Senior Scholars

Senior Scholars are Institute researchers. In some cases, scholars have been part of the Institute since its earliest days.

Susan Groag Bell, photo by Jerry BauerSusan Groag Bell ( has been at the Institute since 1978. She has worked on various aspects of European women's history since her undergraduate studies at Stanford. Her first book Women from the Greeks to the French Revolution (Stanford University Press, 1972, 1983) was followed by a two volume collection entitled Women, the Family and Freedom: The Debate in Documents 1750 - 1950, (with Karen Offen, Stanford University Press, 1983). Bell has also published articles on women as book collectors, notably: Medieval Women Book Owners: Arbiters of Lay Piety and Ambassadors of Culture (1982). A Memoir, Between Worlds in Czechoslovakia, England and America (Dutton, 1991) was followed by an essay "Visiting the Place that was Home" in "Gender-Exile-Schreiben" (Wuerzburg, Germany, 2002).

Bell's main scholarly love has been the 15th and 16th century and especially that unique author Christine de Pizan about whom she has published several articles and most recently her 30-year-long study and search for The Lost Tapestries of 'The City of Ladies': Christine de Pizan's Renaissance Legacy, (University of California Press, 2004). Bell has recently published an article on "Christine de Pizan in Her Study" in the online journal Cahiers de recherché medievales (published June 10, 2008). She has given presentations on this topic to the International Christine de Pizan Colloque at the Sorbonne in Paris (2006) and to an American Historical Association conference held at Stanford also in the summer of 2006.

Edith GellesEdith Gelles ( is the author of Abigail & John: Portrait of a Marriage, published in April 2009 by HarperCollins. She recently edited and wrote an extended biographical introduction to The Letters of Abigail Levy Franks (1733-1748), published by Yale University Press in December 2004. A historian of colonial America, Gelles has written two biographies of Abigail Adams. Portia: The World of Abigail Adams (1992, paperback 1996) was co-winner of the American Historical Association's Herbert Feis Award. First Thoughts: Life and Letters of Abigail Adams (1998) was published in paperback by Routledge with the title, Abigail Adams: A Writing Life. Gelles wrote the centennial catalogue for the Libraries of Stanford University: "For Instruction and Research." She has published many articles and reviews and has taught in the Humanities as well as the Continuing Studies Programs at Stanford.

Phyllis KoestenbaumPhyllis Koestenbaum ( is currently completing a mixed-genre manuscript of essays, prose poems, lyric essays (essay-like prose poems), and very short fiction. Autobiographical material links the individual pieces in the all-prose manuscript. She is also working on a manuscript of Selected Poems, to include work from her eight published poetry books as well as new poems; and a sequence of Mistranslations, poems veritably her own, since, except for a minor knowledge of French, she does not read or speak the languages of the original texts. Koestenbaum's most recent book is Doris Day and Kitschy Melodies (2001), preceded by Criminal Sonnets (1998).

Koestenbaum's latest publication is her essay, The Secret Climate the Year I Stopped Writing, in the Summer 2007 issue of The Massachusetts Review. Other recent publications include a selection from her book oh I can't she says in an anthology of fragmentary pieces (Impassio Press, 2006); prose poems in the literary journals Court Green, Witness, and Sentence; and poems and fiction online. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council and been in residence at MacDowell, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown as a Senior Fellow, and the Djerassi Foundation. Her poems have been selected twice for the The Best American Poetry anthology. A poetry teacher for many years, she has taught in Continuing Studies at Stanford and at the 2007 Foothill College Writers Conference. She continues to teach poetry students privately.

Karen OffenKaren Offen Karen Offen (Ph.D Stanford 1971) has been affiliated with the Institute since 1977. The recepient of many fellowships and grants, including Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and NEH, she holds an honorary doctorate in humane letters from her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Idaho and was recognized by her alumni association with the Silver and Gold award for distinguished achievement. She is also listed in a number of Who's Who volumes.

The author of many works in European and comparative women's & gender history, Karen's latest book is European Feminisms, 1700-1950: A Political History (Stanford University Press, 2000). She is completing a book on the "woman question" debate in modern France and an edited volume, Global Feminisms, 1789-1945. Her landmark article, "Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach," Signs (1988), has been translated into five languages.

Among her recent publications are the following articles:

