New Reviews for American Women’s History on Film written by Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier


American Women’s History on Film, my newest book co-written with my colleague Dr. Peg Lamphier is out now and so some reviews are beginning to roll in. While this review in Booklist (March 2023) is mostly informational it’s always nice to hear that our writing style is “informative and engaging” and that this “makes the book a welcome addition to women’s and film-history collections.” That’s been our hope since being commissioned for the book a few years ago.

Yep, it takes a few years from being commissioned to do the research, do the writing, do the rewriting, do the editing, and then for the publishers to print and distribute the book. Our first book in the series covered Films of the Civil War – with that historical period being Peg’s academic specialty and film being mine. Covering women’s history and film this new book fits perfectly in each of our wheelhouses. 

The icing on the cake for me was the chance to celebrate films I adored in my childhood and that I now have on the viewing list for the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting like: Norma Rae, and Silkwood alongside films written and produced by friends of mine such as On the Basis of Sex (produced by Karen Loop) and Hidden Figures (written by Allison Schroeder).  

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget

On Saturday, August 6th I had the pleasure of giving an Introductory lecture on Adaptation before a screening of the movie Gidget. Written by Gabriele Upton the film was based on the novel by screenwriter Frederick Kohner which was itself based on the diaries of his daughter, Kathy Kohner, about the summer she learned to surf.

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget with Dr. Rosanne Welch

I focused on the fact that the book is a love story between a young woman and a sport – surfing – whereas the movie became a more generic love story about a girl and a college boy. While it has been enjoyed over the years its saccharine take has kept readers from discovering the real excitement and joy of independence Kathy (nicknamed Gidget) found that summer in Malibu. She made a series of important decisions about her life and proved herself among a group of seasoned male athletes simply by working hard at being good enough to surf alongside them. I ended by illustrating how the TV series (written by Ruth Brooks Flippen and starring Sally Field in her first big role) managed to capture the truth of the novel better than the 3 films made from it – which oddly starred 3 different women in the lead role but the same male lead – as if the films belong to Moondoggie but the TV show belonged once again to Kathy.

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget with Dr. Rosanne Welch

I had the great treat of bringing my 2 MFA cohorts to the Autry Museum for the event so they could check out the museum before the show. Then we all had the great treat of being joined by the real Kathy Kohner Zuckerman herself along with a group of young female surfers who wanted to watch the movie and meet an idol. Thanks to Ben Fitzsimmons for inviting us all to create this event together. And remember whenever you see a film based on a book that reading the book will make for an even richer experience of the story.

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget with Dr. Rosanne Welch

New Book Coming This November – “American Women’s History on Film” by Rosanne Welch and Peg A. Lamphier

I’m proud to announce my latest book (co-written by my colleague Peg Lamphier) is set for publication this November 2022 by ABC-Clio/Bloomsbury. In it we take a look at 10 films that tell stories about famous moments or women from Women’s History in the United States.

New Book Coming This November – 

Films covered in each chapter are:

  1. Norma Rae (1979)
  2. Silkwood (1983)
  3. Joy Luck Club (1993)
  4. GI Jane (1997)
  5. Iron-Jawed Angels (2004)
  6. Salt of the Earth (1954)
  7. Monster (2003)
  8. Hidden Figures (2016)
  9. Confirmation (2016)
  10. On the Basis of Sex (2018)

We’re particularly pleased with this cover. We learned from our Encyclopedia of Science and Technology that you have to ask for what you want upfront. For that one, the art department had chosen photos of 2 male inventors and the space shuttle to decorate the cover. We asked that it be 2 male inventors and one female inventor for balance. No one had thought about including a female until we asked. So for our Civil War on Film book, we asked for that upfront and sure enough, though the bulk of Civil War films are full of dudes in uniforms they found a photo of Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln sitting beside Mr. Lincoln.

For Women’s History in the United States, we asked to be sure to include women of color and you’ll see we succeeded at that request.

Similarly, a couple of years ago in my work as book reviews editor for the Journal of Screenwriting I asked to use a photo of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala on the cover since one major article was about her amazing career writing everything from Room with a View to Howard’s End to Jefferson in Paris. The editor agreed but then production hit a snag in that the only photo available in our price range was too small to blow up to fill the whole cover. But then someone in production had the great idea to use that small photo several times, strung along on a graphic that made it look like a strip of film with that same picture in every frame. Creative and brilliant and salvaged the idea of having a female face on the cover while simultaneously celebrating the work of a wonderful female writer.

I’m learning!

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

From ABC-Clio…

By exploring a range of films about American women, this book offers readers an opportunity to engage in both history and film in a new way, embracing representation, diversity, and historical context.

Throughout film history, stories of women achieving in American history appear few and far between compared to the many epic tales of male achievement. This book focuses largely on films written by women and about women who tackled the humanist issues of their day and mostly won.

Films about women are important for all viewers of all genders because they remind us that the American Experience is not just male and white. This book examines 10 films, featuring diverse depictions of women and women’s history, and encourages readers to discern how and where these films deviate from historical accuracy. Covering films from the 1950s all the way to the 2010s, this text is invaluable for students and general readers who wish to interrogate the way women’s history appears on the big screen.


