Natalie Zemon Davis (1971-1978)

I rejoice in two memories of my time in the History Department at Berkeley in the 1970s.  The first was the wonderful intellectual exchange I had with my colleagues in early modern history. Bill Bouwsma and Gene Brucker were as welcoming as could be, and we talked often of themes of shared interest. The same was true of Dick Herr and of Randy Starn, when he joined the department. They put no obstacles in my way in regard to my courses in the history of women and gender and did not discourage my interests in anthropology and literature or my contacts with colleagues in these fields.

The second happy memory concerns the pleasure of friendship with Lynn Hunt and Paula Fass, when they joined the department. I had worked for them to come and their presence made a huge difference in the character of the department. Along this line—though going beyond the department itself—was the intellectual delight and social connectedness that came from my teaching of my course on Society and the Sexes in Early Modern Europe.    Enduring connections developed with undergraduate and graduate students, some of whom went on to do their dissertations on the subject in early modern and American history. At least some of my male colleagues in the department approved, a few did not—but I paid them no mind.  

For me, the department and Berkeley more generally at that period were places for discovery and expansion of interest: my turn to film and its use for historical expression started at UCB. I first got the idea of working on Martin Guerre in the course of graduate seminar.


Natalie Zemon Davis teaching