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.
Recent publications are below. More are available in Townsley's publications archive.
(forthcoming) Public Intellectuals, media intellectuals and academic intellectuals: comparing the space of opinion in Canada and the United States in The Transformation of Public Intellectuals and Canadian Democracy. Michael Keren and Richard Hawkins(eds.) University of Calgary Press.
(forthcoming) “Defining “the social” in Canada and the United States: public intellectuals, media intellectuals and academic intellectuals” in Knowledge for Whom? Public Sociology in the Making. Andreas Hess (ed.). Ashgate.
(forthcoming) The Performance of Politics: Obama’s Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power by Jeffrey C. Alexander. Review. Thesis Eleven