  • Focuses on 10 films with an emphasis on racial and class diversity
  • Explores where storytelling and historical accuracy diverge and clarifies the historical record around the events of the films
  • Organized chronologically, emphasizing the progression of women’s history as portrayed on film
  • Accessible for general readers as well as students


Professors Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier spotlight Gloria Steinem in women-centered book series – PolyPost

What’s normal in my world is working on books with my friend and colleague, Dr. Peg Lamphier, about brilliant women in U.S. history.  What’s not normal is having a brilliant young journalism student, Elizabeth Casillas, approach us to write an article about our work. 

This article in the PolyPost is the outcome of both of those events. 

It covers the latest book in the series Peg and I are editing:  Women Making History where we were asked to create 8 women’s biographies to include in the series – with the best part being we then chose the 8 writers for the job. That meant giving a few of them their first book project ever.  That is when this job become the most fun.  This article covers the latest book on the life of Gloria Steinem, written by William Pruden (the only male author in the whole series – why?  Because women’s history IS U.S. History so men can – and should – highlight it, too).


Professors Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier spotlight Gloria Steinem in women-centered book series - PolyPost

Peg Lamphier and Rosanne Welch, lecturers in the Interdisciplinary General Education Department, teamed up to co-edit “Gloria Steinem: A Life in American History,” the second installment of their book series focused on women’s contribution to American history and culture released Aug. 2.

The book, written by William Prudent and published by ABC-CLIO, covers the life of feminist journalist Gloria Steinem. After previously working with ABC-CLIO on “Women in American History,” an encyclopedia dedicated to detailing women’s contributions in American history and culture, Lamphier and Welch were sought out by the publishing firm to co-edit a larger book series.

Other subjects in the book series include Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller, Sally Ride, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ida B. Wells and Delores Huerta.

“If we’re going to have a series on women, what I want is books on women that don’t have 13 other books about them,” said Lamphier on the decision to incorporate Steinem into the series. “We keep trotting out the same women; it’s like we can only know 10 women at a time in America, so we got some people like Wilma Mankiller and Gloria Steinem.” A world-renowned feminist, Steinem’s life experiences were crucial to the feminist movement which compelled the lecturers to include her story in the series.

Read the entire article


On Screenwriting: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Title IV, and Today [Essay]

Working on this chapter about how the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was adapted for the screen in On the Basis of Sex, I was reminded of the interview scene in the pilot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where Lou Grant asks her if she’s married and what religion she is.

On Screenwriting: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Title IV, and Today [Essay]

In 1970 those questions were illegal thanks to Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  But RBG had graduated in 1959 so the Act had not been around to help her.  She was turned down because she was a woman and because she was Jewish – despite achievements like graduating first in her class and the distinction of being the first woman to work on two major law reviews: the Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review.

Then I did some searching on the MTM script and found this article about how, though the scene was written in 1970 by James Brooks and Allan Burns, it is still relevant today.  Fascinating statistics between now and then including the fact that by 2017 in 38 percent of heterosexual marriages, women outearn their husbands.

3 ways ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ pilot is still relevant today from the Washington Post

After Mary Tyler Moore’s death Wednesday, I watched the pilot episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Though the show was revolutionary for its time for its portrayal of a single woman, working in journalism and living alone — I didn’t expect it to hold up all that well. Forty-seven years after the pilot aired, there are parts that are certainly retro. Louis “Lou” Grant (Edward Asner), for example, flat-out tells Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) during a job interview: “I figured I’d hire a man for it, but we can talk about it.” But there’s a lot in that first episode that’s still relevant for single women today.

Read 3 ways ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ pilot is still relevant today

And watch the scene if you don’t know it…

Coming Soon: A chapter in a new book, Doctor Who: New Dawn: Essays on the Jodie Whitaker Era

There are many exciting steps along the way to having a chapter you’ve written about a beloved television show accepted into a book collection.

  • First you see the Call for Submissions, have an idea and send in an abstract.
  • Then they tell you they like your idea and want to include it in their collection.
  • Then you write the chapter and they send back minimal notes.
  • Then (that’s today) they send you the artwork for the cover and you smile all over again knowing other fans of the show will be reading your ideas as they consider the importance of the show to our culture. 

Coming Soon: A chapter in a new book, Doctor Who: New Dawn: Essays on the Jodie Whitaker Era

All those steps (except the cover page) happened recently on a couple of upcoming collections I’m contributing to but the other day this cover came along for Doctor Who: New Dawn: Essays on the Jodie Whitaker Era and I couldn’t be more excited that a show I originally watched on PBS back in Ohio and followed all these years then made their lead character a female and then I had the chance to write about how a writer could go about making such a culturally important change.

My essay is entitled ‘She is wise and unafraid’: writing the first female Doctor and a diverse universe for her to protect

The book itself will be out later this year!

Rosanne Welch and Peg Lamphier perform in The Vagina Monologues at Cal Poly Pomona

For our 3rd year participating in the Cal Poly Pomona Women’s Center’s production of The Vagina Monologues, Peg and I were given My Angry Vagina – and we milked it for all the laughs we could. What is it about college students who laugh every time a professor uses colorful language?

Rosanne Welch and Peg Lamphier perform in The Vagina Monologues at Cal Poly Pomona

Rosanne Welch and Peg Lamphier perform in The Vagina Monologues at Cal Poly Pomona