Title: Oral History Interview with Margaret Anne O'Connor, July 1, 1987. Interview L-0031.
Interviewer: Dean, Pamela
Interviewee: O'Connor, Margaret Anne
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.