Historian Alison Lefkovitz, PhD, whose research interests cover law, gender, and the political economy, has been appointed an assistant professor to the faculty of NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts in the Federated Department of History. She will direct a program in law, technology and culture. She will join the talents of more than 20 other new faculty members on campus this fall. The newcomers will add momentum to NJIT’s strategic plan for making a major impact on the quality of life in the 21st century. This interdisciplinary initiative is focused on three vital areas: convergent life science and engineering, “digital everyware” — ubiquitous computing — and sustainable systems.The women and men joining NJIT to serve a growing student body bring expertise that spans diverse supporting clusters. These include advanced manufacturing, architecture design and construction, big data, biochemistry, business systems, material science and engineering, and sensing and control.
“NJIT’s academic status and interdisciplinary strategy have attracted people at various stages of their careers, and who offer NJIT both distinctive abilities and new resources,” says Provost Ian Gatley. “Enthusiasm for NJIT’s interdisciplinary commitment was apparent during the search process. Everyone interviewed spoke about how the problems they work on are inherently interdisciplinary, how they like to work on teams, how they look forward to collaborating with colleagues across disciplines.” Donald Sebastian, NJIT’s senior vice president for research and development, emphasizes that connecting with real-world issues is at the heart of expectations for a technological research university. “Academic disciplines are the core of the university and the framework for learning. However, their alignment with industries of the future is not as obvious as with those sectors that have prevailed over the last century. Our strategic research thrusts are designed to make those 21st-century connections explicit.” Convergent life science and engineering, digital everyware and sustainable systems — themes that transcend departments or colleges — shaped NJIT’s hiring plan, he adds.
Lefkovitz uses new legal history methodologies to examine legal, political, and cultural challenges to marriage from the establishment of President Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women until the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her recent writings argue that the battle to unravel marriage's economic and social mandates revolutionized the gendered order as significantly as the much more familiar struggle for workplace equality. The subsequent backlash brought factions of the new conservative movement together in ways the current literature has not yet acknowledged.
Her approach to these themes is previewed in "Men in the House: Race, Welfare, and the Regulation of Men's Sexuality in the United States, 1961-1972," (The Journal of the History of Sexuality, 2011). She posits that lawmakers increasingly regulated the sexual activity of working-class black men to counteract women's newly-won welfare rights. As director of the History of Women Project at the University of Chicago, Lefkovitz helped make this project into a fund-raising initiative, produced a preview CD of oral histories to distribute, and developed a large-scale exhibit plan.
Recent scholarly paper and conference presentation titles include:
• Passing Down the Aisle: Gay Marriage through Subterfuge in the 1970s
• The Politics of Homemaking: Gender, Citizenship, and Democracy in Post WWII America
• Housewives for ERA: The Illinois Equal Rights Amendment and the Problem of Dependency, 1972-1978,
• Bringing Home the Bacon or Bringing Up the Baby: The Equal Rights Amendment and the Demand for Choice, 1972-1982
• The Feminine Side of the Selective Service: War, Marriage and Citizenship during World War II
Her academic honors and awards include the Miami University Outstanding Professor Award, 2011-2012, and the James C. Hormel Dissertation Fellowship in Lesbian and Gay Studies, 2008-2009. She was a 2012 Hurst Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Lefkovitz received her master’s degree and doctorate in American History from the University of Chicago.