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Academic Seminars


The Rise and Fall of the Wicked Stepmother?:
Rethinking the Early American Family


Lisa Wilson

(AAS-NEH Long-term Fellow and Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of American History Connecticut College)

Tuessday, April 5, 2011, at 5:00 p.m.
Wood Hall Basement Lounge
University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

Précis: The wicked stepmother followed the British colonist across the Atlantic. She had ancient roots but expanded her repertoire of cruelty as the eighteenth century progressed on both sides of the Atlantic. As mothers became characterized as loving and attentive, emotional abuse and neglect became the purview of stepmothers. In the nineteenth-century, as the middle class comforted itself with domesticity, stepmothers received a different kind of cultural attention. They became a project for some social reformers. Evil stepmothers now could become good.


Directions: Please be advised that all arrivals before 5:00 must park in either the North or South Parking Garages, for which there is a nominal fee. At 5:00 all parking along Glenbrook Road becomes free to the public. Once inside Wood Hall take the stairs to the basement level. The Lounge is located at the end closest to Storrs Hall.

Afterwards, there will be a dutch-treat dinner at a nearby restaurant. If you wish to attend the dinner please return the bottom of this form to Nancy Comarella at the University of Connecticut, Department of History, Wood Hall, Unit 2103 241 Glenbrook Road, Storrs, CT 06269 (or e-mail nancy.comarella[at] by April 4.