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Tessie P. Liu


Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1987
Curriculum Vitae


Geographic Field(s):  Modern European History: France and Global Francophonie; Global History

Thematic Field(s):  African Diaspora and African American History; Gender and Sexuality History

Principal Research Interest(s):  Modern France, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Colonialism


Tessie Liu (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1987) is a historian of modern France trained in social and cultural history with a special interest in gender history.  Her first book examined how power differentials within families, particularly the ability to retain the labor of daughters, enabled artisanal households to resist industrial capitalism and thereby shape regional economic patterns.  Liu’s subsequent research has developed in two parallel streams: one focusing on politics of race and citizenship within French colonialism and the other on the intersection of race and class in gender and sexuality studies.  

Having recently completed a study of anti-racism in the French and Haitian Revolutions, she looks forward to shifting her attention towards a new interest in race and the politics of beauty.  As part of the editorial collectives of the journals Feminist Studies and Gender and History, Liu has edited several special issues outside of her main areas of research. She is a committed member of Gender and Sexuality Studies community, having both directed the Program and served as Director of Graduate Studies. Currently, Liu is a member of the executive board of the Social Science History Association.

Affiliated Programs

Gender & Sexualities Studies Program


Books and Edited Volumes

  • Sublime Pleasures/Exquisite Pain: Essays on Race, Feminism, and the Politics of Beauty (book manuscript in preparation).
  • A Frail Liberty: Anti-Racism and the Challenge of Universality in the French and Haitian Revolutions (under review at Cambridge University Press).
  • Co-edited with Nancy Hewitt, special issue: “Second Wave Feminism in the United States,” Feminist Studies 28 (2) Summer 2002.
  • Co-edited with Judith Gardiner, special issue, “Women in the South Asian Diaspora,”Feminist Studies 26 (3) Fall 2000.
  • Co-edited with Nancy Rose Hunt and Jean H. Quataert, Gendered Colonialism in African History (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 1997).
  • The Weaver's Knot: The Contradictions of Class Struggle and Family Solidarity in Western France, 1750-1914.  (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994).

Selected Articles 

  • The Secret Beyond White Patriarchal Power: Race, Gender and Freedom in the Last Days of Colonial Saint-Domingue@ French Historical Studies 33:3 (Summer 2010): 387-416. 
  • “Beauty” The Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History, edited by Akira Iriye and Pierre Yves Saunier (New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009): 76-9.
  • “Teaching the Differences Among Women from a Historical Perspective: Rethinking Race and Gender as Social Categories,”Unequal Sisters: An Inclusive Reader in U.S. Women's History, edited by Vicki L. Ruiz with Ellen Carol DuBois, 4th ed. (New York: Routledge, 2007): 29-40. \ 
  • “What Price A Weaver's Dignity?  Gender Relations and the Survival and Transformation of Home-based Production in Industrial France” in Gender and the Reconstruction of Working-Class History in Modern Europe, edited by Laura Frader and Sonya O. Rose. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996): 57-76. 
  • “Race,”in A Companion to American Thought, edited by Richard Fox and James Kloppenberg (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1995): 564-67.
  • “Commercialization of Trousseau Work: Women Workers in the French Lingerie Trade” in A Woman's Hands in Industrializing Craft edited by Daryl M. Hafter. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995):179-97.
  • “Le Patrimoine Magique: Reassessing Women's Power in Peasant Households in Nineteenth Century France.” Gender and History 6 (Spring 1994): 13-36. 

Teaching Interests

Tessie Liu teaches a variety of course in History and in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. In graduate teaching Liu has offered such courses as “Feminist Theory,” “Historical Methods in Gender and Sexuality Studies,” “Roots of Race-Thinking,” as well as the “General Field Seminar in Modern European History.”  Her undergraduate classes include “Gender, War, and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century,” “Mapping Sexualities in Nineteenth-Century Paris,” and “Gender, Race, and the Politics of Beauty.”