Mary C. Kelley
University of Michigan
Historian; Professional association administrator; Educator
Humanities and Arts
Key figure in the burgeoning history of the book. Turning an exercise in traditional literary history into an inquiry into the long-neglected intellectual history of women, merges the social history of publishing, the design and craft of book-making, and the psychology of reading practice into an interdisciplinary and freshly productive mode of comprehending the role of literature in shaping civil life. Work significantly contributes to the history of education: the women she rescued from near oblivion were often teachers or students in the women's academies of the early republic. Their history not only provides a fresh understanding of the dynamics of those institutions, it illustrates women's role in shaping civil society. Coeditor of An Extensive Republic: Print, Culture and Society in the New Nation (2010), a survey in a five volume series where the creative contribution of its editors in the selection of authors, the shaping of subjects and the strength of the prose is particularly evident and effective. This collaborative enterprise captures her interests and her commitment to the life and development of nurturing communities. The Society of Historians of the Early American Republic has established the Mary Kelley Prize for the best book published annually in in the history of women, gender, and sexuality.