American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Despina Lalaki, M. Alison Frantz Fellow, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
The paper explores the ways in which women contributed to the postwar American cultural offensive. Based on two case studies and expanding on a modestly growing literature on the subject, the presentation seeks to better understand the ways and the terms in which women contributed to the post-war American cultural wars.
Embedded in trans-Atlantic networks of cultural and social elites, which carried out the cultural wars of the time, women did not merely perform clerical work occupying the “front stage,” in Goffman’s terms.Middle and upper-middle class highly educated women like the two in discussion – the American archaeologist Alison Frantz and Ekaterini Myrivili, a Greek upper lever cultural administrator – were directly involved in the development and management of programs and institutions – the Fulbright and the Ford Foundations in this case – with long-lasting effects.
The paper capitalizes on the rich archival materials available at the Gennadius Library and the Archives of the American School and focuses on the work of Alison Frantz and Ekaterini Myrivili not in order to trace any gender-specific ways in their influential careers but to stress, depending on their professional and personal trajectories, the ways in which they swayed and directed the institutions and programs they built. By way of doing so the paper challenges the patriarchal portrait of the cultural cold warrior and puts The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills under a new light.