Lisa Cody Receives Ridge Award For Outstanding Historical Article

Lisa Cody, assistant professor of history, has received the prestigious Judith Lee Ridge Article Award from the Western Association of Women Historians, an association of 350 history scholars and graduate students working in the 19 Western United States and the Western Canadian provinces.

In the article, Cody analyzes the underlying social and political issues that drove the British Parliament to pass laws in the 1830s shifting the financial responsibility for out-of-wedlock children from the parish or their fathers to their mothers.

“What I sought to show,” explained Cody, “was how gender issues are embedded in political discussions, and how they can be used symbolically to talk about other sorts of social relations, such as the disparity between socioeconomic classes. Among the ironies of the time were the voicelessness of the women and children directly affected by the debate, and the fact that the person most instrumental in shaping the debate was Harriet Martineau, a female political economist and one of the harshest critics of single mothers.”

The article, taken from Cody’s forthcoming book, tentatively titled The Birth of a Nation, blends interdisciplinary research in political economy, political history, fictional literature, social history, and gender theory. “My article shows that gender and class are vital aspects of the history of politics and economics,” she said. “It represents the overall focus of my book, which studies the cultural history of medicine, looking at the replacement of midwives by obstetricians among the elite and middle classes in 18th Century Britain, as part of a broader study of emerging identities within the family and the nation.”

“As the nation’s largest regional women’s historical association, the Western Association of Women Historians is a significant arbiter of research and writing across the nation,” said David Yoo, chair of the CMC history department. “The Ridge Award is a prestigious honor, and we are proud of Lisa’s accomplishment.”

Cody, who joined CMC in 1996, received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and master’s and doctorate degrees from The University of California, Berkeley. She has most recently taught The Making of Modern Britain, and London and Paris in the 19th Century.