Joan Wallach Scott biography:
Joan Wallach Scott is Professor Emerita at the Institute for Advanced Study. Scott received her B.A. from Brandeis University in 1962, and her M.S. in 1964 and Ph.D. in 1969 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Through her work, Scott has challenged and expanded the very conventions and practices of historical inquiry, investigating the question of difference in history and introducing new approaches to history, particularly in terms of gender. Her 1986 article “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” published in the American Historical Review, remains a central text to critical analysis. Scott has received numerous awards and honors, including being named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2017, as well as honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh (2018), Université du Québec à Montréal (2013), Harvard University (2007), and Brown University (1992). Select works include Gender and the Politics of History (1988), Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (1996), The Fantasy of Feminist History (2011), and On the Judgment of History (2020).
Tortorice: Testing. One, two, three. Testing, one, two, three. Testing, one, two, three. Yeah.
Scott: Can you see it? Is that what it is?
Tortorice: Yeah. You can see that it’s working.
Scott: On the screen?
Tortorice: Yes. Right. Well, it’s November 5, 2019. And I’m here in New York City with Professor Joan Scott. Joan, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with Mosse Oral History Project.
Scott: It’s a great pleasure. I love talking about George. (laughter)
Tortorice: Thank you. So, Joan, where were you born? Here in New York City?
Tortorice: In Brooklyn, okay. And your family?
Scott: My parents were high school history teachers. I have a sister who lives in Florida, [unclear]. We’re two years apart. So we grew up in this household of teachers, where there was a lot of dinner table conversation about history and about politics. My father was fired from his job as a teacher in 1953 for refusing to participate in what were in effect McCarthy hearings. It was a different committee. It was a New York state committee, but it was the same kind of thing. And that was, I graduated from high school in 1958. So the 50s were my childhood.
Tortorice: Were your parents politically active?
Tortorice: But they weren’t affiliated with any specific socialist, communist—
Scott: Well, I don’t know. My father was accused of being a communist. And to his dying day, he would never say whether or not he was. Because he always felt, he said to me when I asked him very late in life, he was 91 when he died. I said, “Well, were you a communist?”
He said, “I didn’t tell those committees. And I don’t see why I should tell you.” (laughter)
Tortorice: It reminds me of Gerda Lerner (1920-2013). And she was very hesitant to talk about that because of what she experienced.
Scott: It’s the same thing. It’s that generation.
Tortorice: Yeah. I mean, the repression was enormous. Well, I think I mentioned that George had a similar experience. He was in a Marxist reading group at Harvard with Dirk [Jan] Struik (1894-2000), who was—
Scott: Oh. Who was fired.
Tortorice: Yes. And I think he was a physicist [mathematician] at MIT. George was part of this group. And he was fingered to HUAC by Daniel Boorstin (1914-2004).
Scott: I had no idea. He never told us any of that, no.
Tortorice: He never, no? He never did. And he wouldn’t put it in his memoir.
Scott: No, it’s not in his memoir, because I read his memoir.
Tortorice: I think it still was such a traumatic experience for him. I don’t know if he wanted to go into it. I of course told him, you should put it in your memoir. He had to get all these letters saying—
Scott: That he wasn’t a communist.
Tortorice: Right, right.
Scott: Just an intellectual.
Tortorice: Yes. And then he had worked for Henry Wallace (1888-1965). He was in Iowa, of course, in those years. And I think Wallace wasn’t from Iowa.
Scott: He was definitely from the Midwest. Yeah, I mean, my parents were very, that was the first political campaign I remember is going out to Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn and there was a big rally for Henry Wallace, who was the ALP, the American Labor Party. And hearing Wallace speak as the presidential candidate. Yeah.
Tortorice: Interesting. So George was out there in Iowa doing his part. And I think that was part of this—
Scott: Attempt to get him.
Tortorice: Yes. And he was very, I think he was very attracted to Marxism when he was a young man. He had, actually I think it was he was in love with a man who was a very committed Marxist. And I think that really pulled George into it. And he actually went and worked with this fellow in Detroit, organizing workers and this kind of thing.
Scott: This is history he never told us. Wow.
Tortorice: Yes. He didn’t talk about all of that. And then shortly before George passed, he reached out to this guy who George said, one of the most brilliant people I knew. And he suffered from the McCarthy period.
Tortorice: And he ended up being a high school teacher.
Scott: In Detroit?
Tortorice: In Detroit. And then he moved to San Francisco. He lived in San Francisco. And he and George were going to get together.
Tortorice: Yeah, then at the end, George—
Scott: He was too sick.
Tortorice: He was too sick and he couldn’t do it. But I thought that would have been—
Scott: Oh, that would have been an amazing reunion.
Tortorice: Yes. Yeah. Then to talk about George’s penchant for falling in love with straight men. (laughs) We probably won’t go into that.
Scott: I’ll tell you stories later on about that. (laughter)
Scott: But never acting on it, right?
Tortorice: Not in a direct way. I think he did have experiences. But not—
Scott: But nothing that he, because whenever he lectured to us about Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, we all knew, or speculated if we didn’t know, that it was about him. Those were such passionate lectures. The one about Death in Venice. The sort of desire of the guy watching the young man on the beach. That’s what it is, right?
Tortorice: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Scott: I just remember all of us sitting in the lecture, because it was, George was always, he was a wonderful lecturer, and he was funny. But this one had a kind of intensity about it that was very moving in a way that a lot of his lecturers weren’t. I mean, his lectures were fine, they could be funny, he would make all these side comments and cracks about things. Because I was a TA for him.
Tortorice: Oh, you were? Yes, I wanted to ask you about that. But I guess we’ll get to that as we get to your Wisconsin years. So you were at Brandeis from 58 to 62.
Tortorice: And why did you decide to attend Brandeis? Did you feel a certain Jewish identity?
Scott: Absolutely not.
Tortorice: I didn’t think you had.
Scott: This is the story of my life. I’m sort of making decisions that are not really decisions. I decided, I was in a very competitive high school in Brooklyn. And every kid, people would jockey for one point higher on grades because everyone wanted to go to the same college. And so I said I wasn’t applying to out of town colleges. I would just go to Brooklyn College. And my parents thought that was a mistake. And then one day, the grade advisor in my high school called my father and said, you know, “Her grades are this. She should go to an out of town college.”
And so then the question was, where? And I thought okay, places, one, that my parents could afford. Because my father, having been fired, had jobs but they were not in a position—of course, college didn’t cost what it costs now—but still, they weren’t in a position to pay a college tuition. And so I think I applied to Antioch and to Brandeis, knowing nothing about either one. I had no idea the history of Brandeis, that it was founded in 1948 at the same moment as the state of Israel. That it was a Jewish school. I didn’t object to that, but I had no sense that that was what—
Similarly, when I went to Madison, I sort of, everybody else I knew was going to Harvard and these places. Again, I wanted to get one, I wanted to get as far away from Brandeis as possible. I didn’t want to be in the world of sort of Jewish intellectual. So Wisconsin, Madison, seemed the land of the goyim, as George used to call it.
Tortorice: (laughter) Little did you know.
Scott: I get there, and the first people I meet are people I went to summer camp with. The children of fired communists, you know, blah, blah. It was like, how did I get here? So there was a certain kind of passivity about the way I went about making these choices.
And when I got into both Brandeis and Antioch, I thought Brandeis was closer to home. And I was a real sort of homebody. And so that’s why I went to Brandeis. That, I didn’t know that Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was there. It was actually a terrific place to be and to get a really good education. But the Jewish part of it was the farthest thing from my mind when I applied.
Tortorice: So did you take any courses from Marcuse?
Scott: Mm hmm.
Tortorice: You did.
Scott: Oh, yeah. Hegel. Hegel and Marx. I mean, yes, I definitely too Marcuse’s course. I took a course with Frank Manuel (1910-2003), which is what made me a historian. I mean, Frank Manuel, those, the lectures he gave, and it was western civ. We didn’t have global or world history in those days. He taught the second half of the western civ course. And I was hooked. He was so exciting and so interesting. Then I took other courses with him as well.
Tortorice: Did you stay in touch with him after—
Scott: No. I was shy. I was politically very active on campus. And my one wonderful Marcuse story is, I think it was at the time, it probably wasn’t the Bay of Pigs. It was Berlin. It was 61-62, whenever one of those was. And it was this big thing. And Marcuse came running up to me and handed me a twenty-dollar bill and said, “Go organize something.”
Scott: (laughs) Because he knew I was one of the campus sort of political organizing people. Yeah. (laughter) That was as much of a contact that I had. I was just in awe. And we used the money for posters. You know, we did posters and all that kind of stuff.
Tortorice: Oh, my god. That’s—
Tortorice: So what was it like to be a woman student there? Did you feel—
Scott: It was fine.
Tortorice: It was fine.
Scott: Yeah. I mean, it really was. Probably looking back, I could imagine things. But I think the women students were treated pretty much the same as the men. We were good students. So that wasn’t, it really didn’t feel like it was an issue at all.
Tortorice: Did you have women professors?
Tortorice: There weren’t at that point?
Scott: There was one, Kathleen Gough (1925-1990), who was an anthropologist, who I knew but didn’t have. No, but there weren’t any. And I think that was before the sort of consciousness-raising of feminism. I sort of came through in my family Marxism and socialism, not feminism. And I got there in 58 to 62. It was civil rights stuff. It was anti-nuclear testing. It wasn’t until I got to Wisconsin and until the feminist movement began to sort of articulate itself that there was any consciousness of the fact that I hadn’t had any women professors. I mean, I think I always imagined myself a professor. Not quite with a pipe, but in my fantasy was sort of a tweed jacket like George, you know. A tweed jacket. Yeah, it was this, but I never, I was not conscious of it in the way that the women’s movement made it a conscious kind of issue.
Tortorice: So you arrived in Madison in the fall of 62. And that was about the time of the freedom rides. So your consciousness as a woman historian, a woman academic, developed at UW? It started?
