Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Morgan Westner
University of Maine
Website URL
advertising, gender, food, sports, popular culture, social roles
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

A writer, cultural historian, educator, archivist, and baker I investigate—and encourage others to explore—social trends, cultural stereotypes, and discrimination of various sorts throughout American history.

I’m especially interested in how the mass media shapes and perpetuates our cultural construction of gender and gendered stereotypes. The ways we have used, and continue to use, gender to market and advertise food products fascinate me. While earning my PhD in American History, I worked as an archivist at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Harvard University. I started teaching a class at the Harvard Summer School, Gender, Food & Culture in American History.

As an archivist at the Schlesinger Library, one of the most phenomenal archives for women’s history and culinary history, and as a researcher of gender history, I had the privilege of reading tens of thousands of letters, diary entries, recipes, essays, and cookbooks written by women. I noticed that most women tended to describe themselves as “ordinary.” In their diaries and letters women often discussed cultural ideals for body image, beauty, and personal relationships-–especially as cooks and caregivers. Often, women judged themselves as falling short of society’s ideal.

I wanted to share inspiring, funny, and sometimes tragic stories of women whom history has forgotten but whose collective experiences have shaped American culture. I also wanted a space to investigate how advertising and the media affects choice, perception, cultural stereotypes, and even the telling of history. The ideas of “cultural amnesia” and the power of the media to transform and/or perpetuate gendered stereotypes intrigue me.

Understanding how cultural stereotypes–especially those surrounding gender–were created/reinforced in the past can help us navigate the minefields of the present.

From 2014-1018, I taught archival theorygender, food & culture, and served as the Director of the Archives Program in History at UMass Boston. As an educator, I’m committed to preserving the past, invigorating teaching by using primary sources, and making archival materials accessible to a broad public audience. I enjoyed collaborating with other local archivists to teach students how to create metadata for digital archives and design interactive online exhibits. I write and teach cultural history because I believe stories have the power to transform our lives.

I’m especially interested in how women affected and responded to advertising—particularly food and swimsuits–in the past century and today.

Recent Publications

Waves of Glory: Swimming through Stereotypes of Gender, Race, and Nationality in Marathon Swimming, 1900-1936, McFarland Press, 2021.

“Recipe for Success: Jean Wade Rindlaub’s Influence on American Women’s Ideals” in We Are What We Sell: How Advertising Shapes American Life . . . and Always Has (vol. 2) Praeger: An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, 2014.

“Aesthetic Athletics: Advertising and Eroticizing Women Swimmers” in Consuming Modernity: Gendered Behaviour and Consumerism before the Baby Boom, University of British Columbia Press, 2013.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United Kingdom, United States
Expertise by Chronology
20th century
Expertise by Topic
Food History, Gender, Material Culture, Race, Sexuality, Sports, Women