Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth 1941-2007 (Elizabeth Ann Fox)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth 1941-2007 (Elizabeth Ann Fox)

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born May 28, 1941, in Boston, MA; died January 2, 2007, in Atlanta, GA. Historian, educator, and author. Fox-Genovese was a scholar of French history who also wrote on feminism and became a controversial figure when her views on the subject shifted to the right. The daughter of historian Edward Whiting Fox, she graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1963 with a B.A. in history and French. For graduate studies, she went to Harvard, earning a master's in 1966 and a doctorate in 1974. While still in graduate school, Fox-Genovese, who married historian Eugene Dominick Genovese, worked as a researcher for publishers Houghton Mifflin and Prentice-Hall. In 1973, she joined the University of Rochester faculty and was promoted to associate professor of history in 1976. During the early 1980s, she was a history professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton; she joined the Emory University faculty in 1986. While her background was in French history and her first book was The Origins of Physiocracy: Economic Revolution and Social Order in Eighteenth-Century France (1976), Fox-Genovese actually gained attention early on for her books on American slavery. The Civil War and slavery were her husband's specialties, and together they wrote Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism (1983). She also wrote Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South (1988) and To Be Worthy of God's Favor: Southern Women's Defense and Critique of Slavery (1993) as a solo works. The historian made waves in 1991, though, when she wrote about feminism in Feminism without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism. Here she notoriously criticized other feminists for defining their cause in terms of middle-class, white women's values. Initially approaching feminism from a Marxist perspective, Fox-Genovese was a leftist thinker, even cofounding the Marxist Perspectives journal with her husband in 1969. Later, however, her ideals became much more conservative. She admitted to this, attributing her change of perspective in part to her conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1995. Even before this, she made the news in 1993 when one of her graduate students accused her of sexual discrimination; the suit was settled out of court in 1996. After her religious conversion, she released Feminism Is Not the Story of My Life: How Today's Feminist Elite Has Lost Touch with the Real Concerns of Women (1996) and Women and the Future of the Family (2000). In such works, she reversed many of her previous views, including coming out against abortion. Fox-Genovese continued to teach at Emory, meanwhile, serving as director of women's studies from 1986 to 1991 and as Eleanor Raoul Professor of the Humanities from 1988 until her death. Her last years were plagued by advancing symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Fox-Genovese was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2003. Her last book was The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview (2005), which was another collaboration with her husband.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

New York Times, January 7, 2007, p. A21.