Carol Gilligan received an A.B. with highest honors in English literature from Swarthmore College, a masters degree in clinical psychology from Radcliffe College and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University. Her landmark book In A Different Voice (1982) is described by Harvard University Press as “the little book that started a revolution.” Following In A Different Voice, she initiated the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development and co-authored or edited five books with her students: Mapping the Moral Domain (1988); Making Connections (1990); Women, Girls, and Psychotherapy: Reframing Resistance (1991); Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development (1992) — a New York Times notable book of the year — and Between Voice and Silence: Women and Girls, Race and Relationships (1995). Her 2002 book The Birth of Pleasure, was described by The Times Literary Supplement as “a thrilling new paradigm.” She has received a Senior Research Scholar Award from the Spencer Foundation, a Grawemeyer Award for her contributions to education, a Heinz Award for her contributions to understanding the human condition, and was named by Time Magazine in 1996 as one of the 25 most influential Americans.

Following her research on women and girls’ development, she studied young boys and their parents and explored impasses in man-woman relationships. The Strengthening Healthy Resistance and Courage in Girls programs, the Women Teaching Girls/Girls Teaching Women retreats, and the In Our Own Voices workshops she developed with her colleagues have become model intervention and prevention projects. She was a member of the Harvard faculty for over 30 years and in 1997 became Harvard’s first professor of Gender Studies, occupying the Patricia Albjerg Graham chair. In 1992, she was Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge.

In 2002, she became University Professor at New York University, with affiliations in the School of Law, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her 2009 book The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy’s Future, co-authored with David A. J. Richards, was published by Cambridge University Press. Her most recent book, Joining the Resistance, was published by Polity Press in 2011. She teaches a seminar on resisting injustice with David Richards at the Law School and seminars on The Listening Guide Method of Psychological Inquiry at the Steinhardt School. In 2011, she gave master classes on the Listening Guide for history Ph.D. students at the University of Cambridge and for psychologists at the University of Brussels.

Her first novel, Kyra, was published by Random House in 2008. Her play, “The Scarlet Letter,” coauthored with her son, Jonathan Gilligan, was presented at the Culture Project’s WomenCenterStage festival in New York City in 2005 and 2007. The play has now become the libretto for an opera, “Pearl,” which had its first workshop performance at Shakespeare & Company in August, 2012. The opera will be part of a Chinese-American cultural exchange in Shanghai in March, 2013, and will be performed again in workshop format at Shakespeare & Company on August 5, 2013.

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Harvard University Press, 1982

In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development

This is the little book that started a revolution, making women’s voices heard, in their own right and with their own integrity, for virtually the first time in social scientific theorizing about women. Its impact was immediate and continues to this day, in the academic world and beyond. Translated into sixteen languages, with more than 700,000 copies sold around the world, In a Different Voice has inspired new research, new educational initiatives, and political debate—and helped many women and men to see themselves and each other in a different light.

Random House, 2008

Kyra: A Novel

An unforgettable novel about love–and the first work of fiction by the author of the groundbreaking nonfiction bestseller In a Different Voice.

Kyra is an architect, involved in a project to design a new city. Andreas, a theater director, is staging an innovative production of the opera Tosca. Both have come through political upheaval and personal loss. Neither wants to fall in love. Yet when she asks him, “What is the opposite of losing?” and he says, “Finding,” it galvanizes a powerful attraction, and they risk opening themselves to love once again.

Relevant Reading

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 68:4 2020

Disrupting the Story: Enter Eve

In a course on listening that I teach at NYU, we begin each year with Freud—the case of Fraulein Elisabeth von R. from Studies on Hysteria (Breuer and Freud 1893–1895). It has become a Baedeker for my students, a guide they can follow as they embark on a journey of psychological inquiry, aided by the exquisite precision with which Freud tracks his own path to discovery and the steps he took in coming to comprehend what were at first mysteries: why Elisabeth suffers great pain in walking and in her own words could not “take a single step forward” (p. 152); why, as he observes along the way, a “group of ideas relating to her love had already been separated from her knowledge” (p. 157); and, lastly, why is it that when Elisabeth claims not to know what is happening to her, in fact she does know (although as Freud notes in the case of Miss Lucy R., she may not know that she knows it (pp. 110–111).

The Paradigm Shifters series is brought to you by NYU Center for the Humanities & NYU Skirball.

Hosted by Uli Baer, PhD, Director of NYU Center for the Humanities.