It isn’t every day that an undergraduate student is acknowledged in a widely-read work of historical scholarship. That’s why the History Department was excited to learn that a Fordham undergraduate, Marlessa Stivala, was thanked for her input in Susan Bordo’s new book, The Creation of Anne Boleyn (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).
We asked Marlessa to tell us how she became involved in Bordo’s research for her new book. She writes:
From countless novels, to films such as Anne of the Thousand Days, to Showtime’s recent series The Tudors, it appears as if the modern era cannot get enough of Anne Boleyn. Though she died hundreds of years ago, her life and legacy has marked her as one of the most iconic and somewhat infamous women of history—but why? What precisely makes Anne so particularly fascinating? In the recent book entitled The Creation of Anne Boleyn, author Susan Bordo attempts to explore this question—and I was fortunate enough to contribute to the work.
A few years ago, I happily stumbled upon a post on The Anne Boleyn Files website about an opportunity to contribute to this book via a series of interview-style questions pertaining to my knowledge of, interest in and exposure to Anne. As both an aspiring writer and someone who has been fascinated with Anne for several years, I was thrilled to have such an opportunity. The questions I answered included: “What qualities of Anne, if any, do you identify with or admire?” and “Why do you think so many young women today are drawn to Anne Boleyn?”, among others. At the time, I was naturally unaware as to how much (if any) of my personal responses Ms. Bordo would ultimately utilize in her book, thus I was quite pleased with what I did end up contributing to the final product.
Just as Ms. Bordos’s book explores the question as to why Anne has remained so compelling, I personally have often been asked why I find her to be such an inspiring woman whom is worth studying. My response often tends to be along the lines of an incredulous: “Well, especially as a young woman in the modern world, why would you not read about someone like Anne?” Though she lived hundreds of years ago, she is a perfect embodiment of the type of the great heights any woman can reach when she sets her mind to it and fully embraces all aspects of herself. She was witty and intelligent, as apt at understanding politics as she was music. She was known for her biting remarks and dark sense of humor, but was also a caring mother who loved her family and friends. She ascended to great prestige and power without compromising who she was as a person. She proved that woman could be outspoken and stand on equal footing with men in an age where women were expected to be silent and obedient. She showed that passion does not make a woman weak nor does it require her to sacrifice any of her professional ambitions. Of course, for anyone who doubts Anne’s importance or says that, despite her rise to power, she ultimately “lost” due to her tragic final days, I have only this to say: hundreds of years later, we are all still captivated by her and waiting to see what she will do next. She must have done something right.
And here’s a post by Marlessa on Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII from “The Anne Boleyn Files” blog: