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Professor Susan Poulson

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment with New Book

By Professor Susan Poulson

This article originally appeared in the spring 2019 issue of the Department of Latin American and Women’s Studies newsletter. Dr. Poulson’s book, titled Suffrage: The Epic Struggle for Women’s Right to Vote, was published by Praeger in September. Poulson is a professor of history.

The centennial celebration of the passage of the 19th Amendment is nearly upon us, and I am in the final stretch of writing a history of women’s suffrage.

The fight for women’s suffrage was a long and colorful struggle, beginning with a small number of women and men who put forth the radical idea of treating women as political equals at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. After the Civil War, an informal alliance between abolitionists and women’s rights reformers broke over the 14th Amendment, which inserted the word “male” into the U.S. Constitution for the first time.

Several Western states permitted women to vote — Wyoming was the first in 1869 — but national suffrage did not come until women formed a mass movement, with growing militancy, that put increasing pressure on a reluctant political establishment. After Tennessee became the final state to ratify in a dramatic vote at the state’s capital, 20 million American women were able to go to the polls in the fall of 1920.

This book has been several years in the making, with visits to more than a dozen archives across the nation to highlight several of the intriguing citizens who favored and opposed the suffrage movement. The struggle mirrors the changing views and norms for American women from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century and provides background for the continuing evolution in gender roles today.

Provocative Proposal by Professor Published


A provocative proposal by biochemistry professor Timothy Foley, Ph.D., based on an extensive review of existing research and results from his own lab, questions a broadly accepted theory that neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), are caused by “oxidative stress” and, more specifically, by “free radical”-induced brain damage.

In an article published in Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, in which he references 158 research studies, Dr. Foley puts forth a new hypothesis. Specifically, he postulates that over-activation of pathways likely designed to protect against oxidative stress may generate an overlooked “reductive stress” — the opposite of oxidative stress — especially in the extracellular spaces of synapses that mediate communication between neurons. Dr. Foley proposes that the increased reduction, or addition of electrons, to regulatory sulfur-containing groups on synaptic membrane proteins, can promote aberrant changes in synaptic activity. He has termed this view the “reductive reprogramming” hypothesis of neurodegeneration.

“The reductive reprogramming hypothesis I put forth theorizes that irregular increases in compensatory antioxidant activities in neural tissues may, in principle, promote the aberrant reduction of oxidized protein sulfur on the cell surface of neurons,” said Dr. Foley.

The paper, titled “Reductive Reprogramming: A Not-So-Radical Hypothesis of Neurodegeneration Linking Redox Perturbations to Neuroinflammation and Excitotoxicity,” was published online March 23 by Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology.

cohen.jpgOscar Romero is a ‘Light for our Time’

Will Cohen, Ph.D., associate professor of theology/religious studies, recently presented his research on St. Oscar Romero at the Faculty Research Seminar Series. His talk was titled “Political Wokeness and Christian Witness in the Life and Legacy of St. Oscar Romero.” Cohen published an article in Theological Studies a couple of years ago and plans to write an article on his new research. The Scranton Journal asked him a few questions about his work.

THE SCRANTON JOURNAL: What does being politically woke have to do with St. Oscar Romero?

WILL COHEN: Because Romero as archbishop of San Salvador in the late 1970s spoke out strongly against economic injustice and repressive government policies, and because, prior to becoming archbishop, he had not been so outspoken, biographers have often suggested Romero underwent a “conversion” — from a more personal, devotional understanding of Christianity to a more social understanding.

The conversion narrative in Romero’s case has seemed to me to resonate with the idea of becoming “woke” in the sense we often hear it used today. In fact, the motif of waking up is itself actually pervasive throughout the Christian spiritual tradition. For example, in the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, sung liturgically every Lent in my own Eastern Orthodox tradition, a recurring refrain is “O my soul, why are you sleeping?” The emphasis is on an interior awakening to one’s own propensity to sin and the reality of God’s judgment. With Romero, becoming more woke also entailed exposing cultural lies, e.g. the lie spread by the Salvadoran government that the only enemy of Christianity was Marxist ideology. He believed that the oligarchs themselves, though purporting to be the guardians of Catholic culture and tradition, were actually warping the Christian message by their unwillingness to give up worldly advantages to bring about a more just society.

TSJ: Why is this all so relevant now?

WC: We live in a time characterized by distrust — especially of the narratives peddled by our political opponents. It is good to be suspicious of party lines, but we tend not to distrust our own party’s lines, only the other’s. Romero’s commitment to the Gospel above all else enabled him to be “woke” to whatever was not in alignment with it; this commitment gave him a remarkable freedom to engage political issues with wisdom and clarity and not allow the faith to be co-opted by politics. In this sense, he is a light for our time.

Read the full version of this Q&A in our Web Exclusives section, here.


 Faculty Notes

2019 Teacher of the Year

Duane Armitage, Ph.D. ’05, assistant professor of philosophy, was named Teacher of the Year by Scranton’s Class of 2019. Dr. Armitage’s research interests include continental philosophy, existentialism and philosophy of religion.

Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year

Julie A. Nastasi, Sc.D., O.T.D., assistant professor of occupational therapy, was named the 2019 Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year. Dr. Nastasi, who specializes in low-vision rehabilitation, serves as director of low-vision therapy for the University’s Edward R. Leahy Jr. Center Clinic for the Uninsured.

KSOM Professor of the Year

Vincent Rocco, a faculty specialist in operations and information management and manager of the Alperin Finance Center, was honored with the Kania School of Management (KSOM) “Professor of the Year” award by the University’s Business Club.

Professor Wins National Leadership Award

Ashley L. Stampone, a faculty specialist in the Accounting Department, received the 2019 Faculty Leadership Award from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). She serves as the moderator of the University’s IMA student chapter.

New Faculty Member Awarded NEH Grant

Ana Ugarte, Ph.D., assistant professor of world languages and cultures, was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant for her humanities project, among just 233 humanities projects from across the country to be awarded. The NEH Humanities Connections Planning Grant will help support “academic programs that integrate multiple disciplines.”

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