At the time of her death on 2 January 2007, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese ranked as one of the nation’s most important and influential scholars and public intellectuals. As the Eleonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities and the founding director of the Institute for Women’s Studies at Emory University, the first Ph.D. granting program in Women’s Studies in the United States, Fox-Genovese–Betsey as most called her–taught and mentored students in an astonishing range of disciplines: history, comparative literature, Women’s Studies, and English. Her scholarship also reflected this remarkable breadth. Her major books examined such diverse topics as the Physiocrats of eighteenth-century France (The Origins of Physiocracy ); black and white women of the Old South (Within the Plantation Household ); contemporary feminism (Feminism Without Illusions ) and Feminism is Not the Story of My Life ); and the place of marriage in historical and contemporary settings (Marriage: The Dream that Refuses to Die ). With her husband, the distinguished historian Eugene D. Genovese, she wrote several volumes that are indispensable for understanding the slave society of the Old South (Fruits of Merchant Capital ; The Mind of the Master Class ; Slavery in White and Black ).
These books, profound and influential as they are, represent but a fraction of Fox-Genovese’s scholarly output. She wrote scores of articles and essays that demonstrated both her scholarly brilliance and her deep engagement with and concern for American culture and society. Under the general editorship of David Moltke-Hansen, the University of South Carolina Press has begun publishing a five-volume series, History and Women, Culture and Faith: Selected Writings of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, that brings together eighty of Fox-Genovese’s articles and essays. The series will consist of five volumes: Volume I, Women Past and Present, and Volume 2, Ghosts and Memories: White and Black Southern Women’s Lives and Writings, have just been published. Volume 3, Intersections: History, Culture, Ideology, and Volume 4, Explorations and Commitments: Religion, Faith, and Culture, will appear later this year. Volume 5, Unbought Grace: An Elizabeth Fox-Genovese Reader, which will feature selected pieces from the other four volumes as well as a series of remembrances by scholars influenced by Betsey’s life and work.
The AHI is especially proud of its role in this impressive and important publishing event. AHI fellow Sheila O’Connor-Ambrose, who completed her Ph.D. with Fox-Genovese, co-edited Volume 4, and AHI founder and charter fellow Robert Paquette, who also studied with her, co-edited Volume 5. Both O’Connor-Ambrose and Paquette were dear friends of Betsey’s, and their efforts on this project were very much labors of love. Betsey’s death robbed us of a prolific and brilliant scholar, a compassionate and forceful advocate of Truth, and a loyal and generous friend. These volumes are an invaluable collection and a fitting tribute to her enduring legacy in American life and letters.
For more information on the series and the individual volumes, see the website of the University of South Carolina Press here.