Faculty Mentor: Sarah Potter

Faculty Mentor's Department: History

Contact Information: spotter1@memphis.edu; (901) 614-2725

Project Description: I am looking for assistance on my current book project, Your Cheating Heart: Adultery in the Age of Feminism and the New Right, which examines American attitudes towards adultery from roughly World War II until the 1980s. Using marital infidelity as a lens into the rapidly changing sexual norms of the 1950s to the 1980s, the book chronicles, on the one hand, the growing acceptance by many Americans of sex outside of marriage. Premarital sex, divorce, and, to a much lesser extent, consensual nonmonogamy became increasingly widely acceptedâ€"at least in terms of cultural discourseâ€"as valid choices during these years. On the other hand, however, there remained a strong strain of conservatism in American sexual politics. American culture and politics (then and now) valorized monogamous marital relationships and extramarital sex continued to provoke a variety of anxieties among both those who condemned it and those who condoned it. Unraveling changing attitudes towards adultery helps us understand the many tensions and contradictions in American's approach to the relationship between sex and marriage during these decades of both sexual revolution and sexual conservativism.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Any major, with preference for History or other humanities departments (English, Philosophy, World Languages and Literatures). In good academic standing. 

Applicants should able to work independently and remotely. Student should be comfortable using a variety of U of M Library databases for research, including both primary source and newspaper/magazine collections and collections of published journal articles (such as JStor and Project Muse). Student will be researching newspaper, magazine, and scholarly accounts of political and Hollywood sex scandals involving adultery from the 1940s to the 1980s. They will collect primary and secondary sources and summarize them in a database.

Application or Interview Process: Resume, Letter of Interest, Unofficial Transcript, Name of Faculty Reference; Interview will be virtual and informal. It will be a chance for us to discuss the project and the student's interests.

Hours per Week the Student Will Work: 10 hours

Starting Date: Flexible