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Beth Bailey

Guest Speaker


    January 1, 2005 — May 1, 2005

    Professional affiliation

    Foundation Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Center for Military, War, and Society Studies, University of Kansas

    Wilson Center Projects

    "To ‘Be All That You Can Be': Recruiting the All-Volunteer Military"

    Full Biography

    Perhaps it is a result of growing up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s, but I've long sought to understand the relationship between actions taken at a national level and the ways those actions affect the nation's citizens–not only their behaviors, but also the changing ways they understand the world in which they live. As a cultural historian, I've explored that question primarily in relation to gender and sexuality in American history, but in writing The First Strange Place, a book about gender and race in WWII Hawaii, I asked such questions about the effects of war in American culture and society. The next step was to create a course on war in American culture, which I taught at both Barnard College and at the University of New Mexico, as I also continued to teach courses on American cultural history and on gender and sexuality. It was in that context that the idea for this project emerged. This project extends into new venues questions I've dealt with in previous works. In my last two scholarly monographs, I've analyzed the ways that major U.S. institutions, in pursuing their specific agendas and goals, helped to bring about changes in American society that were often tangential to or unrelated to those goals. I've tried to explore how different parts of America's diverse population are actually or symbolically incorporated into America's civil society–and to think about what that means both for them and for American society as a whole. I'm interested in how we come to re-imagine our nation and in how social change actually takes place. These are the questions at the heart of this study and, I believe, at the heart of a humanities scholarship that can help us confront the difficult challenges of an increasingly diverse nation and an increasingly interconnected world. One of the things I've most enjoyed in the past few years is participating in international scholarly exchanges, including time as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the University of Indonesia in 1996, as a visiting scholar in Japan in 2000 and 2002, and in Russia as a member of a working group on Cold War culture in 2004.


    B.A. (1979) American Culture, Northwestern University; M.A. (1981) and Ph.D. (1986) History, University of Chicago


    Gender Issues,U.S. History


    • Professor, Department of History, Temple University, 2004–present
    • Professor and Associate Professor of American Studies, University of New Mexico, 1998–2004
    • Director, Feminist Research Institute, University of New Mexico, 2001–04
    • Fulbright Senior Lecturer, University of Indonesia, 1996
    • Associate and Assistant Professor and Director of American Studies Program, Barnard College, Columbia University, 1989-97
    • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Kansas, 1987–89





    War and American culture/society; 20th century American cultural and social history, with a focus on gender and sexuality




    Recent Insights & Analysis

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    Major Publications

    • Sex in the Heartland (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999)
    • The First Strange Place: Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii, co-authored with David Farber (New York: The Free Press, 1992)
    • From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in 20th Century America (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988)