Ann Barr Snitow (1943–2019) is celebrated as an influential and much-loved feminist intellectual and activist. A native New Yorker with a Cornell University undergraduate literature degree in 1965, she cut short her doctoral studies in London to return to New York in 1968, responding to the call of the nascent women’s liberation movement. Ann helped found New York Radical Feminists in 1969, beginning a lifetime of feminist organizing and mobilizing. Her equally significant academic work proceeded in parallel with an avalanche of activism, emerging from her many gifts – boundless energy, wide-ranging intelligence, unconquerable optimism, a passion for teaching, and, above all, an almost unique gift for collegiality.
Ann joined the young Gender Studies program at Rutgers University in 1972, staying for ten years while helping to build the culturally aware nontraditional Livingston College. When Rutgers merged its liberal arts programs in 1982 she was fired, later winning a gender discrimination suit. Four years of freelancing followed, including a stint on the first radio show devoted to feminism and women’s news, WBAI’s “Womankind.”
Ann was next hired to help organize the new undergraduate Lang College at the New School, ultimately serving as an Associate Professor of Literature and Gender Studies from 1986 to 2019. Ann relates the extraordinary and volatile story of Gender Studies at the New School in a lengthy 2014 oral history interview.
Among many publications, Ann co-edited Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality (1983) and The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women’s Liberation (1998); in 2015 Duke University Press brought out a collection of her essays, The Feminism of Uncertainty: A Gender Diary (2015), which includes the story of her participation in the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common, UK, in the 1980s. She has written for The Village Voice, The Nation, The Women’s Review of Books, Dissent, and many, many other progressive and feminist publications. Her single-spaced CV runs to thirty pages.
Ann’s ability to organize feminist groups and mobilize their participation in direct activism is legendary and brought many feminists into her orbit. From New York Radical Feminists (1969) to The Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (1977) to No More Nice Girls (pro-abortion zap action group founded with a group of women including Ellen Willis in 1979) to the Feminist Anti-Censorship Taskforce (1984) to Take Back the Future (anti-war group founded with Drucilla Cornell in 2002), Ann brought her skills and generosity to feminist activism on behalf of speech, sexuality, and peace. From 1981 to 1993, she directed the monthly seminar “Sex, Gender, and Consumer Culture” at the New York Institute for the Humanities, which profoundly shaped the thinking and activism of its participants, including several of the Prize committee members.
Ann’s most recent writing and political organizing has dealt with the changing situation of women in Eastern Europe, growing out of her work with the Network of East-West Women, an activist and educational organization she co-founded in 1990. Her book about this work, Visitors: An American Feminist in East Central Europe, was published by New Village Press in 2020. She continued to stay engaged with feminist debates until her final illness in 2019.
Ann’s life partner was Daniel Goode, a clarinetist and composer whom she met at Rutgers. They shared music, politics, travel, and life’s joys and sorrows since 1978. Ann’s father, Charles, was a lawyer who became an international trade-show impresario; her mother, Virginia, was a teacher, women’s rights activist, and philanthropist. Ann Barr Snitow was an exceptional person, who was consistently modest, funny, and wise in every way. This Prize honors her feminist-intellectual-activist model and emulates her generosity.