  • "Aperçus sur un siècle de féminismes," with Christine Bard & Sylvie Chaperon, in "Histoire des femmes," 3rd dossier coordinated by the Mnémosyne Association & Anne-Marie Sohn, Historiens et Géographes, no 394 (April 2006).
  • "Eruptions and Flows: Thoughts on Writing a Comparative History of European Feminisms, 1700-1950," in Comparative Women's History: New Approaches, ed. Anne Cova. (Boulder and New York: Social Science Monographs/Columbia University Press, 2006).
  • "Intrepid Crusader: Ghénia Avril de Sainte-Croix Takes on the Prostitution Issue," Proceedings of the Western Society for French History (2005 conference volume), ed. Carol Harrison et al.
  • "Le gender est-il une invention américaine?" in Clio: Histoire, Femmes et Sociétés, no. 24 (2006).
  • "How (and Why) the Analogy of Marriage with Slavery Provided the Springboard for Women's Rights Demands in France, 1640-1848," in Women's Rights and Transatlantic Antislavery in the Era of Emancipation, ed. Kathryn Kish Sklar & James Brewer Stewart. (New Haven:Yale University Press, 2007).
  • "La Aventura del sufragio femenino en el mundo," in Historia de una conquista; Clara Campoamor y el voto femenino, ed. Rosa Capel Martinez (Madrid: Ayuntamiento de Madrid, Dirección General de Igualdad de Oportunidades, 2007).
  • Review of Judith Surkis, Sexing the Citizen on H-France Forum. May 2007.
  • Review of Judith Bennett, History Matters, for the Women's Review of Books, 24:4 (July/Aug. 2007).
Karen Offen has several new published articles to report: "Thinking Historically about the International Women's Movement," special issue of Sextant (Brussels), nos. 23-24 (2007); "La Aventura del sufragio femenino en el mundo," in Historia de una conquista; Clara Campoamor y el voto femenino, ed. Rosa Capel Martinez (Madrid: Ayuntamiento de Madrid, Dirección General de Igualdad de Oportunidades, 2007); "Madame Ghénia Avril de Sainte-Croix, the Josephine Butler of France," in Women's History Review (London), 17:2 (April 2008); "Erupcoes e Fluxas: Reflexoes Sobre a Escrita de Uma Historia Comparade dos Feminismos Europeus, 1700-1950," in História comparada das mulheres: Novas Abordagens, ed. Anne Cova (Lisbon: Livros Horizonte, 2008); "¿Quién le teme a las mujeres en la política? ¿Y por qué? on CD-Rom, from the Conference XI Jornadas Nacionales de Historia de la Mujeres y IV Congresso Iberoamericano de Estudios de Género (Rosario, Argentina, August 2008); and "Feminists Campaign in "Public Space:" Civil Society, Gender Justice, and the History of European Feminisms," in Civil Society, Public Space, and Gender Justice, ed. Karen Hagemann, Sonya Michel, & Gunilla Budde (New York: Berghahn, 2008).

In addition her entries in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History (ed. Bonnie G. Smith, 2008) include "History of Women," "Ghénia Avril de Sainte-Croix," and "Ellen Key."


Her co-authored article, with Elizabeth L. Colton "The International Museum of Women," in UNESCO's Museum International, no. 236 (59:4) Dec. 2007, appeared in a special issue "Gender Perspectives on Cultural Heritage and Museums." She has published a long review, "Dancing with the Patriarchs," of Judith Bennett, History Matters, in the Women's Review of Books, 24:4 (July/Aug. 2007); a long review of Judith Surkis, Sexing the Citizen on the internet site H-France Forum (May 2007); and has a review forthcoming in MS. Magazine's fall issue of Marilyn French's four-volume epic, From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in the World (Feminist Press, 2008).

Karen Offen is a founder and past secretary-treasurer of the International Federation for Research in Women's History. She is past president of the Western Association of Women Historians (USA) and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Museum of Women (San Francisco).

Further information is available on Karen's website at She can be contacted at kmoffen AT Karen also writes a blog for the International Museum of Women, "Clio Talks Back"

Elizabeth Roden (playwright/screenwriter) ( writes biographical plays that center on the experience of historical and contemporary women at critical periods in their lives. Recently she explored issues of power and sexuality in the later life of Sarah Bernhardt. The play, the tenth in Roden's biographical series, is called "Lovers and Tribes: Bernhardt on Belle Isle" and will be produced in Ashland, Oregon. Her research into the mores and the sub-culture of aging men and women has been of assistance in recrafting an earlier play which she called "Slab City/ Sun City." This social comedy contrasts a group of retired women, who have formed a unique community in the Anza-Borrega desert with their more affluent peers in enclaves like "Sun City" in Arizona. These villages and cities, composed entirely of the elderly are a phenomenon of our time and deserve dramatic commentary. During the last ten years Roden has written three plays about Dorothea Lange, the only woman photojournalist on the staff of the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. Her first screen play "Dorothea Lange: The Eloquent Witness" (written with Steven Cohen ) is now completed and under option. Dorothea Lange was able, through her pictures, such as the award-winning "Migrant Mother" published in 1936, to put a human face on the real life of the migratory workers and changed forever the way Americans viewed the Depression Era.

Marilyn YalomMarilyn Yalom ( has an extensive list of scholarly publications, including Blood Sisters (1993), Birth of the Chess Queen (2004), A History of the Wife (2001), Inside the American Couple (with Laura Carstensen) (2002), and program notes for Poulenc's "Dialogues des Carmelites" by the New York City Opera Company. In April, 2007 Marilyn Yalom spoke in Athens on her book, "A History of the Breast" (Knopf, 1997), recently translated into Greek as the fifteenth translation of this work.

Her most recent book, The American Resting Place was published by Houghton Mifflin in May 2008. In addition to her text, it contains a portfolio of 64 black and white art photos taken by her son Reid.

Yalom’s literary work recently received recognition from a representative of the California State Assembly. Yalom was presented with a Certificate of Recognition “honoring extraordinary leadership in the literary arts and continued commitment to ensuring the quality of reading” through her book The American Resting Place: Four Hundred Years of History, “thereby benefiting the people of the City and County of San Francisco and the State of California.”



The recommended method for contacting Scholars is their email address; otherwise, a message maybe left on the Institute's general voicemail at (650) 723-1994.

The Knowledge Revolution A conference celebrating the Institute's 30th Anniversary. Presented by current and former scholars of the Institute, this conference explored how 30 years of feminist scholarship has changed the nature of knowledge in many disciplines.

Past Institute Affiliated Scholars