Originally published in the USC Dornsife Gender Studies Program Newsletter, August 24, 2017.
After taking his PhD in philosophy at the University of California, San Diego in 1981 Brod joined the faculty at USC where, between 1982 and 1987, he helped to shape The Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society (SWMS, later changed to the Gender Studies Program.) At a time when women’s studies programs were proliferating nationally, Brod’s influence helped to make USC’s SWMS a unique and groundbreaking program, purposefully including “men” in the both the program title and curriculum.
Harry Brod’s local efforts at USC reflected a broader national and international scholarly project that Brod helped to inaugurate: the interdisciplinary field of feminist studies of men and masculinities. Two books edited by Brod were foundational in this effort: The Making of Masculinites (1987) and Theorizing Masculinities (1994). Throughout his career, Harry Brod made important contributions to scholarly thinking on the intersections of masculinities with race and ethnicity, including two books that focused on the experiences of Jewish men—A Mensch Among Men (1988) and Brother Keepers (2010)—and a study of white male anti-racism allies, White Men Challenging Racism (2003). Brod’s most recent book, published in 2012, reflected his longstanding fascination with the historical significance of comic books: Superman Is Jewish?
It is difficult to over-state the importance and depth of Harry Brod’s foundational contributions to men’s engagements with feminism, both academic and movement-based. Brod’s careful and insightful thinking—grounded in his expertise in Hegelian philosophy and in his ethical commitment to feminism and social justice—was expressed in a lifetime of work as a scholar-activist. Brod’s contributions as a public intellectual included many short newsletter or magazine articles, and in recent years, frequent presentations of “Asking For It: The Ethics & Erotics of Sexual Consent,” a lecture now available as an educational film. Brod’s USC friends, colleagues and students were forever touched by the ways that he joined strength of intellect, a passion for social justice and a kind and gentle demeanor. In memory of Brod, the Gender Studies Program made a donation to the Harry Brod Masculinities Studies Collection at St. Norbert College.