Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Kirsten Swinth
Associate Professor of History, Chair of History Department
Office Location: Dealy Hall 612
Phone: (718) 817-3995

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courses | Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

My research interests center on the social and cultural history of the U.S. since World War II, but I have also written on the Gilded Age and Progressive Eras.  My focus is the intersections among gender, cultural, and labor and economic history.  I have a strong background in U.S. visual and popular culture as well, and have recently been teaching the history of American photography.  My training is in American Studies and I rely on an interdisciplinary approach in my work. 

I am currently at work on The Rise of the Working Family: The Reshaping of Care and Competition in Postindustrial America.  This book traces the rise of the working family in the second half of the twentieth century.  The Rise of the Working Family thus reshapes historians’ understandings of postwar American history by providing an integrated narrative of two of the most fundamental historical changes of the last fifty years—simultaneous gender and economic revolutions. 

The key to unlocking the rise of the working family is the working mother.  Historians understand the unskilled male industrial worker to be the emblem of industrial capitalism; they have yet to understand how the working mother is the emblem of the postindustrial order.  With the new service economy, working mothers moved front and center.  They dominated popular conceptions of the labor force and occupied growing sectors of the economy, particularly the expanding “care” sector.  I show the roots of—and cultural politics behind—many common catchphrases for the nation’s new social and economic reality: supermom, second shift, the balancing act, juggling, mommy wars, and mommy track.

My earlier scholarship explored gender, culture, and labor in the art world at the turn of the century.  In Painting Professionals: Women Artists and the Development of Modern American Art, 1870-1930 (2001), I traced the careers of two generations of American women artists who flooded the art world starting in the 1870s.  I explored the significance of culture to social reform with an edited document collection, “How Did Settlement Workers at Greenwich House Promote the Arts as Integral to a Shared Social Life?,” for Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (2006). 

My work has been featured on, The Christian Science Monitor, the Huffington Post, and on public radio’s “To the Point.”  I lecture regularly on the women’s movement, postwar America, and the Gilded Age and Progressive Eras. 

Current Courses

Current courses include undergraduate classes on the U.S. since 1945, the history of American photography, modern U.S. women’s history, a research seminar on the 1970s as a revolutionary decade, and Major Developments in American Culture.  I have also taught for the American Studies and Women’s Studies programs.  At the graduate level, I have most recently taught U.S. social and cultural history since 1877, U.S. social and cultural history since 1945, and U.S. gender history.

Awards & Honors

I am a past the past winner of an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, a John Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship in Art and the Humanities and a Fulbright Fellowship to Mozambique.  I have received numerous other awards in my career, including the Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and a Truman Scholarship. 

At Fordham, I am currently chair of the Department of History and served as director of the American Studies program, 2002-2007.

I earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1995 and a B.A. from Stanford University for an individually designed major, “Modernism & Culture,” in 1986.


Information on the Progressive Era traveling exhibition at:

Painting Professionals: Women Artists and the Development of Modern American Art, 1870-1930 (University of North Carolina Press, 2001) 

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