Scott: In really interesting ways. And George was part of that. One of the things that happened, it must be my second, my first year I had my fellowship. Then I was a TA, and I was George’s TA. And I walked into class in Bascom Hall and I was his TA. And he said, “Miss Wallach don’t you know that Luther said—What are you doing here?” he said. “Don’t you know that Luther said, ‘Women belong at home?’ Kinder, Küche, Kirche.” (laughter) And I was furious!
Tortorice: I bet. He was testing you.
Scott: And he was also teasing me.
Tortorice: He loved to tease.
Scott: One of the things I say now in retrospect is that what he taught me was how to sort of take a joke. And how to turn anger into jokes. But that day, I refused to talk to him. I stayed in the class but he asked me to come to his office about something. I stormed out of his office. You know. (laughs)
Tortorice: Did he ignore your anger completely?
Scott: Yes. Yep.
Tortorice: Yes, he would.
Scott: He just didn’t pay any attention.
Tortorice: Yeah. He registered it, probably.
Scott: Oh, yeah.
Tortorice: But he didn’t want to deal with you on that question.
Scott: Yeah. No, no, no. And then there were other ways, in the behavior of many of the other women. Because there still wasn’t a women’s movement in 62-63. That was, as you said, Vietnam and freedom rides. And one of the things that struck me was that there were so many, there were women in the graduate program, but not many. And most of them were anxious about their abnormality. And I never felt anxious about that. I grew up feeling like I had to demonstrate how smart I was, because that was what my parents rewarded and that was what school rewarded. So it was always puzzling to me that they were kind of diminishing or underplaying their own intelligence because they didn’t want to look smarter than the guys that they were dating.
And one of the interesting things, the very first thing that happened, actually, was when you got to Madison in those days, you were interviewed by the chair of the department. And Merrill Jensen (1905-1980) was the chair of the department. So I went into Merrill Jensen’s office and he was known, I later learned, for not thinking that women should not be in graduate school, and that women in a seminar would destroy the camaraderie of the men. And he sort of looked at me and he said, “What are you interested in?” And again, in those days, you didn’t have a plan. And most people I knew, they, American, European. But nobody—now, graduate students will come and say, “I want to study this. Will you work with me on that?” It’s so much more professionalized in advance.
Tortorice: And how much money can you give me? (laughs) That’s the other question.
Scott: Right. But it wasn’t like that then. So Merrill Jensen said to me, “Well, what do you want to study?” And I said history. And he rolled his eyes. And he said, “What languages do you have?” And I said French history. And he said, French history. And I was put in Henry Hill’s (1907-1990) seminar. It was Henry Hill’s last year there. Then Harvey replaced him a year or so later. But that was sort of startling to me. And that’s how I became a French historian. I mean, I had French because I had the language. You had to have a language in high school here. In junior high and high school. And I had enough of it so that I took French at Brandeis and I did research in French history. And I always liked French history. But I could have easily been an American historian. But he was determined to keep women out of the American history seminars.
Tortorice: You know, he started this constitution project, I think, in 65, 66. And it’s still going. And it’s that kind of antiquarian history where they read everything back and forth to each other. And it’s all very precise. And you know, I think it’s valuable. But it’s been going all that time. And I think they only recently hired a woman. And it was a group of men. And they, really for fifty years—
Scott: That’s incredible.
Tortorice: I shouldn’t be talking about this, but for fifty years, they were working all together.
Scott: They continued, and they continued the tradition, his tradition.
Tortorice: Yes. In a way. And they were his students, some of them. And they kept going for many, many years as a kind of brotherhood.
Scott: The exception, yeah, the exception was Merle Curti (1897-1996). Women could always be in Merle Curti’s seminars.
Tortorice: Oh, that’s great.
Scott: He was very encouraging. He was really the avant garde of that group of American historians.
Tortorice: Yeah, he was a great human being.
Scott: He really was.
Tortorice: Yeah. I met him a few times with George. So what was Madison like during those years?
Scott: It was the political caldron of, there was Berkeley and there was Madison. And, to a lesser extent, Ann Arbor, where SDS was founded. But no, it was just a beehive of political activity. There was, as you said, there was the civil rights stuff. It was 64 that was the really dramatic moment where kids were going South. And in fact, there were these campus psychologists whose theory was that if you sent a depressed kid south, he would realize, or she would realize, that there were bigger things in life than their own sadness or their own melancholy.
And there was one guy, Chris Hexter, who was Jack Hexter’s (1910-1996) son. Jack Hexter was a historian at, I want to say Missouri, University of Missouri. He was somewhere from Missouri. And I think Hexter ended up at Yale. So here’s this son of academics. And he was really a kind of lost soul. And he went South on the freedom rides, and it did work for him.
About a year ago, I wrote something and Chris Hexter wrote me this note.
Scott: This email, you know. Because he was one of my sort of treasured students. You know, you have these students you get attached to. I was just so taken by that. I thought oh, he’s still there. And I wrote back. But then I never heard back again from him.
Tortorice: I recall the name.
Scott: Yeah. He married, somebody I think he met on the freedom rides. I don’t remember all the details. But I do remember—I mean, he might have a different story about this—but I do remember that he went South and those experiences were really formative for him.
Tortorice: I remember there was a famous psychologist there. Well, [Abraham] Maslow (1908-1970) was there, and Rogers, Carl Rogers (1902-1987).
Scott: Carl Rogers was one of them. And Carl Rogers doing sort of family stuff. There was a guy named Sey something.
Tortorice: Was it Seymour Halleck?
Scott: Yes. And Peter Weiss. They were the ones.
Tortorice: Yes. And Peter is still in Madison still.
Tortorice: Oh, yes. He’s still a presence.
Scott: He must be in his eighties.
Tortorice: Oh, yeah.
Scott: Because he was a good ten years older than I was. I’m 77. I’ll be 78 in December.
Tortorice: Uh huh. So, yeah, he’s in his late eighties.
Scott: He’s well into his eighties. Wow.
Tortorice: Still the same guy, you know. (laughs)
Scott: It would be amazing to see what he thought of that Gwen Ewen fiftieth anniversary, that panel. If you ever talk to him–
Tortorice: I will.
Scott: —get him to watch that clip of it. It’s Stuart Ewen and Gwen Ewen And when she says that thing about—(laughter) Anyway, we didn’t record that. But when she says that she shot him because of political disagreements, it’s just—
Tortorice: And not personal animosity. (laughs)
Scott: Anyway. That was quite amazing.
Tortorice: Well. Yeah.
Scott: But it was. Studies on the Left was there. I went to lots of meetings of Studies on the Left. Mifflin Street, the headquarters of everything were, I lived on Johnson Street. Right across the street from where Harvey lived, where Harvey Goldberg lived. In fact, a friend of mine and I helped find that apartment for Harvey when he came. I don’t know why. Maybe he lived somewhere else and then we found it for him. But he lived on Dayton or Johnson, Dayton Street, it was. Dayton Street that I lived on and he lived across the street. And Mifflin was one block away and over a little bit. So, everything, all the parties, all the meetings, happened on Mifflin Street.
Tortorice: I caught the tail end, the late ‘60s, of that. And it’s really hard to explain to people that weren’t there or alive during that period, what it was like. The optimism. The feeling that you could shape the future.
Tortorice: I mean, for some reason, there was this—
Scott: Enormous sense of possibility.
Tortorice: Yes. That it’s really, of course now it’s missing. I think it was such a unique period. I mean, it really–
Scott: No, I feel like I lived in a bubble. The sort of 60s, 70s, 80s. And now it’s very hard to, you’re right. It’s very hard to communicate. Because it was communal living, but it wasn’t really communal. I mean, we didn’t all, we had roommates, the way you do in graduate school. But it wasn’t like we were all living together in a coop. But life was like that. And the 602 Club was the other hangout for Studies on the Left people. And the Green Door next door where they showed movies. Was that still there when you—
Tortorice: Yes, yes, no, it’s not. Well, I remember that, and the Groves Coop.
Scott: When you were there, yeah.
Tortorice: And yeah, that’s no longer there. But I do remember that. Yes. There were a number of places like that, that were very alternative.
Scott: Yeah. Yeah.
Tortorice: Yeah, it was a unique experience.
Scott: It was. And, you know, in the courses, that was also, William Appleman Williams (1921-1990) was doing the book that became The Empire of American whatever. I don’t remember titles.
Tortorice: The Tragedy of—
Scott: The Tragedy of American Empire. Or American Diplomacy. Yeah, so I took his course. And Bill [William] Taylor (1922-2014) came to replace probably Curti, because Curti had retired. And his course was too, so I took a lot of American history, as well as European history. Harvey’s courses, George’s courses. I was in Harvey’s seminar. Now Harvey was the opposite of George. George was generous and kind and funny, as I learned. (laughs)
Tortorice: One of the funniest people I’ve ever met.
Scott: Oh, God.
Tortorice: He had the most incredibly subversive sense of humor. He really did.
Scott: Sense of humor. And he would giggle. You know, then he would start giggling about whatever it was he’d said and it was funny. And Harvey, who was uptight and closeted in the worst sort of way. I mean, everybody. Closeted in the Eve Sedgewick way. Both of them were that way. I mean, everybody knew. (laughs) But Harvey had these horrible relationships with students. And George was so careful not to do that. He would, when I was his main TA, he would say to me, “Who is that boy with the black hair in the third row?” And they were always the most gorgeous guys. I mean, you know, Paul Breines had been his boy before. And this was a guy named Marty Gold. But he would, but I knew that I was not setting the kid up for any kind of predatory behavior. It was just this Death in Venice kind of yearning that was being expressed. And never, certainly never acted on in any way that any of us knew.
Tortorice: Well, George was a highly ethical person. He was, I mean, as a human being, incredibly ethical.
Scott: No, he was.
Tortorice: And he wouldn’t have taken advantage of that situation.
