Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (May 28, 1941 – January 2, 2007) was a feminist (and later, antifeminist)[1] American historian particularly known for her writing about women in the Antebellum South. She was also a primary voice of the conservative women's movement.


The daughter of Cornell professor Edward Whiting Fox, a specialist in the history of modern Europe, Fox-Genovese studied at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris in France and attended Bryn Mawr College, where she received a B.A. At Harvard University, she earned a M.A. and a Ph.D. in history. After completing her PhD she taught at SUNY Binghamton and The University of Rochester. In 1986 she began teaching history at Emory University, where she was the Eleonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities and the founding director of the Institute for Women's Studies. At the Institute, she began the first doctoral program in Women's Studies in the U.S. and personally directed thirty-two doctoral dissertations. She was married to and sometimes collaborated with fellow historian and husband Eugene D. Genovese.

In 1993 Fox-Genovese and Emory University were named as co-defendants in a sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by L. Virginia Gould, one of her former graduate students. Emory settled the lawsuit out of court. Financial details were not released.[2]

In 1995, Fox-Genovese publicly converted to Roman Catholicism, due in part to the pride and self-centeredness that she said she witnessed in the secular academy.[3] Some found her reputation as a feminist as being at odds with her conversion, but she herself found it to be "wholly consistent"[4] and wrote, "Sad as it may seem, my experience with radical, upscale feminism only reinforced my growing mistrust of individual pride."[3]


Fox-Genovese's academic interests changed from French history to the history of women before the American Civil War. Virginia Shadron, assistant dean at Emory, said that Within the Plantation Household cemented the reputation of Fox-Genovese as a scholar of women in the Old South.[4]

Fox-Genovese also wrote scholarly and popular works on feminism itself. Through her writings, she alienated many feminists but attracted many woman who may have considered themselves conservative feminists. Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz said, "She probably did more for the conservative women's movement than anyone.... [Her] voice came from inside the academy and updated the ideas of the conservative women's movement. She was one of their most influential intellectual forces."[4] Fox-Genovese reportedly had no patience with the cultural feminist trend of viewing women and men as possessing completely different values, and she criticized the idea that women's natural instincts and experience of oppression gave them a superior capacity for justice and mercy.[1]


  • National Humanities Medal[4]
  • Cardinal Wright Award from the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars
  • Doctor of Letters from Millsaps College
  • C. Hugh Holman Prize from the Society for Southern Literature
  • ACLS & Ford Foundation Fellowship[5]

Selected writings

  • The Origins of Physiocracy: Economic Revolution and Social Order in Eighteenth-century France, Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1976. ISBN 978-0801410062
  • Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism with Eugene D. Genovese, New York York: Oxford University Press, 1983. ISBN 978-0195031577
  • Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South, series on Gender and American Culture, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988. ISBN 978-0807842324
  • Feminism Without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism, University of North Carolina Press, 1991. ISBN 978-0807843727
  • "Feminism Is Not the Story of My Life": How Today's Feminist Elite Has Lost Touch with the Real Concerns of Women, Anchor reprint, 1996 ISBN 978-0385467919
  • Marriage: The Dream that Refuses to Die, Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1933859620
  • The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview with Eugene D. Genovese, Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0521615624


External links

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