Margaret Freeman, College of William and Mary | Newberry

Margaret Freeman, College of William and Mary

Friday, November 30, 2012

3 pm to 5 pm


Center for American History and Culture Programs
Gender and Sexuality Seminar

“’Hellenic Culture and Christian Ideals’: White, Greek-Letter Sororities and the Culture of Nostalgia”
Margaret Freeman, College of William and Mary

Part of my larger study on white sororities in the American South, this paper discusses reasons for the formation and popularity of national sororities in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century.  I consider the importance of “civilization” and definitions of citizenship for white middle class Americans who felt threatened by the increasingly visible African American, immigrant, and working class populations in the United States.  Through an examination of the American public’s interest in classicism as a nostalgic rejoinder to this period of social change, I argue that sororities specifically benefited from their nostalgic image, while enabling members to define themselves as “cultured” and “civilized.”

Commentator: Caroline Janney, Purdue University

Cost and Registration Information 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.