Signs Graduate Assistant Simon Purdue has long considered himself a feminist. From a young age, he questioned the status quo of gender roles and the significance behind gender distinctions. From there on, he became increasingly engaged in gender studies, pursuing gender-centric research in first his undergraduate and then his graduate studies. He believes everything in life—specifically history— should be viewed through the lens of gender and that this can be achieved through broad and extensive knowledge of WGSS literature.
Simon’s personal research has focused on women, migration, work, and health in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His master’s thesis explores the relationship between gender and occupational health in the factories and shipyards of Belfast, Ireland. He identified migration as a key factor in issues of occupational health and gender. He hopes to use his doctoral studies to research means by which working European women could secure their own agency and find better working conditions for themselves through migration. Simon thanks the World History program at Northeastern, of which he is an alumnus, for his global perspective on women’s issues.
Olympia de Gouges and Simone de Beauvoir are Simon’s feminist icons, both for turning society’s understanding of gender on its head. He attributes the modern day WGSS field to their contributions through Declaration of the Rights of Woman and The Second Sex. His favorite scholars fall into his own field of history, and include Elisa Camiscioli and Lindsey Earner-Byrne along with Laura Frader (Northeastern WGSS executive committee member and founding faculty of the Women’s Studies program at Northeastern) and Christine Stansell. His favorite historical activist is Alexandra Kollontai, a progressive feminist who fought for women’s rights during the early days of the Soviet Union.
Simon is looking forward to engaging with WGSS literature, collaborating with scholars, and gaining editorial experience through his time with Signs. He is prepared to apply his strong work ethic and passion for learning to convey historical perspectives, viewed of course through a gendered lens.