Syracuse professor has impersonated women’s movement leaders for 38 yearsHistorians in the News
tags: women history, Womens History Month
Sally Roesch Wagner has been arrested twice for civil disobedience while dressed up as suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage.
Once, demonstrating at the Seneca Army Depot to protest the sending of missiles to Europe, as a “birthing gift” to her grandson. The next time, at the Nevada Test Site because they were testing nuclear weapons on Native American land. Both charges were dropped, ultimately.
Wagner, a Syracuse University adjunct professor at the Reneé Crown Honors Program, has been impersonating women’s movement leaders for 38 years. She started with Gage — Wagner’s historical hero and a suffragist from Fayetteville, New York, who was largely written out of history — and 10 years later, she took on Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She has performed for a variety of audiences including kindergartners, the Nebraska and Missouri legislatures and Stanton’s great-granddaughter. Wagner has been involved in feminism and activism since her college days.
Wagner’s first time pretending to be Gage was when she was working on her doctoral dissertation — as a holder of a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology, she wanted to be able to walk around in Gage’s skin and better understand what made her tick.
“Sometimes what people are doing looks nuts from the outside, but it may make a lot of internal sense,” Wagner said. ...