Women's History Seminars

Miss America's Politics

Beauty and the Development of the New Right Since 1968
Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Micki McElya, Associate Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Commentator: Genevieve Clutario, Assistant Professor of History and History & Literature, Harvard University


Drawn from McElya’s larger book project, this session examines the centrality of the Miss America pageant, its local networks, and individual contestants to the rise of activist conservative women and the New Right in the 1960s and 1970s. It analyzes the celebration, power, and political effects of normative beauty, steeped in heterosexual gender norms and white supremacy, and argues for the transformative effect of putting diverse women’s voices at the center of political history and inquiry.


The Boston Seminar Series on the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality—cosponsored by the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study—offers scholars and students an opportunity to discuss new research on any aspect of the history of women and gender in the United States, without chronological limitation.

The seminar series includes four meetings that will take place during the 2016–2017 academic year, each revolving around the discussion of a precirculated paper. 

Registration for the series is required.

Registered participants may access the papers online at the Massachusetts Historical Society website.

For more information, please call 617-495-8647 or e-mail seminars@masshist.org.