Judith Van Buskirk to Discuss Working Lives of 1930s Female Stars


Judith Van Buskirk, a SUNY Cortland associate professor of history, will present “The Glam Girls and the Studios: Stars of the Early Silver Screen as Workers” on Wednesday, March 23, at the College.

She will explore the working lives of seven of the biggest female stars of the 1930s Silver Screen and their struggle for better working conditions in the fledgling industry of motion pictures with a lecture at 4:30 p.m. in Moffett Center, Room 2125.                 

The lecture continues the 2010-11 Rozanne M. Brooks Lecture Series, which is free and open to the public. A reception to welcome Van Buskirk starts at 4 p.m. in the Rozanne M. Brooks Museum, Moffett Center, Room 2126.

“We tend to think of the great actresses of the Silver Screen as somewhat vacuous, pampered dolls,” Van Buskirk states, “But many were trailblazers in the movie business, taking on the big studios and risking their careers on social issues.”

Van Buskirk will take a closer look at the careers of these women to reveal what it really meant to be an actress in the 1930s.

“The likes of Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn and Myrna Loy are renowned for their glamorous personas,” she observed. “They wore clothes beautifully. They lived in posh bungalows overlooking the Hollywood Hills. They were pampered and adored. But they also worked very long hours in a studio system that did not give them much control over their careers.”                  

Van Buskirk joined SUNY Cortland in 1997 as an assistant professor in the History Department. In 2003, she was promoted to associate professor.

In 1999, she was among only 27 scholars worldwide to be awarded a Fellowship in American Civilizations grant by the New York City-based Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Van Buskirk studied at three New York City historical archives for her resulting 2002 book on American Revolution history, Generous Enemies: Patriots and Loyalists in Revolutionary New York.

Along with four scholarly articles, she has had numerous book reviews, article critiques, exhibit critiques and encyclopedia entries published.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in French from La Salle College, and earned a Master of International Business with a concentration in international finance from the University of South Carolina. Van Buskirk earned her Ph. D. from New York University with a dissertation titled “Generous Enemies: Civility and Conflict in Revolutionary New York.”

The Brooks Lecture Series honors the late Rozanne Marie Brooks, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and SUNY Cortland professor of sociology and anthropology. A SUNY Cortland faculty member for 36 years, she died in 1997. The 2010-11 Brooks Lecture Series is sponsored by a grant from Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) and the Cortland College Foundation.

For more information, contact the lecture series organizer and Brooks Museum Director Sharon R. Steadman at (607) 753-2308 or sharon.steadman@cortland.edu.