Clarissa W. Atkinson

Clarissa Atkinson

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In an earlier life, I taught and wrote books and articles about medieval history, including The Oldest Vocation: Christian Motherhood in the Middle Ages and Mystic and Pilgrim: The Book and the World of Margery Kempe. (You can find my books on Alibris, AbeBooks, and Amazon and discuss them on Goodreads.)

More recently—in the early 2000s—I turned my attention to the 1950s and found Claudia Cumberbatch Jones, the black radical feminist who was deported from the U.S. in the McCarthy years. In London she founded and edited the West Indian Gazette. I published an essay about her in the Women’s Review of Books in 2006: “A Strange and Terrible Sight in Our Country.”

In 2008-2009 I was a Fellow at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University conducting further research on Claudia Jones in the company of several other students of “The Long Civil Rights Movement” – the theme for that year. I presented a paper on “’You Dare Not Assert that Negro Women Can Think and Write and Speak!’ Claudia Jones on Race and Racism, 1936-1955,” resulting in the paper posted here: “A Pride in Being West Indian”: Claudia Jones and the West Indian Gazette. (Here are the papers and posts I’ve published related to the life, work, and legacy of Claudia Jones, with suggestions for further reading: On Claudia Jones.)

Smith College Class of 1954

Smith ’54

Lately I’ve also been thinking and writing here about coming of age in the 1950s.

My published work includes:

“Fashioning a Conscience”
A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman By Alice Kessler-Harris (Women’s Review of Books, July/August 2012: print only)

“Total Optimism Reigned”
Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford Edited by Peter Y. Sussman (Women’s Review of Books, July/August 2007)

Women's Review of Books Sept/Oct 2006A Strange and Terrible Sight in Our Country
(Women’s Review of Books, Vol. 23, Issue 5, September/October 2006)

The Child in Christian Thought“Authority, Virtue, and Vocation: The Implications of Gender in Two Twelfth-Century English Lives” in Religion, Text, and Society in Medieval Spain and Northern Europe: Essays in Honor of J.N. Hillgarth (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2002)

“‘Wonderful Affection’: 17th-Century Missionaries to New France on Children and Childhood” on the Jesuits, the Huron, and corporal punishment in The Child in Christian Thought, Editor Marcia J. Bunge (Eerdman’s, 2001)

The Oldest Vocation: Christian Motherhood in the Middle AgesThe Oldest Vocation: Christian Motherhood in the Middle Ages (Cornell University Press, 1991) [Also: ACLS Humanities E-Book online edition]

“The Modesty of the Elephant: Marriage, Families, and Holiness in the 16th Century” (Reflections: Yale Divinity School, 1991)

Shaping New Vision: Gender and Values in American Culture (Studies in Religion), Co-Editor with Margaret Miles and Constance Buchanan (Umi Research Press, 1987)

Immaculate and PowerfulImmaculate and Powerful: The Female in Sacred Image and Social Reality (The Harvard Women’s Studies in Religion Program), Co-Editor with Margaret Miles and Constance Buchanan (Aquarian Press, 1985)

Mystic and Pilgrim: Mystic and Pilgrim: The Book and the World of Margery Kempe (Cornell University Press, 1983) (also: ACLS Humanities E-Book online edition)

“American Families and ‘The American Family’: Myths and Realities,” (Harvard Divinity Bulletin XII, 1981-82)

My experience as a graduate student in the 1970s studying Margery Kempe.