Tortorice: But I think he also lived as he said a kind of rich fantasy life. In Madison, he had other outlets. But in Madison, he was wise enough not to do what Harvey did.
Scott: Yeah. What Harvey did. It was terrible.
Tortorice: It was tragic for Harvey.
Scott: I mean, he had that relationship with that guy Steve who used to beat him up. I have these letters from Chip Sarowine. I was in Paris doing my dissertation research. And Chips would write. And Chips convinced Harvey and that Steve guy, who was the son of military, who beat up Harvey, George sort of desired beautiful Jewish boys. Harvey desired WASP, blond, blue-eyed WASPs. His antithesis. And this guy was the son of military people. And Chips wrote to me and said he had gotten Harvey and this kid to go see, it was either Rogers or Sey Halleck.
Tortorice: Oh, right.
Scott: It was one of those, the movement shrinks. And I don’t know what. And then I got a letter from Harvey saying this one had his, [unclear] had his that. We all know that psychoanalysis makes you conform to the regulations of the system. I have those letters, all his letters someplace.
Tortorice: You should put those in the archive. Yes.
Scott: Those belong in the Madison archive.
Tortorice: Oh, I would say so. Yes.
Scott: I remember because I was in Paris and I remember reading this letter and thinking, oh well Chips, it’s not going to work, this family counseling you’re telling Harvey to go see.
Tortorice: Well, Seymour Halleck played a key role in stopping the last big university-authorized purge of gay men. He was the one that really—
Scott: Stopped it.
Tortorice: –was very involved in that.
Scott: They were great guys. I mean, they were really, and I remember he being on some kind of panel about student activism, what motivated student activism. He, Bill Taylor and somebody else. That I have this vague memory of thinking wow, this is really interesting. Because thinking with those guys, and the way they were thinking was very impressive. Yeah. I didn’t know that about Halleck, but I’m not surprised. Yeah.
Tortorice: Very important figure on campus in those years. Well, so you mentioned Harvey a bit. So what was he like as a graduate advisor? Was he—
Scott: He was terrible. He was terrible.
Tortorice: (laughs) Well, that’s—
Scott: He knew what he wanted you to do. He was dictatorial. There was no kind of, the seminar, there was no openness. I remember writing, he was away the second year. And I took a course with Bill Taylor and Harrison, J.F.C. Harrison, John Harrison (1921-2018). And that was where they brought social history to the attention of all of us. Before that, we were kind of doing intellectual, diplomatic, whatever it was. And in that seminar, we read E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, we read everything that had come out in, Thompson’s, I think was ‘63, so this was like ‘63-4, maybe. I was ‘62-3, so this was ‘63-4, or maybe it was ‘64-5. I don’t, I think it was, Harvey was gone his second year, so I was in his seminar the first. I was in Hill’s seminar the first year, Harvey’s the second year, so it was the third year, the year after. So we all became, and so when Harvey came back, he assigned us all what we were going to write our thesis on. And I was supposed to be writing about Paul Lafargue and The Right to be Lazy. So I wrote some kind of social history-inspired paper. And Harvey came into the seminar and he threw it down on the table and he said, “This is not the way to write history!” (laughs) I’ll never forget sort of sitting, I was the one woman in this class, right? I was the one woman in all my seminars in those years. And I remember it was downstairs in some building. I don’t remember the building. And the walls were all, it felt like I was in prison. And I thought, I cannot go on with this guy, you know? (laughs)
But, he was my advisor. I mean, this is the big Harvey/George story for me. So Harvey was my advisor. I ended up telling him I wanted to do a community study, which became The Glassworkers of Carmaux. And he said, “Oh, you do Carmaux because Jaurès was there.” And he had written this biography of Jean Jaurès (1859-1914).
So I went to Carmaux and I did all these things. And he introduced me, which was great, to Roland Trempé who was this French historian of miners in Carmaux and [blah blah?].
So, I come back. Oh, in the process, I got married.
Tortorice: To Don?
Scott: To Don. A blond, blue-eyed Harvey object of attraction.
Tortorice: Who you had met in Madison?
Scott: We met in Bill Taylor’s and John Harrison’s seminar.
Tortorice: Oh, I didn’t realize he was also a graduate student.
Scott: Don and I, we met in graduate school. In a graduate seminar. We always said in a graduate seminar, part of which was focusing on utopian communities. And I wrote a paper on Charles Fourier (1772-1837), the utopian socialist who said there’s no such thing as marriage, and blah, blah, blah. And Don wrote about Fourier’s communities in the United States. And at the end of the semester, we got married. (laughter) It was like the big joke in the seminar. Ha, ha. So I married Don. Harvey was, as Georges Haupt (1928-1978), do you remember, George must have talked about Georges Haupt.
Tortorice: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Right.
Scott: Georges Haupt came and at various points replaced Harvey, but other people, sometimes George, too, as the kind of person they would bring in to do the European history seminar.
Tortorice: Very well known, distinguished.
Scott: Wonderful guy. Hungarian, originally, but based in Paris. And French, for all purposes. Georges Haupt said to me, after Harvey, the story I will tell you in a few minutes. So when I got married, Harvey turned on me. He was furious at me, and he was nasty to me. And Georges was the one who said, Haupt said to me, “You know, Joan, it’s because he’s jealous of who you married.” That was, we married in ‘65, so 1965, ‘66. I was as clueless about, not only about homosexuality, but about desire, as anybody could be, right? I never thought of the world. I thought of the world in terms of rationality. And when Georges said that to me I realized yeah, he’s right. This has been Harvey’s whole kind of relationship to me.
So in any case, I go off to France. I do my dissertation research. I come back. I have a kid. I have Tony at that point. Tony was born in 1966. And then it got even worse. I mean, then Harvey wanted no part of me whatsoever. And I come back, and Don has a job at the University of Chicago. And I’m there as a faculty wife, writing my dissertation with a little kid. And I wanted very much to be at the job market at the end of that year. I was determined I was going to finish. I’m a well-organized, I was even then well-organized. And so every six weeks or so, I would send Harvey a chapter of my dissertation. I never got an answer.
This is 1968-’69. So I mean, we got to Chicago at the moment, the week after the Democratic National Convention. So you know, things are blowing up in Madison. And things are happening in Madison that again, Harvey and George handled completely differently. The students are standing up in lectures and saying, “We don’t need your oppression anymore.” This is the revolt against the oppressive power of the faculty.
George says, “If you don’t want to be here, leave. I saw what happened in Nazi Germany when people did things like this. And I am going to continue to teach my classes.”
Harvey says, “What do you want me to do?” And caves completely to the students.
So in the midst of this, I’m sending Harvey chapters. I never, ever get a response. And at various points I call him and I say, “Harvey, do you have any comments? I need to defend by June, July, whatever, so I can have a job the following year.”
“Oh, Joan, you don’t realize the revolution is going on here. I need to be in the front lines of the revolution.”
Tortorice: Well, he wasn’t. (laughs)
Scott: Yes, right. I mean, we know this, right? “Oh, it’s just been so demanding and so busy. I’ll get to it. I’ll get to it.”
So we get to April or May. And I thought, fuck this. I had the dissertation all typed up and I submitted it, whatever the deadline was. And I called Harvey and I said, “We need to set a date for a defense.”
And he said, “Well, Joan, I have to read it.” It was clear he hadn’t.
So then he assembles a committee. On who he put Richard Hamilton, who was a sociologist. One of those quantifying kind of, you needed, you had to have four possible explanations and one variable to explain everything, who objected that I didn’t, this was not a properly scientific kind of study.
And Harvey called me and he said, “Well, Richard Hamilton says it’s unacceptable.”
And I said, “Well, what do you think?”
And he said, “I’ll get back to you.” Because he hadn’t read it at all at that point. And then he said, “Well, what should I do?”
And I said, “Well, put somebody else on the committee.” (laughs)
Tortorice: What is he doing there, anyway?
Scott: Right. So he said, “Oh all right, I’ll do that.”
So then a date is set for the defense. I can’t remember when it was. And I arrive in Madison. And I go to the office. Remember, Mrs. Dick was the secretary in the history department. And I go to the history department and I say, “I’m here to deliver my dissertation.” It wasn’t for the defense, but it was just to bring my dissertation.
Actually, I got the order wrong. I said to Harvey, “I’m bringing the dissertation to you on such and such a date, and I’m coming.” The other stuff, I didn’t have yet.
So I get to Madison. I drive up to Madison from Chicago and I have my dissertation. And I walk into the history office. And I say, “I’m here to deliver my dissertation.” You know, there’s one copy then that some typist typed up for you.
And Mrs. Dick said, “Oh, Joan, so nice to see you.” And she calls Harvey and she says, “Joan Scott is here with her dissertation.” And she pauses and looks very disturbed and she says, “Well, I’ll put her on.”
So she hands me the phone and Harvey says, “Well, that dissertation is not ready to be defended.”
And I said, “Well, what’s wrong with it?”
He said, “Well, why don’t you come over to my apartment. And I’ll let you know.”
So I hang up the phone and I’m in tears. And she’s saying to me, “Don’t cry.” She’s handing me tissues and saying, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry.”
I said, “I can’t go over there.”
She said, “Well, you have to.”
I said, “I’m calling George.” So I called George and I said, “What am I going to do? He hasn’t read anything. I haven’t gotten any feedback from him. My job possibilities depend on it. I don’t know what I should do.”
And he said, “You go over there, Joan. It will be all right.”
And I only learned years later that he called Harvey and he said, “This is your best student and you cannot do this to her.”
So I get to Harvey’s apartment and I go upstairs. And lying on the floor in obviously the recently opened envelopes are the chapters of my dissertation. And he said, “Well, Joan,” first thing he said to me was, “How are you?” I said I’m fine. He said, “Are you pregnant?” (laughs)
I said, “No. And what does that have to do with it?”
He said, “Well, sit down, sit down.” He said, “I just don’t think this dissertation is ready.”
So I said, “Well, what’s wrong with it? What do I have to do?”
