New Faculty Book: Beyond Norma Rae: How Puerto Rican and Southern White Women Fought for a Place in the American Working Class by Dr. Aimee Loiselle


About the Author

Aimee Loiselle

Aimee Loiselle is an award-winning historian at Central Connecticut State University who studies the modern United States as a hub for transnational labor and capital with an interest in women workers, gender, race, and migration. She received her BA in history from Dartmouth College (1992) and her MA from University of Vermont (1998), before completing her PhD in history at the University of Connecticut (2019). Her research also examines how popular culture obscures the complexities of global labor and makes racialized and gendered meanings for work and wealth. Loiselle earned her secondary social studies license and taught for many years in 9-12 public education and adult basic education. She's also a creative writer who publishes short fiction, personal essays, and blog posts.


Cover of Beyond Norma Rae

In the late 1970s, Hollywood producers took the published biography of Crystal Lee Sutton, a white southern textile worker, and transformed it into a blockbuster 1979 film, Norma Rae, featuring Sally Field in the title role. This fascinating book reveals how the film and the popular icon it created each worked to efface the labor history that formed the foundation of the film's story. Drawing on an impressive range of sources—union records, industry reports, film scripts, and oral histories—Aimee Loiselle's cutting-edge scholarship shows how gender, race, culture, film, and mythology have reconfigured and often undermined the history of the American working class and its labor activism. While Norma Rae constructed a powerful image of individual defiance by a white working-class woman, Loiselle demonstrates that female industrial workers across the country and from diverse racial backgrounds understood the significance of cultural representation and fought to tell their own stories. Loiselle painstakingly reconstructs the underlying histories of working women in this era and makes clear that cultural depictions must be understood as the complicated creations they are. (From UNC Press). 


Podcast, New Books Network (Jan 2024)
Blog, Page 99 Test (Dec 2023)
Blog, “Movies Are Not Mirrors,” UNC Press Blog (Nov 2023)