University of Minnesota
American Studies

American Studies' Home Page

Fall 2015

Scott Hall 316

Office Hours: Tuesday 10am to 3pm or by appointment

Elaine T May

American Studies 207 Scott H 72 Pleasant St SE

Department Affiliations


Elaine Tyler May is Regents Professor of American Studies and History, and Chair of the Department of History. She is a historian of the United States in the twentieth century whose work centers on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, domestic culture and politics.  Her scholarship explores the ways in which issues normally considered part of private life – such as consumerism, security, and leisure pursuits – reflect, express, and influence American political, cultural, and social values.  Her books and articles examine changing expectations for marriage in the early 20th century, family and sexuality in the cold war era, the history of women, and the history of childlessness, reproduction, and birth control in America.   Her current research project is an examination of the legacy of the cold war at home, which explores the ongoing quest for national and personal security in terms of Americans’ sense of danger from within as well as outside the country.


  • 20th century United States history
  • The Cold War era
  • gender, sexuality, politics

Educational Background

  • B.A.: History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1969.
  • M.A.: United States History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1970.
  • Ph. D.: United States History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1975.


  • America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril and Liberation. May, Elaine, Basic Books, Author, 2010.
  • Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. May, Elaine, Basic Books, Author, 2008 edition.
  • Tell Me True: Memoir, History, and Writing a Life. May, Elaine, Patricia Hampl, Borealis Books, Minnesota Historical Society Press, Co-Editor, 2008.
  • Created Equal: A Social and Political History of the United States. May, Elaine, Co-Author with Jacqueline Jones, Peter Wood, Thomas Borstelmann, Vicki Ruiz, Longman Publishers, Author, 2002.
  • Barren in the Promised Land: Childless Americans and the Pursuit of Happiness. May, Elaine, Harvard University Press, Author, 1996.
  • Pushing the Limits: American Women 1940-1961. May, Elaine, Author, 1994.
  • Here, There, and Everywhere: The Foreign Politics of American Popular Culture. May, Elaine, Co-editor with Reinhold Wagnleitner, University Press of New England, Co-Editor, 2000.
  • Great Expectations: Marriage and Divorce in Post-Victorian America. May, Elaine, University of Chicago Press, Author, 1980.

Research Activities

  • "Fortress America: Fear and the Quest for Security": book in progress

Professional Activities

  • President: Organization of American Historians , 2010
  • Douglas Southall Freeman Professor of History: Visiting Professor, University of Richmond, 2008
  • President: American Studies Association , 1995 - 1996
  • Distinguished Fulbright Chair in U.S. History, Dublin, Ireland: Mary Ball Washington Professor, University College Dublin , 1996 - 1997
  • Huntington Library Residential Fellow: Long-Term Research Fellowship , 2004 - 2005


  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 2015 - 2016
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2013 - 2014
  • Regents Professor. University of Minnesota Board of Regents, 2007
  • 2006 Distinguished Women Scholar's Award
  • Fesler-Lampert Chair in the Humanities, 2003 - 2004
  • College of Liberal Arts Deans' Medal, University of Minnesota, 2001
  • College of Liberal Arts Scholars of the College, University of Minnesota, 1996
  • Fulbright Scholar Award
  • McKnight Research Award

Courses Taught

  • AmSt 1907W - Honors Freshman Seminar: Legacy of Cold War in the United States
  • AmSt 3301W - Senior Proseminar in American Studies
  • AmSt 4101W - Gender, Sexuality, and Politics in America
  • AmSt 8231 and 8232/History 5831 and 8232 - Cultural Fallout: The Legacy of the Cold War
  • AmSt 3114 The United States in International Perspective
  • AmSt 2011 The U.S. Since 9/11
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