He said, “Well, chapter four,” or five, whatever the chapter was, “is incomplete for the following reasons.” And that was the letter that was on top of the thing that I sent to him saying this is the chapter I’m having trouble with for the following reasons. So he repeated back to me my critique, for which I was asking for help, from my chapter. So he said, “Well, it will be all right. It will be all right.” He said, “We’ll go ahead with the defense as long as you promise to make all the revisions I think need to be made after the defense.” I said fine.
So I leave. I go back to Chicago. Two weeks later I get this phone call in which he says, “Richard Hamilton says the dissertation is unacceptable.”
And I said, “But Harvey, what did you say to him?”
He said, “I’ll get back to you.” Because he still hadn’t read it.
And a week or so later he called me back and he said, “Well, I think it’s all right. I think you can go ahead with it. What should I do about Hamilton?”
I said, “Take him off the committee.” And so he was off the committee.
And so then I went up there on some hot summer day. And the guy named somebody [Leonard] Gordon (1928-2019), who taught Chinese history, Chinese Gordon, we used to call him. (laughs) And Stan, not Stan Katz, but the other Stan. Stan, he was an Americanist.
Scott: Stan Kutler (1934-2015).
Tortorice: Was on your committee?
Scott: So Gordon, Kutler, Joe Elder from sociology, to replace Richard Hamilton, and Harvey, were on my committee. And it was a farce, the whole thing. Gordon sat there eating, with chopsticks, eating his lunch. (laughter) And then at the end, Harvey said, “Well, come back to my office and we’ll talk about what you have to do.”
So I said, “Okay. What are these famous revisions?” And he handed me a list of 25 typographical errors from the thing, and that was it. He shook my hand and that was it. I shook my hand and what I wanted to do was take the dissertation and throw it into Lake Mendota. I felt like the whole thing was—
Scott: Traumatic and farcical.
Scott: And depressing, you know. I took it to the library like I was supposed to do. And it’s probably still there. And that was the end of anything I had to do with Harvey for as long as possible. George I would see if he was in Paris.
Tortorice: But didn’t George sign your PhD?
Scott: No. No.
Tortorice: Oh, I thought he was the one that—
Scott: No, those guys. No, then, years later, we were in Paris, all Harvey, George and I apparently at the same time. And I had seen George. We had had dinner. And George sent me, because he loved to send me those, what were they, thin, it wasn’t like airmail. Those pipes that you sent, what were they called? They work on sort of—
Tortorice: Oh, yes. Those pneumatic—
Scott: The pneumatic things. So he sent me a pneumatic something. And he said, which said, “Joan, I want you to come to lunch with me and Harvey.” He wanted to effect a reconciliation. And we met at a Chinese restaurant on the Rue de Seine. And Harvey was full of stories. And George made me behave, basically. He said to me beforehand, he said, “You will not regret this.” He said, “You will behave.” You know how he would do it. “You will behave.” (laughs) Almost literally say that.
And we had this lunch, and it was fine. And at the end of the lunch we all sort of shook hands and said goodbye to each other. And I never saw Harvey again. And I always tried to stay in touch with or keep some kind of connection to George.
Tortorice: Oh, you did?
Scott: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the saddest thing was, you know that article I wrote which was called “Fantasy Echo”—
Tortorice: Yes, yes.
Scott: –that I sent to George just as he died, he died before he could read it.
Tortorice: Right. I don’t think he could read it.
Scott: No, he couldn’t. I think he died, actually, before. You wrote to me and said that it had come after he had died.
Tortorice: Yes. Yes.
Scott: But yeah, that story. I mean, that, for me always, the two of them, George was the one I could turn to reliably with this maniac, you know (laughs) this completely unreliable person. And then for years afterwards, my fellow graduate students from Harvey’s seminar, when I had a job, I would write their letters of recommendation, because he never did. For me, he ended up never writing letters of recommendation for me. He would say, “Oh, there was a postal strike and I couldn’t get to the post office.” Or there was. He was known among all the graduate students for completely failing—
Tortorice: Being irresponsible.
Scott: Total irresponsibility. Yeah. Yeah, no, I can’t tell you how many of them I wrote for. You know. (laughs)
Tortorice: That’s incredible.
Scott: I mean, I was a few years ahead of them. Not even older than they.
Tortorice: Well, I recall that, I took some courses from Harvey, and I recall him talking about all of these things he was writing.
Scott: Which he never did.
Tortorice: He never wrote any of these things. And I wonder if there was a kind of level of procrastination and resentment and disturbance there that—it’s extraordinary that his reputation is still so vibrant. As a historian, of course he’s forgotten in the kind of—
Scott: No, nobody—
Tortorice: Yes. And I don’t think that his lectures, which are on CD, you can’t listen to them.
Scott: No, I’m sure not.
Tortorice: Because he was such a performer, you know. There was such a rapt feeling in the lecture room. People used to clap, you know?
Scott: (laughs) Oh, God.
Tortorice: He was a kind of charismatic—
Scott: He was really a performer.
Tortorice: He was.
Scott: But I think you’re right. I think the lectures were sort of like meringue, you know? They melt in your mouth, and then there’s nothing left. (laughs) Because you don’t, I mean, I used to hear, I would be walking up the hill and kids would be behind me, undergraduates, going to his lecture. And they were telling, “Then they came to the Bastille, and they burned it down.” So they got the stories.
Scott: But I’m not sure what else they got.
Tortorice: I think it did engender a kind of political—
Tortorice: That he generally didn’t take part in, by the way. And George would say that he was not supportive of his students within the department. And obviously as a person, he had some issues.
Scott: And he was never supportive of his graduate students. I mean, I was probably luckier than most because I had other people supporting me and writing for me. But some of those guys for whom I wrote letters still think of him fondly. And still sort of, will not have the kind of conversation that we’re having about the limits of this guy.
Tortorice: Oh, no. It’s extraordinary. Oh, yeah. I experienced that at this reunion where you have still this split. And some aggressive attitudes towards George. And this idea that one was one or the other.
Tortorice: You know, that you really were in one camp or the other camp. And George was the kind of, you know, old-fashioned, bourgeois liberal historian. And Harvey was cutting edge.
Scott: Right. (laughs) Harvey was the big radical.
Tortorice: Yes. The Marxist. Yes.
Scott: Who could only get us to write biography. You know, talk about cutting edge. It was like, most of George’s students, like David Sabean, I mean, George let them go where they needed to go. And that wasn’t the case with Harvey. No, Harvey was a terrible graduate teacher. (laughs)
Tortorice: Mm hmm. Well, and I think George, I mean, in terms of his students, there’s some really distinguished historians.
Scott: Oh my gosh, yeah.
Tortorice: And I do think he signed your PhD.
Scott: Maybe he did. He was not on the committee. He wasn’t there, though.
Tortorice: I think he’s the one that signed it. And I thought I looked that up and I saw George L. Mosse because Harvey refused.
Tortorice: But I will check on that, Joan. And I will let you know.
Scott: Maybe Harvey in the end didn’t. But I thought, because what I carried over to the whatever was signed by the people in that room. And George was not part of the defense. He was not in the room.
Tortorice: Well, I will check on that. Because it’s not unusual for George to, he wasn’t a great fan of facts in history. (laughter)
Scott: That’s what was so wonderful about him.
Tortorice: Yes, right. He knew how wobbly facts could be. So I will check on that, though. I thought—
Scott: Yeah, check on that. Because my memory is that it was the four of them, the unlikely group of Stan Kutler and whatever his name was, Gordon, and Joe Elder and Harvey. It was like—(laughs) what is this?
Tortorice: Joe is still around. He only retired a couple of years ago.
Scott: Wow, but he must be—
Tortorice: I think he taught till he was like eighty-nine.
Scott: I was going to say, he must be in his nineties, because he was older than some of those other—he was a sweet guy.
Tortorice: Oh, yeah.
Scott: And I did actually take one course with him, so it was legitimate that he was on the defense. (laughs) But then when I had to write my acknowledgements in my glassworkers book, I sort of said, I thanked Harvey for telling me about Carmaux, about that was it. (laughs) Telling me I should work there. Because I thought all the mean and horrible things I could say. No, this is not the place. He just has to be kind of underappreciated in this thing.
But you know, the other Harvey/George story that was so funny. When I was teaching for George. And you know, the first day when everybody came in and you had these cards. And we would count the cards, how many were in the class. He would say, “Miss Wallach, go down the hall and find out how many Harvey has.” (laughter)
Tortorice: How funny!
Scott: “You know those people. You go find out how many.” And I would come back and I would say five hundred something. And George would say, “Oh! We had 552!” It was hilarious.
Tortorice: Well I remember, I think I took a course from George in 71. And one of the first things he said was, “I have nothing but disdain for these professors who urge their students out into the streets and then sneak in the back door of the humanities building.” We knew who he was talking about. (laughter)
Scott: That’s fabulous.
Tortorice: And I think George and Harvey really didn’t talk at all—
Scott: Oh, no.
Tortorice: —after about the time—
Scott: Probably after the time he got me to have the reconciliation moment.
Tortorice: Yeah, right. I think George has helped Harvey in these difficult situations with boyfriends and whatever. But his opinion of him as a person really diminished. I think at one time they were great, well, they loved to have arguments.
Tortorice: And there was a kind of brilliance of conversation.
Scott: Between them, I think that’s right. But I do think he became really disillusioned with him after a while.
Tortorice: Yes he did. Yeah. I could tell that, although George was, he really wasn’t one to trash his colleagues. But I could tell.
Scott: Well in fact, the great, when I read the memoir, I thought, George! All those things you told us about what was going in in the history department, completely absent. I mean, that was the most cleaned up story of Madison in the 60s and 70s of anything. Because he would tell us. David Sabean, there were a bunch of us who were his graduate teaching assistants. And he would tell us what was going on. “Oh, I can’t believe that such and such, and this one and that one.” Not a word. It was amazing to me. I mean, it was disappointing, in a way. I thought, the guy is just too polite. You know?
