Aimee Loiselle

Aimee Loiselle, Doctoral Student, History, University of ConnecticutContact:
Wood Hall, Room 206

Regional Field: United States
Topical Field: Women, Gender, Race and Sexuality in Modern U.S.
Concentrated Field: The “Global South”

Advisor: Micki McElya

B.A. Dartmouth College, 1992
M.A. University of Vermont, 1998
Thesis: “Corpse, Lover, Mother: Feminism and American Commercial Films of the 1970s-1980s”

Dissertation Title: “Creating Norma Rae: The Erasure of Puerto Rican Needleworkers and Southern Labor Activists in the Making of a Neoliberal Icon”

Book Manuscript in Progress: “Creating Norma Rae: Southern Labor Activists and Puerto Rican Needleworkers Lost in Reagan’s America”

Current Research Interests: 

Aimee Loiselle is interested in the postwar U.S. as a hub for transnational labor, capital and popular culture. She specializes in the histories of working women, gender, and race with attention to both labor and economics.

Her current project examines the 1979 movie Norma Rae as a contested cultural product made by powerful Hollywood professionals who used legal and financial mechanisms to remove Crystal Lee Sutton from the production even though her decision to join a union drive made the film possible. Sutton wanted the screenplay to acknowledge the many workers in the union rather than the transformation of a single hero, a plot that undermined the very collective movement she was trying to help build. The project also examines the movie as a vehicle for reconstituting a cultural narrative of “the white American working class” that relied on particular notions of class, gender, race, and American exceptionalism. This persistent racialized class narrative elided women of color, the importance of the civil rights movement, and decades of southern labor activism in the textile and garment industry.

Loiselle focuses on working women and their interactions with transnational currents. She plans to continue studying the ways women workers navigate and resist both their immediate work conditions and the larger economic systems in which they labor. Loiselle also intends to explore how media images of women workers articulate cultural narratives about work, labor, gender, race, femininity, and sexuality in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Such narratives intersect in potent ways with economic policies, employment practices, and global transformations in capital while often obscuring the experiences, voices, and actions of women workers.

Her teaching spans a variety of student backgrounds and settings that include public high school, adult basic education, community college, and a selective liberal arts college. In many of these roles, student transition and retention were central components. Loiselle has also explored literary publication with a commitment to short fiction.

For more information, please see her website,

Recent Publications:

“Austerity Undermines Every Effort at Equity and Justice,” Women, Gender, and Families of Color, Spring 2018.

“Mary McCurdy” and “Lucy J. Sprague,” Black Women Suffragists Collection, Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000, 21 no. 2, Summer 2018.

“International Women’s Day and American Exceptionalism,” Classism Exposed, Class Action,, March 2018.

“The Norma Rae Icon: Protest as a Spectacle of the Inspirational Individual,” In Media Res: A Media Commons Project,, May 8, 2017.

“A Laboratory for Neoliberalism: Puerto Rican Needleworkers,” El Sol Latino,, May 2017.


April 2018, “Homework, Sweatshops, Factories, and Mills: The New South, Puerto Rico, and Neoliberalism,” Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Sacramento, CA

March 2018, “Fragmented Archives: Northeastern Millworkers and Puerto Rican Needleworkers, the Same Industry, Different Collections,” Association for the Study of Connecticut History, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT

October 2017, “Gender, Sexuality, and the New Labor History,” Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality, Radcliffe Institute, Cambridge, MA

June 2017, “Working the Exemptions: Puerto Rican Needleworkers, Pliable Citizenship, and a Scaffolding for Neoliberalism,” Labor and Working-Class History Association Conference, Scales of Struggle, Seattle, WA

April 2017, “A Laboratory for Neoliberalism: Puerto Rican Needleworkers, Flexible Labor Markets, and Rationales for Exemptions and Incentives,” Puerto Rico: Savage Neoliberalism, Colonialism and Financial Despotism, Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies Conference at UMass Amherst.

March 2017, “Sovereignty, Citizenship, and Labor: Puerto Rican Needleworkers and a Deep History of Neoliberalism,” American Political History Institute Conference, Boston University.  * Winner, APHI Most Outstanding Paper Award

March 2017, “Experiments in Citizenship, Migration, and Labor Recruitment: Puerto Rican Needleworkers and a Deep History of Neoliberalism,” Mobility & Marginalization, GHA Conference, UMass Amherst.  * Winner, Outstanding Paper Prize.

April 2014, “The Norma Rae Phenomenon: Southern Textile Workers as Raw Material for a Pop Culture Icon,” New England Historical Association, Springfield, MA.

November 2013, “The Norma Rae Phenomenon: Textile Workers, Crystal Lee Sutton, Twentieth Century Fox and a Pop Culture Icon,” Film & History, Madison, WI.

March 2001, “Worker or Woman: American Women and New Deal Labor Policy,” Annual Women’s History Conference, Lehman College, Bronx, NY.

Invited Talks:

May 2019, “From Crystal Lee to Norma Rae: Making Millions Off the Story of a Working Poor Woman,” History of Capitalism, Newberry Library Seminar, Chicago, IL

March 2019, “Creating Norma Rae: Textile & Garment Workers Lost Behind a Pop Icon,” Moses Greeley Parker Lecture, Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell, MA

Awards, Fellowships, Honors:

Dissertation Fellowship, Humanities Institute, University of Connecticut, 2018-2019

Travel Award for OAH Presenters, Labor and Working-Class History Association, 2018

Summer Research Award, Caribbean Interdisciplinary Research & Outreach Initiative: Africana Studies Institute and El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies, University of Connecticut, 2017

Covenant Insurance Company Summer Fellowship: College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Connecticut, 2017

Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship: The Graduate School, University of Connecticut, 2016

100 Years of Women Scholarship Award: Women’s Center, University of Connecticut, 2015-2016

Outstanding Scholars Program Fellowship: History Department, University of Connecticut, 2012-2015

Albert E. and Wilda E. Van Dusen Award: History Department, University of Connecticut, 2015

Predoctoral Award: El Instituto – Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies, University of Connecticut, 2015

Bruce M. and Sondra Astor Stave Prize in Recent American History: History Department, University of Connecticut, 2014

Research Fellowship: History Department, University of Connecticut, 2013 and 2014

Fusco Travel Award: History Department, University of Connecticut, 2013

Phi Beta Kappa: Alpha of Vermont, University of Vermont, 1998

Thompson-Bickford Fellowship: History Department, University of Vermont, 1996-1998