Cynthia Russett, Historian of Women, Dies at 76

tags: obituaries, historians




Cynthia Eagle Russett, a historian whose best-known book explored attempts by Victorian thinkers to scientifically “prove” women’s inferiority, died on Dec. 5 in New Haven. She was 76.

The cause was multiple myeloma, according to Yale University, where she was the Larnard professor of history.

A historian of 19th- and 20th-century intellectual life, Professor Russett attracted wide attention with her book “Sexual Science: The Victorian Construction of Womanhood,” published by Harvard University Press in 1989. The book examined the effect that the era’s newfound scientific knowledge had on the larger society, particularly where questions of sexual parity were concerned.

At a time when first-wave feminism was starting to roil the status quo, male thinkers, Professor Russett showed, strove to uphold it by invoking science to argue for women’s innate inadequacy....




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