Tortorice: Well he had a real, that kind of sense of bourgeois propriety.
Scott: Of honor and propriety. Yeah.
Tortorice: And honor. Yes, I think he really did feel that that was not appropriate.
Scott: You don’t write a book like that.
Tortorice: Yeah. You really don’t. But he loved to gossip when, you know, you got him. (laughs)
Scott: We would come into his office. And this was particularly the guys who knew him better, like Sabean and I can’t remember some of the other guys’ names. But David Sabean would come in and he’d say, I don’t think we called him George, I think he said, “Professor Mosse, I have a little piece of gossip for you.”
And George would say, “What?! What?!”
And David would say, “How much will you give me?”
And George would take out a dollar. (laughter) “Here! Here!”
And then David would tell him some salacious piece of gossip about somebody in the department. And George would be like rubbing his hands in delight. (laughter)
Tortorice: He enjoyed it, but he didn’t use it cruelly.
Scott: No, not at all. He just loved to have it.
Tortorice: Yeah. It was a form of entertainment for him.
Scott: So did you know the guys like Burton Pines and what’s his name—
Scott: Latrine, we used to call him. Yeah, Ledeen.
Tortorice: You know, I’ve met them both—
Scott: You know Pines died last year.
Tortorice: Oh, I didn’t realize that.
Scott: Burton died last year.
Tortorice: Oh, yes, I’m sorry to hear that. I saw him the last time a few years ago at the AHA. Yes, he was an undergraduate student of George.
Scott: Yes. Yeah.
Tortorice: And one of the students that went right and became prominent in the—
Scott: In the right wing. Yeah. The Heritage, he had a big job at the Heritage Foundation for a while.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. Right.
Scott: And he was a big Reagan supporter. We were friends and we used to meet for lunch every once in a while in New York. And he would tease me about, in George-like ways, he would tease me about, you know, “Well, you’re still organizing revolutions?” (laughs) And I never was sure how deep his connections to things like CIA stuff were. He was a very careful player. And much smarter than Ledeen, who was openly involved in the Iran-Contra stuff. But it was interesting the sort of guys who really loved George and what he taught, and who went right instead of remaining on the left. Most of the people he was connected to were on the left. Yeah.
Tortorice: There were some that went right. And sometimes I wonder if they didn’t learn more from George in terms of the mechanics of right-wing populism than was perhaps—
Scott: Wise. (laughter)
Scott: I think you’re right.
Tortorice: Yeah. I think they learned a lot from him. And we’re all the poorer for it, unfortunately. But it’s something I think could be a great doctoral dissertation.
Scott: It would be. Because I mean, partly it was a tribute to George because he was not an ideologue in any way. So if he was interested in what you were interested in working on, you could do it. And there was no test of ideological purity that went along with it.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. He didn’t, well, eliminate people from his life because of political differences.
Tortorice: Like many of us do these days. (laughs)
Scott: These days.
Tortorice: I certainly do.
Scott: I have a friend whose answering machine says, “If you are a Republican, please hang up now.”
Tortorice: Good for you. (laughter)
Scott: No, not me. It’s a friend. I called her up one day and it said, “This is … If you’re a Republican please hang up now.” And I was really taken aback. (laughs)
Tortorice: And then some of them of course went right after they were in Madison.
Scott: Much later.
Tortorice: But I think we may have discussed this when you were in Madison, how a formative part of the revival of the right comes out of 60s Madison. And I think that’s a subject that—
Scott: Yeah. That would be a really interesting dissertation. Yeah. I think you’re right.
Tortorice: So, well, did Harvey have other women PhDs? I hope he didn’t treat them all this way.
Scott: I think there was a woman named Linda Zeidman (d. 2019), she’s the only other one. And I don’t think she ever—if she finished I don’t think, I think it was as I did, despite Harvey and not because of him. He put her through terrible things as well. And I think she was the only other one that I knew of. And she was in touch with me partly about what was, what had happened in her life. I don’t think she finished. I think she ended up in Baltimore working on a project on the Bethlehem steel mills that closed down in Sparrows Point or something like that in Baltimore. And she was involved in kind of activist/historian kind of projects. But I’m not sure she ever finished.
Tortorice: Were there other professors besides George that were helpful to you?
Scott: Bill Taylor. Bill Taylor. He was Don’s advisor. And he really sort of, he was the one who brought social history into all of our lives. And he also was one who was really interested in a kind of literary approach to thinking about history, intellectual history. And he was really great and became a very close friend. And he and George, I think, got along really, really well. And I think he respected George among the various colleagues in the department. And he was probably, I mean, Williams was, I didn’t know Williams personally. Williams was a great influence for thinking about American history and that course was fabulous. But Taylor was, I was much closer to personally and pedagogically. I mean, I think I learned through Don and him, I learned how to teach the way he taught. Which was reading documents closely and opening the possibilities for student interpretations that you as the professor might not have thought of. And figuring out how to read textually in ways that for me became the best teaching that I could possibly do.
Tortorice: Well that was the period where social history—
Scott: Was just coming.
Tortorice: –had a huge, well, ambitions. There was a lot of hope for social history in those years as a kind of transformative history.
Scott: Yeah. And that was my generation.
Tortorice: Right. Right. And we had a conference in Germany where there were a lot of social historians that confessed their sins, (laughter) which was rather fun to hear.
Scott: That’s hilarious.
Tortorice: It was. They all kind of said, gee, perhaps we were a bit too ambitious. Things didn’t go quite the way we’d hoped.
Scott: Quite the way we thought.
Tortorice: Yes. Did you have any women professors? Did you know Germaine Brée? There were none in history, of course.
Scott: No. And I didn’t know, I mean, I knew people who knew her but I didn’t know, no. You pretty much stayed in your department. You had to take a minor, which I did in sociology, just because it seemed close to social history. But no, I didn’t know her at all.
Tortorice: She and George were quite good friends.
Scott: And then, didn’t he become really good friends with Gerda [Lerner] (1920-2013) when she got there?
Tortorice: Yes. Yes.
Scott: But that was after my time.
Tortorice: I think actually I helped—
Scott: You helped make that happen.
Tortorice: I helped making their friendship a deeper one.
Scott: That’s great. Because she would have been, I mean, she was a huge ego (laughs) and she could be very difficult. I liked her a lot.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. I did, too.
Scott: And I thought there was a no nonsense quality to her that was really terrific in the world of sort of pretentious and pompous academia. So I could see that she and George would connect.
Tortorice: Well, they both were very German.
Scott: Yeah. (laughs)
Tortorice: And I think their kind of teaching was very German.
Scott: German, too.
Tortorice: And, you know, George is often, well, I suppose you could say accused of not wanting women in his graduate seminars and not being terribly helpful with women students. And Linda Gordon once said, you know, Gerda was the one that women would always come screaming and crying out of her office because she was so tough. (laughter)
Scott: That’s right. She was so mean to everybody.
Tortorice: Yeah, she was. But you know, George stopped taking students in ‘72.
Scott: That early?
Tortorice: Yes. That’s almost fifty years ago. He stopped. He had all these incredible students in the 60s, in the late 50s and the 60s. And then, I don’t know if he was burned out. His take on it was that he couldn’t guarantee them jobs. And he didn’t want to put—
Scott: Put them through that.
Tortorice: Because he was a very formidable graduate trainer.
Scott: Right, right.
Tortorice: Now one of his first students was Catherine [Margaret] Donovan. And he always said that she was one of his best students. But then he helped her get a job at Vassar. And then she turned it down because she had to take care of her mother. And she took a position at Whitewater.
Scott: Oh, God.
Tortorice: And I think died fairly early. I think that was a big disappointment for George.
Scott: I bet it was. Yeah.
Tortorice: But I think also there was, you know, he came out of that male milieu. And I don’t think he knew how to deal with women.
Scott: Wasn’t there some woman he had, she wasn’t a nun, but she was very fat, what I remember.
Tortorice: Yeah, Margaret Donovan.
Scott: Margaret Donovan.
Tortorice: Yeah, Margaret.
Scott: That’s who it was.
Tortorice: Yeah, Margaret. You remember Margaret? Yes.
Scott: What I remember were the stories about he was always trying to fix her up with one of his students. And he had a blind graduate student, I don’t know who it was. And he said, “Well, it won’t matter what she looks like if—”
Tortorice: That’s so George!
Scott: “Yes, right. If he marries this, he won’t know.”
And I think Xavier or one of them said, “But, George, they’d feel how big she was.” (laughs) We would have these conversations like this in the office that were just, I mean, that was when I learned that George was this wonderful tease. And joking with him was the solution to all of these problems, not being mad at him. But that one, I remember. You know, it was like he said it in this kind of mischievous, boyish way. You know, “Well, he’s blind. It won’t make any difference. Miss Donovan will be so happy with him.” (laughs) Oh, God.
Tortorice: Really. I mean, he was hilarious.
Scott: He was.
Tortorice: I mean, he could have been a stand-up comic if he hadn’t been a historian.
Scott: And some of those lectures. I mean, the lectures where he would talk about, oh, one of the ones that we always joked about, because all the graduates, his TAs, we’d all sit in the back in a row. And the guys would do terrible things. Like they’d boo sometimes, jokingly boo. There was a lot of disruption that happened in that row. And he was lecturing about Saint Teresa of Avila and he kept talking about, he wanted to say she was lascivious. And he kept saying she was lavicious. And all of us forever after would talk about Saint Teresa was lavicious. (laughter)
And then he had this stuff where he would make comments about television programs that the students were watching. And I can’t remember which one it was, but everybody would sort of look at each other, like how did he know about whatever this television—
The students loved him, too, the undergraduates. I think among undergraduates, they may have been less political, but they were much more deeply engaged. And he would always tell us, this was one of his lectures, in fact, was, all you people, you graduate students in the back, think that the crises people have when they come here are crises about Marxism or politics, it’s all about religion, these students are having. And the kids responded to that. Because they knew he understood that many of these kids are coming from religious homes and they were having these major crises in this secular university that was teaching them all this stuff that they shouldn’t be learning. (laughs)
Tortorice: Well, and he understood that religion permeates politics, permeates civil life. I mean, it’s not—
Scott: One or the other.
