Book Review: Death in a Tenured Position

As part of my summer reading which you can find about here and here, I finished Death in a Tenured Position by Amanda Cross. Cross was the pseudonym of Carolyn Heilbrun, feminist and noted scholar. Heilbrun taught, as a full professor, at Columbia University for many years. She was also a faculty wife. Her husband,  James Heilbrun, was an economics professor Fordham University. You can find out more about Carolyn Heilbrun here.

I read it because it took place at the Radcliffe Institute which I am writing about in my current chapter. Another book that I read this summer was The Equivalents which is a study of some of the women who were in the first group at the Radcliffe Institute. You can read my review of it here.

As Amanda Cross, Heilbrun wrote fourteen Kate Fansler mysteries from 1964 to 2002. I read several of them when they first came out. I’ve also read Heilbrun’s Writing Women’s Life which is excellent. If I had enough room, I would write about her in my book. Unfortunately, she doesn’t quite fit and I’m running out of room.

I enjoyed reading the book. It was entertaining enough that I also read her collected stories which has several Kate Fansler stories in it. I had some mixed feelings about Death in a Tenured Position. In a way it represented the bad aspects of second wave feminism which many people claim was only about white cis gendered middle-class women’s goals and aspirations and did not include women of color or poor women. Kate Fansler, a professor like Carolyn Heilbrun, is a privileged person and her opinions about lesbians, working class feminists, and other groups seem dated.

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