Faculty Directory

Barbara L Epstein
  • Title
    • Professor Emerita
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History of Consciousness Department
    • Humanities Division
  • Affiliations History Department, Jewish Studies
  • Email
  • Office Hours By appointment
  • Mail Stop Humanities Academic Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064

Summary of Expertise

Social movements and theories of social movements; twentieth-century U.S. politics and culture; Marxism and related theories of social change

Biography, Education and Training

Barbara Epstein received her doctorate in U.S. History in 1973. As a student at left-leaning schools in New York City (the City and Country School and the Elisabeth Irwin High School), as an undergraduate (at Harvard/Radcliffe), and as a graduate student (at the University of California, Berkeley) her education took place not only within the classroom but outside it, as a participant in the movements of the time and, in graduate school and beyond, as a member of the editorial collective of the journal then called Socialist Revolution (later, Socialist Review).

Barbara Epstein's scholarship has consistently been about social movements and the problems that they face. Her first book, The Politics of Domesticity: Women, Evangelism, and Temperance in Nineteenth Century America (Wesleyan University Press, 1981) looked at the temperance movement as the first mass women's movement in the U.S. Her second book, Political Protest and Cultural Revolution: Nonviolent Direct Action in the 1970s and 1980s (University of California Press, 1991), was an account of the effort to construct a politics of non-violent revolution through the anti-nuclear and associated movements. Along with Marcy Darnovsky and Richard Flacks, she edited a collection of essays on the politics of cultural radicalism, Cultural Politics and Social Movements (Temple University Press, 1995).

Epstein has also written numerous articles criticizing post-structuralism and the academic star system that it is associated with, and describing both as impediments to a movement for a more humane and egalitarian society.

Currently Epstein is working on a book on the Jewish resistance to fascism during World War Two, focusing on a study of the underground anti-Nazi movement in the Minsk (Belarus) ghetto.

Epstein teaches courses on theories of social movements, on the current transformation of political economy and culture and the range of theories that try to explain it, on twentieth-century developments in Marxism, and on the history of social movements in the U.S. and of Jewish social movements in the U.S. and in Eastern Europe.

Selected Publications

  • 2008 The Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism
  • 1995 Cultural Politics and Social Movements, edited with Richard Flacks and Marcy Darnovsky, Temple University Press.
  • 1991 Political Protest and Cultural Revolution: Nonviolent Direct Action in the Seventies and Eighties, University of California Press.
  • 1981 The Politics of Domesticity: Women, Evangelism and Temperance in Nineteenth Century America, Wesleyan University Press.