Tortorice: Mechanics of belief and all of that. I think in those days there was a kind of belief in a kind of secular future.
Scott: Yeah. Absolutely. And we on the left already, we were there. And it was these people who had to be converted.
Tortorice: Well, he was provocative as a teacher. And I think he learned over a long career what worked as a teacher. And you know, he always thought that students came in with a huge ideological baggage that they didn’t recognize they had. And he would try to challenge them in ways you probably couldn’t do now. Because I remember he’d say things like, if you really knew what people thought of you, you’d probably commit suicide.
Scott: (laughs) My God, now he’d be turned in to the Title IX or the title something, right.
Tortorice: Or you’re going to be dead soon, so you’d better do something now. You know, he would say these absolutely outrageous things to the students. Now, why do you wear clothes? Have you ever thought about that? Why do you think you have to wear clothes? And why do you all look alike? Why do you wear the same clothes?
Scott: Yes. That would be him.
Tortorice: He was a very provocative teacher that I don’t think would go over well now. So you TAed for George and in “Fantasy Echoes” you were reporting—
Scott: Yeah. Yeah. It was his—
Tortorice: It was from his—
Scott: Yeah, [in German accent] “Yeah, it’s fin de siècle. It’s fantasy echo.” And it was actually Don who said, I said to Don, “What could this possibly mean? Fantasy echo.” And we both sort of puzzled over it.
And then Don said, “Well, you know how George says fin de siècle.” (laughs) And he could be heard and that was it. Yeah.
Tortorice: He had ways of pronouncing things that were really affected, I think. He did it on purpose sometimes. So when you were a graduate student, there were large numbers of graduate students. I mean that was in some ways a very unique period.
Scott: Yeah. It was a huge expansion. It was the moment of the expansion of the university. It’s why women got in. Because they felt like they were going to need more than the men would provide of teachers in the coming years. And that was true for a period of time.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. For a short period.
Scott: For a short period of time. And then not so much. Although compared to now, the ‘70s and 80s were heavenly.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. Really, it’s—
Scott: I mean now it’s like 75 percent of all teaching positions in higher education in the United States are adjuncts. Seventy-five percent.
Tortorice: I think it’s immoral. I think it’s absolutely, universities should be ashamed.
Scott: It’s criminal.
Tortorice: I think it’s awful.
Tortorice: It’s unethical. Well, I think George saw that coming and he stopped—
Scott: He just decided to stop.
Tortorice: Yeah. I think that was—
Scott: That makes sense.
Tortorice: He did have students in Israel. Including, well, one of his women students here, Beth Irwin Lewis, I don’t know if you—
Scott: Oh, yeah. I know her. Yeah. She was after my time.
Tortorice: Yes. But I think a very well known in her field.
Scott: Yes. Yes.
Tortorice: And brought George into that visual, she was the one student who I think really studied that aspect of his work in detail.
Scott: Because in the masculinity book, the visual stuff is really striking in a way that it wasn’t before.
Tortorice: Yes. Yes. Right. And then he did have women students in Israel, doctoral students. Judy Donnerson, who was a scholar of film history. And then I think in later years, he became a mentor to many women, younger women. He really felt that their work was the most interesting and engaging that he experienced in those years. Like Itsy [Isabel Hull] and Laura Engelstein.
Scott: Yes. And Laura.
Tortorice: And Joanna Bourke. There were all kinds of them. He was always in touch with them.
Scott: Laura has this great story. (laughs) Laura said, you know what George once said to her? Because he was always doing stuff like this. George once said to her, “You know why Jews don’t eat pork? Tricky noses. Tricky noses.” (laughter) You can’t tell that to people without them thinking that you’re horribly antisemitic. I mean, you have to be careful. I mean, Laura and I were laughing hysterically about it. But Laura adored George. I mean, she really—and Laura has, I had to learn it. Laura has that sense, that same kind of mordant sense of humor that George had. So she got it right away.
Tortorice: And I feel that the history graduate contingent was very instrumental in the campus protests. Bob Cohen, I think, was a history graduate student–
Scott: Yeah. Yes. Yeah.
Tortorice: –who really was the key leader in those early years of the—
Scott: Marty Sklar (1935-2014), who was also a graduate student. Well, Williams graduate student. A lot of the Williams graduate students were the big leaders, too. God, what was that guy’s name? Henry [Berger] (1937-2018), I can’t remember his last name. But there were a bunch of Williams graduate students who were very active.
Tortorice: You were engaged in radical politics at UW.
Scott: Oh, yeah.
Tortorice: The antiwar and SDS. Were you involved at all with?
Scott: (laughs) Yes. I was involved. I mean, Tom Hayden came to Madison in, on his organizing tour, in ‘63-4, probably it was. Yeah, ‘63-4. And there was an SDS chapter formed. But there was always more local political activism around Studies on the Left. John Coatsworth was a graduate student then. And he was in the Progressive Labor Party, I think. So there was a lot of activity. There was SDS, but I wouldn’t say it was the formative thing. It was Mifflin Street, not SDS, that was the center of radical political activity. And SDS, there was a chapter, I think, it was more undergraduates than graduate students. But you almost didn’t need an organization because of the informal networks that existed and that could mobilize, you know, a Vietnam protest in minutes, without social media.
Tortorice: Yeah, I mean, by the time I got there in the late 60s and early 70s, there were a lot of various groups, like the Revolutionary Union who were basically Maoists. And there were Trotskyists.
Tortorice: And there were a lot of various—
Scott: Different group.
Tortorice: –politically radical groups on campus. That didn’t last too long, but it was that period in the early—
Scott: I think Coatsworth was probably one of the only ones. Also there were the Socialist Workers Party guys who would always hand out newspapers at any demonstration and stuff. But more likely it was a kind of informal alliance of very different—
Tortorice: Now someone mentioned that the theoretical underpinning of the New Left, what there was, really emerged from Madison. From Studies on the Left.
Scott: I think so, but I would say there that it’s Michigan.
Tortorice: More Michigan?
Scott: It’s the Port Huron Statement, it’s Richard Flacks and Tom Hayden and what’s his name, Todd Gitlin. That group, I would say that’s where I would think the New Left came from.
Tortorice: I’m not sure what they were, like Studies on the Left, maybe and some of those—
Scott: Yeah. Jimmy Weinstein. I mean, there were these guys. But I think they were sort of thinking theoretically along some of the same lines. But the real push, I think, came from Port Huron and Michigan, yeah, and Hayden. That’s from the Madison perspective, that’s where I looked for that.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. You were looking, uh huh. So you took graduate seminars with George?
Tortorice: Oh, you never did?
Scott: You know, no, because you only were allowed to be in, it was the old system. It probably isn’t that way anymore. You were assigned to a graduate seminar and you were in it for life. And so the Harvey Goldberg seminar was where I lived, except for the year Harvey was on leave.
Tortorice: And Georges Haupt—
Scott: No. Bill Taylor and John Harrison did the seminar in their place. Haupt, I think I did take that, stay in that seminar when Haupt was in it as well.
Tortorice: Well in many ways, you and George were interested in similar areas of history. Identity, limits of tolerance, difference. You approached it in very different ways. Different, well, attempts to get at kind of the same results, in a way. I don’t know how to explain George’s approach to history. It’s very unique. (laughter)
Scott: I thought of him, I mean, I think he thought of himself as an intellectual historian. Now we might say he was an intellectual and cultural historian, because he was interested in the cultural stuff.
Tortorice: Oh, yes.
Scott: And the lectures in his courses were very much sort of cultural. But we didn’t even have that concept. So he was an intellectual historian. He was doing this sort of thought, popular and high. And that was certainly the way his courses were taught, too. But, yeah, I mean, I don’t think he, and the interesting thing about him was that he would always sort of, he’d find something to sort of fix on and go with it. Not in any systematic way. So it’s not like he wrote the same book over five times.
Tortorice: No. He didn’t.
Scott: Or stayed in the same area. He wanted to kind of puzzle out an issue. And he didn’t always do it as rigorously and as deeply as other people might have. But he opened up these. I mean, I still think that the book on nationalism and masculinity and nationalism, is one of the pioneers in the field. I think what’s her name, Jasbir Puar’s Homonationalism is nothing compared to what George did in that book. Where he broached the question of, and he was listening to the stuff going on around him about sexuality and gender and identity in ways that he didn’t think about stuff earlier. That was one of the really neat things about him was that he had his ear to, or his finger on the pulse of stuff that kept coming up. And then he’d run with it for a while. And then leave it and do something else.
Tortorice: He always moved on to a different area of history. He never was—
Scott: Yeah. You know, he could have stayed with the Reformation forever.
Tortorice: Yes. It’s amazing.
Scott: It was not what he wanted to do. And people would criticize him and say, “Well, he didn’t go deeply enough into the subject.” But that wasn’t the point. The point was to kind of open the story, or open the question and play with it and offer some speculation about it and then let other people figure out where to go with what he’d done.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. Exactly. That was his approach to history.
Scott: Yeah. And that’s what he taught. That’s how I think he taught his graduate students, too. They had to work really hard to document what it was they were wanting to argue. But it was the generosity of his kind of, or the tolerance. If you were going to do this, I mean, when Sabean wanted to do these peasant uprisings in 1525 or whatever, that was not what George sort of had anything to do with. But he sort of let him go. Made sure that he did it in a way that he could be respected for.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. That was really important.
Scott: Really important. Even more for his students than for himself. Because I think some of the things he does, and some of his books you think wow, that’s a really great idea. And then it’s gone. You know, it’s not followed through in a way that he would have made his students.
Tortorice: That’s true. Yeah. I think he expected that others would—and they have.
