"At Bryn Mawr, I felt the world open up to me."
"Growing up in a middle-class neighborhood in New Jersey, I hadn't realized how cloistered it really was. For a young woman in the late 1950s, the expectation was that you would get married and have a family, and I wasn't sure how my education actually fit into that. Then I got to Bryn Mawr, and there was an explosion of other possibilities, other worlds, other lives.
"From the moment the president welcomed the incoming class, we were addressed as potential leaders, as players on the world stage. The message was, 'You are here, you are going to get a wonderful education, and we expect you to do something.' I started soaking it up immediately; I hadn't realized that I was missing it, but it entered a very receptive place in my brain. "
Note: Sherry Ortner '62 has been a leading figure in social, cultural, and feminist theory since the 1972 publication of her now-classic paper "Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?" She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1982, was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1990, and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992. After spending many years studying Nepal's Sherpa people, Ortner found a fresh subject at the 30th reunion of her own graduating class at Weequahic High School in Newark, N.J., eventually producing the celebrated New Jersey Dreaming: Capital, Culture, and the Class of '58. She is currently at work on a study of independent film as an important site for the representation and contestation of rapidly changing cultural norms and values in the United States.