largely unrecognized role in this transformation,” Spruill said.
Spruill has been researching this book for 10 years and has interviewed many prominent figures, including President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn; women’s-rights leader Gloria Steinem and Phyllis Schlafly, a leader of conservative women.
“This is one of the most prestigious grants a historian can receive,” said Dr. Lacy Ford, chairman of the history department. “Selections are made from an intensely competitive national pool of applicants. This award is a tribute to Marjorie and is an indication of both how highly her peers regard her work and how important her current project is to the understanding of the modern culture wars.”
Spruill joined USC’s faculty in 2004. She previously taught at Vanderbilt University and the University of Southern Mississippi. She has written or edited numerous books, including her book, “New Women of the New South: The Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States,” and the three-volume series, “South Carolina Women: Their Lives & Times,” which she co-edited with USC professor Dr. Valinda Littlefield and Dr. Joan Maire Johnson of Northeastern Illinois University.