Scott: Yeah. And they did.
Tortorice: And they have.
Scott: Right. I mean, he did open those conversations.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. On German Jewish history, on war and memory. That book is such a key text. And others have just taken, stolen—
Scott: That’s right. And taken pieces of it. And gone more deeply. But that’s what he wanted to do.
Tortorice: Yes. Exactly. He wouldn’t have minded that. But, so that question of you know, why he didn’t embrace any kind of theoretical method. I think part of it was his own personal history, the generation—
Scott: Yeah, the training. Right.
Tortorice: And then also, in his generation, those historians who became more ideological, maybe not necessarily theoretical, but used ideology, you know, identified themselves so closely with history that they became more advocates for—
Scott: A particular—
Tortorice: But that scare, he had a real, he had very strong political beliefs. He believed everything was political. He would always say that. But he had a fear of fervent political belief and what it could do.
Scott: And what it could do.
Tortorice: And using that in teaching history. I think maybe that put him off. And maybe he couldn’t do it. Because he was, as you said, he wasn’t the most disciplined historian.
Tortorice: You have to really think deeply about theory.
Scott: But also, I also think it just wasn’t of his time.
Tortorice: Right. I think that’s very true.
Scott: I mean, he was formed as a historian in a moment of a more quote unquote “scientific history” in which you sort of tried to figure out what people were doing and thinking. And you didn’t, and there was no kind of theoretical lens through which you did that, or you didn’t think there was. And you did the work. And I just think in that way he’s not alone as a, in his generation of historians.
Tortorice: Right, right. In a way, he didn’t believe in a kind of scientific approach to history.
Tortorice: I mean, he really questioned that whole idea of history as some kind of, that you somehow could tell going back, ah ha, this is what happened on such and such a date. I mean, I think he was more interested in human irrationality and emotions and symbols.
Scott: And currents of thought.
Tortorice: Yes. Currents. Yes, habits.
Scott: Rather than specific events or, that’s why intellectual history was the right rubric for him, in a way.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. Although I think he then became one of the pioneers of cultural history—
Scott: Cultural history, yeah.
Tortorice: –in bringing anthropology in. It’s, you know, one of our students, graduate students, did a blog post on Mosse/Foucault. I don’t know if you saw that.
Tortorice: Because they had similar interests. And I think that if Foucault hadn’t died, because I think Foucault was writing the history of sexuality when he died.
Tortorice: And George’s book came out right as Foucault died. So, who influenced who? I mean, it’s hard to kind of tease that out. It would be a great study.
Scott: That would be really interesting.
Tortorice: Yeah. And I think Lou is writing a new introduction to that book. So perhaps she’ll go into—
Scott: Which one, to Mosse’s?
Tortorice: To Nationalism and Sexuality, a reissue.
Scott: Oh, great.
Tortorice: She’s doing that right now.
Scott: Oh, that’s great.
Tortorice: And she may go into this. But for George, I think nationalism and the formative power of the state were so key. And that was something that Foucault perhaps didn’t address in the same way as George, because you know, George was trained as a historian.
Tortorice: But they had similar. And of course they were both gay men. George never had that breakdown.
Scott: Well George didn’t live, nor lived the outrageous life that Foucault did. (laughs)
Tortorice: Oh my lord, yeah. I think George had an outrageous life in certain periods in Europe. And here in New York. But the thing about George is when he would meet these young men, these hustlers or whatever here in New York, he became friends with them.
Scott: Yeah, he’d take care of them. (laughs)
Tortorice: He would take care of them, which I thought was always rather amusing. Anyway, yeah. Very different people. Different training. Foucault came from the French system. And George was reading comic books. He never went through that. He never had a rigorous education of thinking in kind of way, you know.
Scott: A philosophical education.
Tortorice: Well, so, you know, George did write this, I think in the 70s, this kind of attempt to approach a theory of history. And it’s never been published. And if I can find it, I’ll send it to you.
Scott: I’d love to see it. I would love to see it.
Tortorice: Yeah, I will do that. I remember seeing that in his unpublished works.
Scott: Oh, wow. That would be so interesting to read. Yes.
Tortorice: Yeah. And why he felt he couldn’t do it.
Scott: He couldn’t do it.
Tortorice: Yeah. And then he did write that essay “Towards a Theory of Fascism,” where he had that kind of, trying to create a, you know, in many ways he did. When you think of his theory of otherness and how the similarities of all the outsiders. You know, he did have kind of a method.
Scott: Well, that is a theoretical, well but it’s a theoretical approach, too. Even thinking about outside/inside.
Tortorice: Yeah. He did have, in quite a few, well, examples of that kind of thinking.
Scott: Yeah. It’s a kind of embedded theory. Some of which he probably heard in all of the stuff that was going on around him, some of which he figured out himself from the kind of work that he did.
Tortorice: So he wasn’t adverse to it. I just don’t think he engaged in it in a rigorous way.
Scott: Yeah, in the same way.
Tortorice: Well, I read, we had talked, I don’t want to keep you talking for too much longer.
Scott: It’s okay.
Tortorice: We’re running over. (laughter) But I read the piece that you sent me about the future of history, that question. Well I guess first I would like to ask you, you’ve had some really great students that you trained at Brown.
Scott: Yeah. And afterwards, you know, when I went to the Institute, I would sort of promiscuously pick up students. If I went and gave a lecture at Berkeley, for example, there would be somebody I’d start talking to and I’d end up on her dissertation committee. So I’ve had graduates that haven’t been my graduate students but I’ve had an influence on quite a number of graduate students. The Brown people, like Dagmar [Herzog] and Lou [Roberts], are two really good examples. And Leora Auslander, also. Another group, a different group, was when I went to the Institute, I taught at Rutgers for about ten years. I did a graduate course in history at Rutgers. Todd Shepard, Sandrine Sanos, who else? Brian Connelly. It was a whole group of, they’re younger. They’re in their forties, probably, now. But they were also a fabulous group of graduate. And again, I couldn’t be their primary advisor, but I was on their dissertation committees.
And now here, in my sort of affiliate position here, I have a couple of students, one of whom is Dagmar’s students, whom I’m working with on her dissertation. So that kind of teaching, actually, I’ve always loved. And continued to try to do, even though the Institute didn’t require that you do any teaching or anything like that.
Tortorice: And you couldn’t award PhDs, of course.
Scott: No. The Institute doesn’t give degrees.
Tortorice: Right. But you were closely still with younger scholars.
Scott: Yeah. But I worked with students. In one way or another, I would find my way onto their dissertation committees and work with them. Yeah.
Tortorice: Did you enjoy grad, it sounds like you enjoyed it.
Scott: That was my favorite kind of teaching. I really didn’t like teaching undergraduates. I didn’t like, I could never be the kind of lecturer that George or for that matter Harvey was. I’m just not a good performer of intellectual stuff, you know? I could do a great political speech. (laughs) But I did it. I mean, I had undergraduate courses where I lectured. But it was graduate seminars that were my favorite, are still my favorite kind of thing. And working with somebody to sort of figure out what they want to do, and then turning it into something that is a piece of history, is still a really challenging and exciting thing for me. I love doing it.
Tortorice: Yeah. I think George loved it, too. It’s too bad you and he didn’t engage in a seminar.
Scott: I know.
Tortorice: Because I think it would have been really—
Scott: Oh, it would have been really fun, yeah.
Tortorice: For both of you. Yes. Well I didn’t mention, I wanted to ask you about, to get back to Madison before we talk about your subsequent career. But George and Harvey were two gay Jewish men. For most of those years, they were closeted. I think in the early 80s, they both became more public—
Tortorice: –about that aspect of their lives. But they both were charismatic. They both had huge influences on younger people. And you know, it was probably a kind of deflection of power that they wouldn’t have had as members of society. They wouldn’t have had a traditional patriarchal role in the family.
Scott: Right. Right.
Tortorice: Or I think that their intelligence went into this kind of charismatic, passionate teaching. I think that that came out of this outsider—
Scott: That’s interesting, yeah.
Tortorice: Because I mean, George was the first Jewish person—
Scott: On the Madison faculty.
Tortorice: Yeah. And of course there were absolutely no women. So you can imagine that position that you were in. And then Harvey, of course, came in—
Scott: Sixty-two. He came in ‘63. Because I came in ‘63. I was in Henry Hill’s seminar. And at the end of that seminar, in the spring, Henry Hill said, “Well, I’m retiring. And we have a new person, Harvey Goldberg. And you’ll all be in Harvey Goldberg’s seminar.” And some of the people in Henry Hill’s seminar fled. And others of us ended up in Harvey’s seminar. I mean, I was a first year. So I had no choice. I had to go into that seminar.
Tortorice: They both had enormous influence. And I think it’s just—
Scott: Oh, yeah. I think it is interesting to think about. To think about the way they could displace whatever passions they had. And to find positions of great respect—
Scott: –and admiration and influence as teachers in that situation.
Tortorice: And particularly with younger people.
Scott: Yeah. Yeah.
Tortorice: So to get back to your, so you taught at, I know, a few other places. But then at Brown, where you really as a teacher made your mark in terms of some great students.
Tortorice: And the development of gender studies there.
Scott: The Pembroke Center.
Tortorice: The Pembroke Center. That must have been an extraordinary period for you.
Scott: That was. It was, really. And I never would have left Brown except the Onstitute is, you know, academic heaven. (laughs) And you have to go to academic heaven when you’re called. But Brown was an amazing place. And it was also the place where I first read Foucault, a kind of theory. Because most of the women in the gender studies stuff, the feminist stuff, were in literature. So my sort of introduction to theory came from these literary scholars. And that was just enormously interesting and exciting. So, yeah. So, Brown was a terrific place.
