By Ashley Achee '16Staff Writer
This past week, I interviewed Dr. Lisa Cody of the CMC History Department. As a specialist in early British history with emphasis on gender and feminist issues, she was a unique addition to the history department at Claremont McKenna in 1996. Sitting down in the Kravis Center with Professor Cody felt very much like sitting down with a friend. She was very open and talkative about the different projects she is working on, her opinions as a feminist, and why she chose history.
Q: Why did you decide to study history? A: Well, I was actually pre-med when I entered college. I knew that I didn’t want to be a physics major, but I didn’t want to be a history major either. I took a class called “London, Paris, and the Nineteenth Century” and it totally changed my mind. Q: Do you have a favorite period in history? A: I have a favorite year! 1760! It was the year an important book about midwifery was published. In general, I love the 1760s, though. Q: Do you identify as a feminist? A: Absolutely! I remember writing diary entries when I was in third grade about women’s equality. Q: That’s terrific! What made you so passionate at such a young age? A: I had watched this show on PBS, actually, with my family, called “Shoulder to Shoulder” about the British Suffrage movement. And I remember that it raised a lot of gender and equality issues that really had an impact on me making me think how much women had to fight for very basic civil and political rights and it had actually occurred in my grandmothers’ lifetimes. Q: Tell me about what it was like to write a book. A: It was definitely a busy time. I was pregnant through much of the process, but I was lucky that my husband was able to really raise the children while I was writing and doing research. [“Birthing a Nation”, Dr. Cody’s first book, was published in 2005.] Q: What are you working on now? A: I don’t want to give too much away, but I am currently writing a book about eighteenth-century marriages. I’ve been examining over 2,000 court cases, which is a lot to sort through. Essentially, it focuses on how women found power and influence under patriarchy. Q: Are you happy at CMC? A: It’s the best place to be an eighteenth-century British historian because of the nearby Huntington Library. There are so many resources available at the colleges. Also, the students are incredibly engaged and passionate and my colleagues are terrific.
Dr. Cody currently teaches several history classes at CMC in addition to her research for her upcoming book. Her class Gender and Revolution: Europe from 1500-1900 covers topics ranging from gender bending in early Europe to feminism in the early twentieth century. On Oct. 17, she will be screening “Dangerous Liaisons” with the CMC history department. The event is free and open to anyone with an interest in history and a love of films.