Eleanor R. Townsley

  • Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Sociology and Director of Nexus
  • Chair of Sociology and Anthropology
Eleanor R. Townsley

Eleanor Townsley is a sociologist who teaches courses in the cultural sociology, social theory, sociology of gender, survey research and data analysis, and an archival and field methods class based in the Mount Holyoke College Archives. She says especially enjoys teaching the introductory course in sociology.

Townsley’s research examines the possibilities of intellectual life in contemporary societies, with a focus on the institutional contexts and political consequences of intellectual practices. She is particularly interested trope theory and has analyzed tropes surrounding the “1960s,” “public intellectuals,” and “interdisciplinary.” Townsley’s early work focused on social science professionalization in the United States during the 1960s and the role of the intelligentsia in transitions from socialism in Central Europe. Still interested in the role of intellectuals and ideas in social change, she is currently examining the nature and influence of media intellectuals in the contemporary United States.

Townsley's research has been published in the American Journal of Sociology, Theory & Society, Theory, Culture & Society, Gender and Society, Thesis Eleven, and New Left Review. She is a contributor to the Handbook of Economic Sociology and coauthor of Making Capitalism without Capitalists (Verso, 2001).

A native of Australia, Townsley has a reputation among her Mount Holyoke students for being passionate about the subjects she teaches, for sparking her students' interest and encouraging them to learn to articulate their own arguments and perspectives. Townsley's students believe the professor's insistence on the development of critical-thinking skills benefits them throughout their lives. In 2005 Townsley was the recipient of the Mount Holyoke College Faculty Teaching Award.

Areas of Expertise

The sociology of intellectuals; cultural sociology; sociology of gender; history of sociology; research methods

Education

  • Ph.D., M.A., University of California, Los Angeles
  • B.A., University of Queensland, Australia

HAPPENING AT MOUNT HOLYOKE

Recent Campus News

Students presented insights and experiences from their summer internships, research and independent studies at this year’s LEAP (or Learning From Application) Symposium, Mount Holyoke’s largest signature event showcasing student achievement.

Mount Holyoke’s annual LEAP Symposium was infused with reflection and what one student dubbed “good chaos.”

Students reflecting on their internships through the annual LEAP 2020 presentations demonstrated the depth and breadth of the liberal arts.

Recent Publications

Townsley, E.   “Career Pathways in the Natural and Social Sciences Science in Liberal Arts Institutions” NSF Advance Grant Proposal for Institutional Transformation with Renae Brodie, Amber Douglas, Elizabeth Markovits, and Matthew McKeever. (2011)

Townsley, E. “The Space of Opinion:  Intellectuals, Media, and the Public Sphere.” (with Ron Jacobs). New York: Oxford University Press. 2011

Townsley, E. “Contexts of Cultural Diffusion: A Case-study of “Public Intellectual” Debates in English Canada” (with Neil McLaughlin), Canadian Review of Sociology / La Société canadienne de sociologie 48(4):341-368. (2011)

Townsley, E. “Intellectuals, Media and the Public Sphere”. Pp. 284-317 in The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology. Jeffrey Alexander, Ronald Jacobs and Phillip Smith (eds). Oxford University Press. (2011)

Townsley, E. The Sociology of Intellectual Life by Steve Fuller. Review. Contemporary Sociology 39(6):708-704. (2010)

View More