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Oral History Interview with Margaret Anne O'Connor, July 1, 1987. Interview L-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    English professor Margaret O'Connor reviews her early teaching experiences at UNC and how they led her to become interested in women's literature. She attributes much of her growing feminist awareness to Katherine Carmichael and to her students, who pushed for many of the early changes that occurred for women. As the status of women became an increasingly important topic, more and more demands were made on the female faculty who were already at the school. In response to these pressures, Catherine Maley established a women's forum so that they could share their stories. O'Connor responds with empathy when addressing the opposition to feminist faculty initiatives at the time, reflecting on how the male faculty must have felt. Despite this opposition, the women's studies department gained faculty approval, and the first class was taught by Joan Scott. The first director of women's studies was Mary Turner Lane, for whom O'Connor has great respect, though at the time she was disappointed in the way Lane handled the administrative side of the position. She credits Lane with improving the visibility of the program. O'Connor was on the board that appointed Lane's successor; she expresses her disappointment with the selection process and with the final selection. Nonetheless, O'Connor says she feels hopeful about the future of women's studies at UNC.
    Excerpts
  • O'Connor becomes interested in women's studies
  • Katherine Carmichael's contributions to gender equity
  • Female graduate students play important role in the push for gender equality at UNC
  • Catherine Maley encourages female faculty to share their past struggles
  • Reflection on the male facutly who resisted feminism in the academy
  • Committee that proposed the women's studies department
  • Joan Scott's dedication to women's studies and women's issues on campus
  • Mary Turner Lane's dedication to women's studies and women's issues
  • Mary Turner Lane chosen as the first director of women's studies at UNC
  • All that has changed for the new generation of faculty members
  • Lane's leadership increases local visibility for the women's movement
  • Jane Sherron De Hart Mathews takes over women's studies
  • The future is bright for women's studies
  • Citation
    Interview L-0031, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.