Roberta Salper

By: Roberta Salper

By: Roberta Salper

 * Nominated for the Pushcart Prize

Domestic Subversive: A Feminist’s Take on the Left 1960-1976: ($20, 236pp, 6X9″, ISBN: 978-1-937536-67-1, Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-68114-133-6, LCCN: 2014939989, July 2014; Click to Purchase): “This is the most important and compelling book that has been written on the ‘long’ Sixties, and the only one from a feminist perspective. The Sixties were more than sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and more than student protests against the Vietnam War. Salper starts at home in the US, dealing with anti-Semitism growing up, and takes us to many places─Fascist Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile, US campuses and women’s revolt─conjuring a world in revolution. We live now in the wake of that time and reaction against it.” ─Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960-1975

“What a gift Salper has given us with Domestic Subversive! Salper takes us on her journey as an intellectual and activist during one of the most dynamic times of political ferment in the 20th century. And what a thrilling journey it is–from her time as a budding intellectual in Franco’s Spain to U.S. college campuses during the ascendance of the New Left and the women’s movement, from Castro’s Cuba to Washington D.C.─Salper generously shares with candor her experience inside the movements taking on issues of sexism and economic injustice. Navigating the personal and the political as she develops from a young woman into a sophisticated and dedicated activist and thinker, Salper charts her own path as an academic and a single mother. Her willingness to address the tensions and contradictions within these movements make this a refreshing and page-turning read. Every young activist and feminist should read this book.” ─Vivien Labaton, Co-editor, The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism, Board Chair, Ultra Violet Action

“Since second wave feminism is the largest social movement in the history of the United States, it is surprising that there are fewer than a dozen autobiographies written by the activists of the late 1960s and early ’70s. Roberta Salper’s Domestic Subversive is a welcome addition, especially because it is well-written, often with humor, and promises an anti-imperialist feminist analysis… it is rare to have such a spectrum of the left in the 1960s and early ’70s embodied in one person, especially one with a feminist critique. Salper is a good storyteller and keeps the reader interested and smiling. Read it to learn about the politics of the era and the pervasive sexism, which she points out well in all her jobs.” ─, “An Anti-Imperialist Feminist’s Tale,” Monthly Review: Independent Socialist Magazine

Roberta Salper, resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, and author of one of the early women’s liberation anthologies, Female Liberation: History and Current Politics (Alfred Knopf, 1972) recently published two articles in Feminist Studies, “U.S. Government Surveillance and the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1968-1973: A Case Study,” (Fall 2008, volume 34, number 3) and “San Diego State 1970: The Initial Year of the Nation’s First Women’s Studies Program,” (Fall 2011, volume 37, number 3). Highlights of her academic appointments include dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Southern New Hampshire University, director of Humanities and Social Sciences at Pennsylvania State, Erie, and resident fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Roberta Salper has published books in Spanish and English, many of them gender studies of early-twentieth-century Spanish and Cuban literature, as well as numerous articles about the beginning of women’s studies. She lectures widely on the history and practice of the women’s movement, particularly Second Wave Feminism ( Salper has a Ph.D in Romance Languages and Literature from Harvard University.

Domestic Subversive: A Feminist’s Take on the Left 1960-1976 is an intimate, riveting memoir about the making of a political radical during the upheaval of the 1960s. It is both a personal journey and an inside look at political movements that changed the world. We see Salper first in fascist Spain, next in the heart of the New Left, the early Women’s Liberation Movement, and the founding of Women’s Studies. Finally she is engaged in third world liberation struggles in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile and the United States. As a Harvard-educated scholar, Roberta Salper was destined for a distinguished academic career. Instead she opted for a life of risk-taking, personally as well as professionally. Salper offers a unique look at marriage and family life within Spain’s fascist dictatorship before she decides to “go it alone” and in 1974 becomes a rare example of the single professional mother.

Salper’s relentless search to define herself personally and politically is propelled by having experienced anti-Semitism in American suburban life in the 1950s. She sets out to explore the multiple meanings and functions of “outsider” and “insider” within her immediate social circles and in the greater political arena. What does it mean “to belong”?

Roberta Salper became one of the pioneers of a new field of study that would be known as Women’s Studies. The tools of feminism were honed in the Women’s Caucus of the New University Conference (1968 to 1972). This until now little-studied socialist organization has had an impact on higher education that continues to be felt to this day. In 1970, she was the first full time faculty appointment in Women’s Studies in the first full-fledged Women’s Studies Department in the nation at San Diego State College (now University). Salper was part of the first generation of Second Wave feminists to recognize that, as educated women, their time had come. Doors were opening and they moved to take advantage of the moment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: