A United States historian who continually tries to push the boundaries of her discipline, Mary Renda focuses her teaching and research on the role of women and gender, the multicultural nature of U.S. history, and the international contexts in which that history has taken shape. In addition to her course offerings in U.S. women's history, U.S. imperialism, and other areas of United States history, Renda teaches interdisciplinary women's studies courses. It's not a vacation from her area of specialty, however. "When I teach women's studies," says Renda, "it brings into sharper relief the importance of history."
In 2002, Renda won the prestigious Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize for Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915–1940 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2001). The citation for the award lauds Renda's use of diaries, letters, memoirs, poems, field campaign reports, congressional testimony, military recruitment materials, and photographs to examine the emerging culture of U.S. imperialism and to deconstruct the then-prevailing discourse of paternalism. Not only is the book garnering scholarly attention, but, at several colleges and universities around the country, Taking Haiti is now required reading.
Winner of Mount Holyoke's Pangynaskeia Faculty Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the "physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual" lives of students, Renda has been praised by students for her accessibility and for being "a great listener."
Renda is currently at work on a new manuscript about the uses of imperialism from 1920-1940.
- "Mary Renda Wins Book Award," American Studies Department News Archive
- "New History Course Explores Role of African American Women in U.S. History," College Street Journal, October 10, 1997
- "Mary Renda: Teaching Students to Think Historically," College Street Journal, May 24, 2002