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Caffrey biographical page

Margaret M. Caffrey

Associate Professor

[Margaret M. Caffrey]

Office: 127 Mitchell
Telephone: 901.678.3387
Fax: 901.678.2720
Education: Ph.D., American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1986

Fields of Interest

American women’s history; cultural and intellectual history; biography

My research focuses on American women in diverse time periods. My latest book, To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letters of Margaret Mead, edited with Patricia Francis, is a biography through letters, revealing the intertwining of the personal and the professional in the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. My earlier book, Ruth Benedict: Stranger in This Land, is a biography of an important 20th century anthropologist and intellectual. As a cultural biography, the book examines Benedict’s life, but also the history of anthropology as a discipline and the development of the anthropological idea of culture, which permeates American life and thought today. At present I am working on another book about Margaret Mead, who was a student and later colleague of Benedict’s. The manuscript is tentatively titled “Margaret Mead and the Women’s Movement,” in which I am examining Mead’s complex relationship with women’s rights ideas and issues in the 20th century, along with the development of changing ideas of feminism itself and the influence of these ideas in anthropology through the 1970’s. I have also written about Native American women during the American Colonial Period and 19th century American women.

Courses taught

Thematic Studies: American Cultural History, History of Women in America. Women in the American West, Southern Women, American Intellectual Women, Philosophy of History, History of Gender in America, Colonial Women in America, Women in America: Body Issues, History of Women’s Rights in the U.S., Women and Health in America

Representative publications

  • To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letters of Margaret Mead (edited with Patricia Francis) (New York: Basic Books, 2006)
  • Ruth Benedict: Stranger in This Land (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1989). Japanese edition, Kansai University Press, 1993
  • “The Parable of Manus: Utopian Change, American Influence, and the Worth of Women,” in Dolores Janiewski and Lois Banner, eds., Reading Benedict/Reading Mead (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 141-152
  • “Complementary Power: Men and Women of the Lenni Lenape,” American Indian Quarterly 24(1) (Winter 2000): 44-63
  • “Women and Families,” in American Families, Joseph M. Hawes and Elizabeth Nybakken, eds. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), 223-257
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