Elaine Tyler May

Regents Professor

American Studies, College of Liberal Arts, 2007

Elaine Tyler May, Professor, American Studies and History and Director of Graduate Studies, American Studies Department, College of Liberal Arts, is described as an internationally renowned scholar of 20th century United States History and American Studies. One person wrote, "Her scholarship has transformed American history by linking the family to the public world of politics and work and has made private life a central field of historical inquiry." She has written four books, and is working on her fifth, about the history and culture of the modern American family. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (first published in 1989) was so influential that it continues to be on the reading lists for both graduate and undergraduate courses in American history and American studies, both here and abroad. According to Professor Lois Banner, it "created a huge stir in the academic world," because her study challenged the idea of an apolitical private arena. It changed the way scholars examined the impact of the politics of the Cold War on every day life and the shaping of citizenship not only in the United States but internationally. Great Expectations: Marriage and Divorce in Post-Victorian America, Professor May's first book, is considered to be the definitive work on the history of the subject of divorce from 1890-1920. Her book titled Barren in the Promised Land: Childless Americans and the Pursuit of Happiness (1995) addressed the condition of childlessness and its relationship to the culture and to politics. Professor Mays is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition including, the Distinguished Woman Scholar Award in the Humanities and Social Science, the Fesler-Lampert Chair in the Humanities, the College of Liberal Arts Dean's Medal for Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity, and the College of Liberal Arts Scholar of the College Award. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Council of Learned Societies, to name a few. She has been an invited lecturer and keynote speaker at conferences in several countries and has also published articles in academic journals abroad. Professor May is described as a dedicated teacher and a leader in developing pedagogic strategies consistent to the mission of the University. Students from at least six departments enroll in her graduate courses. She has advised nine Ph.D. students in the past five years and currently she is serving as Ph.D. adviser to ten students and serving on fourteen Ph.D. committees. She has been an active participant on committees that established new requirements for CLA undergraduates and another that generated a cultural diversity requirement. As a member of the Liberal Education Task Force, she helped to place the University of Minnesota on the cutting edge of curricular reform. She has literally served on just about every major departmental, college, and University committee. In addition to her service to the University, Professor May has given to the broader community, especially through the National Teaching American History program and the Minnesota Historical Society. She was elected President of the American Studies Association and named a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians and the American Studies Association. She is also a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of American History and the Journal of Diplomatic History. We are indeed fortunate to have Professor Elaine Tyler May as part of our intellectual community. (Updated, 2007)

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