Tortorice: So really at Madison you didn’t feel that that kind of theoretical approach—
Scott: No. Madison was sort of social history. Which I continued to do after Madison. We were in Chicago, I was at Northwestern and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then Brown. And those were sort of, that was, the other places basically I was teaching social history and doing women’s history, social history of women. And then at Brown, I had my conversion experience. (laughs)
Tortorice: Yes. And it came from, well, understanding that traditional women’s history would really not change the paradigm.
Tortorice: And it didn’t have that ability to, you know, that you could say such and such women did this, so therefore women should be—
Scott: Right. Part of things, or visible—
Tortorice: —you know, lifted, you know—yes. And you know that this other approach gave you well, another way of perceiving history, but also an authority, in a way.
Tortorice: Yeah. And I can see how this influenced a whole generation of younger women and got them into academic life and gave them a place.
Tortorice: I see that, certainly in our department. So it’s a huge contribution.
Scott: It doesn’t feel that way. (laughs)
Tortorice: But I think it is.
Scott: It was a really, really exciting time. I mean, Brown and the Pembroke Center and the seminars we had there were just for me, mind-changing. And really have affected the way I do history ever since. That was the place.
Tortorice: So you had some regrets about leaving Brown.
Tortorice: Did you really, yes, I could imagine. But did you find the experience at the Institute enriching besides having a lot of time? What were your colleagues like?
Scott: Well, my colleagues were Clifford Geertz and Michael Walzer and Albert Hirschman when I first got there (laughs), which was daunting. And I learned a lot from them. Particularly from Cliff, from Geertz, who as a cultural anthropologist, somebody thinking both theoretically and empirically, he was just a presence that was enormous. But it took me quite a few years to get used to the place. Unlike a university, where you have students and colleagues who are there pretty much for good. Although people come and go, obviously. At the Institute, there’s a tiny faculty. And then we would have fifteen or twenty fellows who come every year. And sometimes I would get very close to them and they would leave. What we always say is if somebody is really a pain in the neck, it doesn’t really matter because at the end of the year they’re going to leave. But the ones you get to really like and want to keep talking to also leave. Although my network of friends is now an international one. I mean, Judith Butler is an example. Judith came, she wrote Gender Trouble at the Institute. And she came as this unknown. Or not unknown, but little-known, young assistant professor from someplace. And we got to be really, really good friends. I was devastated when she left. You know, it was like no, we just started talking, she can’t leave. And yet we are very close friends. So that was 1987, 88, was the gender year at the institute, my seminar. And so what is that, thirty-two years. I mean, that’s as long, and our friendship is as tight, you know, it has become more and more important over the years. So the tradeoff of not having your community right there is the experience of making friends internationally and nationally. And the good thing about the electronic age is being able to stay in touch with them in ways that would have been much more difficult in the days of writing letters or a phone call even.
Tortorice: Well I know you and Judith Butler have been engaged in, well, issues related to Israel.
Scott: Yeah. The BDS stuff. Right.
Tortorice: Yeah. Which doesn’t surprise me, Joan. (laughter) Anyway, I believe George was at the Institute. But that may have been—
Scott: My God, that’s another George story I could tell you. Oh, this is hilarious. George came to visit me at the Institute once. I don’t know what he was doing. I think he gave some lectures at Princeton. I don’t think he ever was, spent time at the Institute. But he was, he gave some lectures in Princeton and I had him to dinner. It must have been, maybe it was the year I was a visitor? I was there, I can’t remember. Historian that I am, I can’t remember the year. Anyway, George came to visit me. And we had dinner. And he, being George, gossiped. Oh, we took a walk in the woods first. And he said, he wanted to know what I thought of everybody on the Princeton faculty. And he told me what he thought of everybody on the Princeton faculty. You know, “Arno Mayer,” he said to me. “Arno has faults. He thinks he is this, but he is this, his faults.” He said this about a lot of people on the Princeton faculty. And I listened. And I didn’t know most of them, and I might have agreed or disagreed with him. But we had this long conversation. We had this lovely dinner. And then I think he went back to New York. I put him on the train to New York.
And about two weeks later, Arno Mayer called me. And he said, “Can we have lunch?” I was not a particularly good friend of Arno Mayer’s. And we had lunch. And Arno said, “I just want to tell you a story.” He said, “My sister was in a restaurant in the Upper West Side of New York. And at the next table, there was a professor and a young, obviously a young professor.” There was an older professor. It must have been Andy Rabinbach, who is another of his wonderful students. And he said, “And my sister perked up her ears when she heard this professor say, ‘And I was at Princeton,’” and then started saying all these bad things about all of, including Arno. Arno has faults. “And he said, ‘And I know all of this is true, because Joan Scott told me.’” And so Arno was like—(laughs)
And I said, “Well, Arno, I don’t know if you know George. But those were probably his opinions that he was attributing to me because he was telling them to me.”
He said, “No, no.” He never spoke to me again. (laughs)
Tortorice: I bet George got you, oh my God. Because he could juxtapose things when it suited his—
Scott: But I just, in some ways, I didn’t care. Because I had no love for, or interest in, being a friend to Arno Mayer. (laughs) But I was so taken aback. Oh, God! It was so—(laughter)
Tortorice: Oh, God. The stories.
Scott: But I sort of loved it because it was so George at the same time. You could just imagine him telling Andy all of these—
Tortorice: And getting all excited about this gossip, yes. Well I remember walking with him in the neighborhood and he was telling me this incredible tragic story about this colleague from the music department who had walked into Lake Wingra and committed suicide and all of this. And then the garage door opens and George says, “Jim, is that you?” (laughter)
I’m like, “George, you’re a historian. You’re supposed to get your faults, your facts—”
Scott: That’s so perfect. It’s such a perfect George story. (laughs)
Tortorice: Really. Oh my God, yeah. He was hilarious. But well, I guess we could really go on forever, Joan. But is there anything else you wanted to say?
Scott: No. I’m really glad to have told you some of my George stories. Especially the one when he, the crucial moment when he saved me in the dissertation moment, when he saved me from Harvey. I mean he was really, he gave me the courage because I knew he was behind me. First of all, I knew I had to call him in that moment of crisis.
Tortorice: The fact that you knew that, you know.
Scott: And he came through in every way. Even ways I didn’t even know. Because I didn’t know that he called Harvey and yelled at him for half, in the time that it took me to get over there.
Tortorice: He always had a real concern for his students.
Tortorice: And a real interest in their lives and their careers. And that was really key.
Scott: Yeah. He was paternal in the best sort of way.
Tortorice: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Well, I’m really pleased that we were able to capture this information to kind of counter this idea of George as a misogynist ogre, which seems to be, among some of the younger women, you know. I heard that George was—
Scott: But they didn’t know him, right?
Tortorice: No, they didn’t know George at all. And it’s hard to–
Scott: And you know they could have, what they took as misogyny could also have been these teasing kinds of moments. Like the thing with me, “Miss Wallach, Kinder, Küche, Kirche.” (laughs) It’s like anybody who witnessed that would have been horrified. Although I learned that it was a tease. And when I learned to tease him back, we became friends.
Tortorice: Very interesting. I mean, George really liked and admired strong, opinionated women.
Scott: Yes. Absolutely.
Tortorice: He really did. He really cultivated that because of his family. Partially his sister.
Scott: Yes, yes. His sister. Yeah. Whom I think I met once.
Tortorice: Oh, you did?
Scott: She came to visit him. I think she came to visit him in Madison and I think I met her once. Just once. And she was as formidable as you would imagine.
Tortorice: Well, and she was a psychoanalyst, a Freudian. And she didn’t like the fact George was gay.
Scott: Oh, really? I didn’t know that.
Tortorice: Yes. I think this did provoke a kind of division.
Scott: A kind of division.
Tortorice: Because she used to throw that in his face. And I think that wasn’t, and I think for her it was also because she was politically, you know, a Trotskyist.
Scott: And that didn’t, right.
Tortorice: This didn’t resonate.
Scott: I just think it’s so interesting that those Trotskyist, socialist, communist rules about sexuality were so conformist.
Tortorice: Mm hmm.
Scott: I mean, my parents had friends who got married because they were living together and never expected to get married. But the Communist Party ordered them to get married. You know, we don’t want to expose ourselves to any kind of criticism. But there’s much more than that involved in it. There was a deep commitment to—
Scott: —bourgeois norms. Yeah.
Tortorice: Well, as Harvey would have said, the bourgeois morality was inculcated into the working classes by the Communist Party. (laughter) Yes. Well, thank you so much.
Scott: This is great. Thank you. And thank you for doing this. I think this is such a wonderful project. So now what happens? It will be transcribed?
Tortorice: Yes. It may take a little while.
Scott: That’s fine.
Tortorice: I think Lou will want to hear it. (laughter) And many other people, I hope. I think this is really important information that we shared today.
Scott: It’s really nice to actually to be able to correct that misogynist image of him. Because in my experience, that was not the case at all.
Tortorice: Well I am going to, when I hear this, I’m going to say, ah ha!
Scott: Talk to Joan Scott. (laughs)
Tortorice: Talk to Joan. And I will check on whether he was the one that signed for you.
Scott: Yeah, would you?
Tortorice: I will.
Scott: I really would appreciate that.
Tortorice: I think he is. Because Harvey refused. Isn’t that something?
Scott: That, I really need to know.
Tortorice: I will go into the library and actually look at the copy. Or send someone over.
Scott: Right. Get a student to go.
Tortorice: Because I’m not going to be in Madison till—
Scott: So are you not based in Madison anymore?
Tortorice: I live in Tucson for a good portion of the year. You should come visit.
Scott: That’s supposedly heaven.
Tortorice: Yeah, the weather is so nice right now. It’s like in the eighties and cool mornings, you know. Yeah. I mean now for the next seven months, we’ll have very nice weather. And in the summers, I’m going to be in Madison.
Scott: You go to Madison.
Tortorice: I’ll go back.
Scott: You can swim in the lake. (laughs)
Tortorice: Yeah. And Lou’s going to be at West Point, you know.
Scott: Somebody told me that. It wasn’t her.
Tortorice: I think it was me, probably.