By Sam Gringlas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 24, 2013
History enthusiasts, mark your calendars.
C-SPAN, the cable network known for uninterrupted broadcasts of congressional hearings, is set to air a lecture Saturday that was delivered by History Prof. Gina Morantz-Sanchez.
The lecture will air at 8 p.m. on C-SPAN3 — channel 105 in Ann Arbor. Morantz-Sanchez’s lecture will be featured on American History TV, a weekend-long programming block designed especially for history buffs. Each weekend, a college lecture is featured in the 8 p.m. timeslot, branded as “Lectures in History.”
Morantz-Sanchez’s lecture will cover the backlash toward the Women’s Liberation Movement during the 1970s and 1980s, including the conservative women who fervently fought against the Equal Rights Amendment, which was never ratified. The episode was taped during a lecture the 2013 winter semester in Morantz-Sanchez’s course, “Women in American History Since 1870.”
When Morantz-Sanchez earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1971, classes like “Women in American History” would never have appeared on the pages of a university course guide.
“When I went to graduate school, I learned nothing really, except the ability to tell good history from bad history because none of the history we practice today really existed,” Morantz-Sanchez said.
At the time, she said most history classes were about ‘male history.’
“We never spoke about women,” Morantz-Sanchez said.
History as studied at universities and taught in classrooms, she said, was told through a narrow lens. The subject generally ignored the complexities of race, class and gender — it generally focused on a political narrative absent of cultural influences.
Morantz-Sanchez left Columbia later that year. At that time, interest in the Civil Rights Movement was growing at universities. Morantz-Sanchez considered trekking down South to register disenfranchised voters.
“Growing up in this extraordinary 12 years of social and political change in the ’60s and ’70s, I think many of us were open to thinking outside the box,” she said. “And one of the first things the Civil Rights Movement did was to touch other people living in American society.”
In essence, the period’s political tumult influenced Morantz-Sanchez and her contemporaries to broaden the lens through which academics and students write about and study history.
“All of these things were not necessarily taught as what was ‘real history,’ ” she said. “What it does is help us much better understand ourselves — once we understand the complex ways we are created as Americans, as gendered people, as classed people, as raced people, and all those different categories are working together mutually construct the cultural world in which we live."
Despite these disciplinary advances, Morantz-Sanchez said enrollment in many of her history courses has decreased over the past 10 years.
“I think we’re a society that doesn’t believe in history anymore,” she said.
On Saturday, a program dedicated to “the people and events that document the American story,” will air the lecture of a professor hoping to do just that in her Ann Arbor classroom.
But Morantz-Sanchez, who was recruited by C-SPAN for inclusion in the program, doesn’t have any delusions about the network’s demographic reach.
“Do I think anybody will watch this C-SPAN thing? History buffs, maybe,” she said.
Morantz-Sanchez isn’t discounting the power of history, though. She’s seen its enduring weight when classes end each term and a student says: “Boy I really didn’t want to take this, but I really do understand myself better now.”