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University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies


The Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professorship

Professors Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi

The Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professorship was generously endowed by the late Carl Djerassi (Professor Emeritus, Stanford University and inventor of the contraceptive pill) in honour of his late wife Diane Middlebrook (Professor Emerita and Head of Gender Studies, Stanford University).

Professor Carl Djerassi Obituary

The Visiting Professorship Scheme is designed to host distinguished senior scholars from a wide array of academic disciplines at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies. The Visiting Professor may be of any discipline and will have an international reputation in gender related research. The Visiting Professor will be expected to give a high profile public lecture on a gender related topic, to lead a small number of research seminars for Cambridge students and generally to become a member of the University's research community.


A message from Professor Carl Djerassi

Why did I decide to fund these professorships in honor of my wife, Diane Middlebrook, and why at Cambridge? Just before her death in 2007, while almost completing her last book, Young Ovid, she quotes Publius Ovidius Naso: In brief, there's nothing we own that isn't mortal save talent, the spark in the mind. What better way of honoring the memory of my wife than bringing great teachers from all over the world to spark younger minds. She and I were both professors at Stanford University, who during much of our writing careers had made London our second home. But of all British universities, it was Cambridge, which welcomed us on more than one occasion, and it was the Centre for Gender Studies, where a few weeks before her death she ─ the consummate speaker and former Chair of Feminist Studies at Stanford, whom I often called Vocalissima ─ gave her last public lecture, which still brings tears to my eyes as I remember seeing the sparks in the minds of the audience.

Carl Djerassi
Professor of Chemistry emeritus, Stanford University.
D.Sc. hon (Cant.)

Professor Diane Middlebrook 'in conversation...'

On 24 October 2007, the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies hosted an 'in conversation' event with Professor Diane Middlebrook on the topic of her book Her Husband, a highly acclaimed account of the marriage between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. During the session Professor Diane Middlebrook read Morning Song by Sylvia Plath and Professor Carl Djerassi read Full Moon and Little Frieda by Ted Hughes. Recording... 

Professor Carl Djerassi


FT Magazine Article

On 21 November 2014, Professor Carl Djerassi talked to the FT Magazine. The article, An interview: Carl Djerassi, father of the contraceptive pill can be accessed via this link