A USC history professor visited Saddleback Tuesday to give insight into femininity and the lives of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict.
With four biographies under her belt, Lois Banner listed the three to four hours day of research she does every day of every week. Her last biography was about the lives of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict individually and how they intertwine with one another. Currently she is working on a biography of Marilyn Monroe.
“I think like a detective,” Banner said of her biography writing. “That’s why I am the scholar that I am.”
Banner described how she went about her research while practically living in the library of congress while looking through old letters belonging to Mead.
“[The library is] huge,” Banner said. “It took me two years to go through it.”
The lecture pointed out both Mead’s and Benedict’s work in anthropology and how their field was more conducive to women at a time when women were not as accepted in other fields in the early twentieth century. Banner spoke about their relationship together as friends and also as lovers.
At one point the two women considered themselves in a lesbian relationship together, but reverted back to friendship.
“I cannot see either one without the other,” Banner said.
Banner explained that it was not uncommon to have sexual confusion in the 1920s. It was a time when sexuality was explored often. Mead and Benedict were good examples of this because they were both at one point in straight and gay relationships and trying to understand their own sexuality.
After the hour-long lecture, Banner allowed the students and instructors attending the event to ask questions in regards to her research.
Many students attended the event as an extra credit opportunity for their Anthropology classes.
“It was good,” said Kayhan Esmaeili, 19, international development studies. “I learned the story of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict and how they were influential in the 1920s and 1930s.”
Banner shared her passion for Mead and Benedict with students and instructors. She said of Mead, “I never met her. I can only tell you what I read.”
FROM BOOK TO LECTURE