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Scholar Spotlight: Carla Freeman and Sarah Smeed on the Women Who Have Inspired Them

Women have made incredible strides forward in academia. In 2018, 53% of the 79,000 doctoral degrees in the United States were awarded to women. That said, women still face unique challenges when faced with life after the Ph.D.

During March, which is Women’s History Month, the Library, in partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, highlights the accomplishments of women, past and present, from many different fields. You can find these stories, here: https://womenshistorymonth.gov/.

Since the Kluge Center has many women in residence with remarkable scholarly credentials, I took the opportunity to learn about two of them and the collections on which they are working. I started off by asking them who it is that inspires them.

Carla P. Freeman, Associate Research Professor of China Studies and Director of the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University, is the current Library of Congress Chair in U.S.-China Relations. At the Kluge Center, she is working on a project titled: The Enemy’s Lines: China Debates Containment. As a part of her residency, she is planning to host panel discussions about the domestic determinants of Chinese foreign policy, and about China’s international economic policy.

Giselle: Is there a woman in your field or academic career who has inspired you?

Carla: Probably the writer who inspired me the most was Barbara Tuchman. I try to weave historical context through my work, but I am not an historian and I am not the story teller she was. More immediately related to my field is another historian, Nancy Bernkopf Tucker. Her 1983 book Patterns in the Dust: Chinese-American Relations and the Recognition Controversy and the Recognition Controversy, 1949-1950, which I read as an undergraduate, left an indelible Impression on me.

Chinese Embassy, photographed by J. Gurney & Son. The image shows a group portrait of the first Chinese foreign mission abroad led by Anson Burlingame with John McLeavy Brown of Ireland, Ferdinand Auguste Emile Deschamps of France, and ten Chinese men (names written in Chinese under their portraits), including Chih Kang, Sun Chia Ku, and interpreters. 1868. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Sarah Smeed, doctoral researcher in American studies at the University of Kent and Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow at the Kluge Center, is working on a project titled Consuming Appearances: Head Styling and Image in Euro-Indigenous Relations. The Library holds thousands of items related to Native Americans. This link will guide you to some of them.

Giselle: Is there a woman in your field or academic career who has inspired you?

Sarah: The first book I read for my undergraduate dissertation was Karen Ordahl Kupperman’s Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America, and I have always found Kupperman to be an inspiration in how to write cultural encounters in a clear and engaging manner. Whenever I’m struggling with how to approach a source, or I’m stuck on my own paragraph of writing, I always find myself returning to her body of work and coming away with more clarity.

Native American woman. Between 1921 and 1923. Harris & Ewing Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Young Native American woman, half-length, portrait, standing, facing front.

Lucille. c1907. Curtis (Edward S.) Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Did the Earliest Printers Know What Print Was? What a 15th Century Book from the Netherlands Can Tell Us About Culture and Innovation

This is a guest post by Kluge Fellow Anna Dlabacova, Assistant Professor and postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University. She is researching a project titled “Inspiring, Innovative, and Influential: The Role of Gerard Leeu’s Incunabula in Late Medieval Spirituality and Devotional Practice.” She hopes to advance study on the role that incunabula from the Netherlands played […]

Parallel Worlds and the Digital Age: Representing Audio Collections with Digital Data at the American Folklife Center and Beyond

This is a guest post by Patrick Egan (Pádraig Mac Aodhgáin), a researcher and musician from Ireland, former Kluge Center Fellow in Digital Studies and currently on a Fulbright Tech Impact scholarship. He recently submitted his PhD in digital humanities with ethnomusicology to University College Cork. Patrick’s interests over the past number of years have […]

A Route of Her Own: Women’s Road Narratives in the Library of Congress

This is a guest post by Catherine Morgan-Proux, a French Association of American Studies (AEFA) Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center, from the Université Clermont Auvergne. She is working on a project titled “The Road She Travelled: 20th Century Cultural Representations of Women on the Road.” Morgan-Proux’s work is done as part of The […]

What Did Ancient Americans Find Funny?

Stephen Houston is the Library of Congress Kislak Chair for the Study of the History and Cultures of the Early Americas, as well as Dupee Family Professor of Social Science at Brown University. In the lead-up to Professor Houston’s April 25 event at the Library, titled “Flint, Shield, and Fire: Exploring Ancient Maya Warfare,” I […]

Staff Fellow Mark Horowitz’s Book Released in Paperback

Library of Congress Staff Fellow Mark Horowitz is spending his time at the Kluge Center studying the Oscar Hammerstein Jr. correspondence, but his knowledge of the giants of musical theater extends beyond Hammerstein. In Sondheim on Music: Minor Details and Major Decisions (2003) a co-publication with the Library of Congress, Horowitz collected several interviews he […]

African American Passages Episode 4: In Search of Adeline Henson

In the fourth episode of our African American Passages podcast, former John W. Kluge Center Distinguished Visiting Scholar and Georgetown University history professor Adam Rothman goes in search of Adeline Henson, an African-American woman who makes an ephemeral appearance in the Library of Congress’s Manuscript Collections, through two photographs, a bill of sale, and a […]

The Oldest Idea in the World?

The association of directions with colors may be the oldest known set of philosophical ideas in the world, transmitted from ancient Asia to the Americas over 10,000 years ago. Obvious Concepts Some concepts come naturally to humans. In several ancient societies, the moon relates to a goddess, and logically so, for menstruation and lunar cycles […]

War and Superheroes: How the Writer’s War Board Used Comics to Spread its Message in WWII

Historian Paul Hirsch was a Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation Fellow for Caricature and Cartoon at The John W. Kluge Center in summer 2015. His research explored the intersection of visual culture, race, policymaking, and diplomacy from World War II through the post-Cold War period. Paul, your work investigates the convergence of comic book publishing […]