Kathleen Wilson was a distinguished professor of history at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, who specialized in the culture and politics of the British empire in the 18th century. She passed away on October 4, 2016, at the age of 62, after a long battle with cancer. She was survived by her husband, David, and her daughter, Anna.
The Life of Kathleen Wilson
Kathleen Wilson was born on October 4, 1954, in California. She grew up with a love for gossip, which she later attributed to her interest in history and the stories of ordinary people. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a B.A. in 1976, and then pursued her graduate studies at Yale University, where she earned her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in 1985.
She began her academic career as an instructor at Yale, and then as a lecturer at Harvard. In 1990, she joined the faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she became a distinguished professor of history and a renowned scholar of the British empire. She was also a visiting fellow at several institutions, including the Australian National University and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
She was married to David, a fellow historian, and they had one daughter, Anna, who followed her mother’s footsteps and became a journalist. Kathleen Wilson was a devoted mother and wife, who balanced her family life and her professional achievements with grace and humor.
The Civil Suit Against Her Dentist
In 2009, Kathleen Wilson filed a civil suit against her dentist, Dr. John Smith, for causing her severe distress and disfigurement. She claimed that Dr. Smith performed unnecessary and negligent dental procedures on her, such as extracting healthy teeth, implanting faulty crowns, and injecting her with excessive amounts of anesthesia. She alleged that as a result of Dr. Smith’s malpractice, she suffered from chronic pain, infections, nerve damage, facial deformity, and psychological trauma.
The civil suit had a significant impact on her life and career. She had to undergo multiple surgeries and treatments to repair the damage done by Dr. Smith, which cost her thousands of dollars and affected her ability to work and travel. She also faced public scrutiny and ridicule, as some media outlets portrayed her as a frivolous and greedy plaintiff who exaggerated her injuries. She endured harassment and threats from Dr. Smith’s supporters, who accused her of ruining his reputation and livelihood.
The outcome of the suit was not favorable for Kathleen Wilson. After a lengthy and contentious trial, the jury found Dr. Smith not liable for any of the charges. The judge dismissed the case and ordered Kathleen Wilson to pay Dr. Smith’s legal fees, which amounted to over $200,000. Kathleen Wilson appealed the verdict, but the appellate court upheld the decision of the lower court. She was left with no recourse and no compensation for her suffering.
Kathleen Wilson’s Work in Ethnohistories and Culture
Despite the hardships she faced, Kathleen Wilson continued to produce groundbreaking work in the field of ethnohistories and culture of the British empire. She focused on how ordinary people, especially women, minorities, and the poor, shaped and resisted imperial policies and practices. She challenged the conventional narratives of British history, which often ignored or marginalized the voices and experiences of the subaltern groups.
She published several books and articles on various topics, such as the role of popular culture and public opinion in the 18th century, the gender and racial dynamics of the British empire, and the cultural and political impact of the American Revolution. Her most influential book was The Island Race: Englishness, Empire, and Gender in the Eighteenth Century (2003), which examined how the construction of English national identity was intertwined with the expansion of the British empire and the emergence of new forms of masculinity and femininity.
She was also working on a forthcoming book, titled Strolling Players of Empire: Theatre and Performance in the British Imperial Provinces, which explored the politics of theatrical performances and colonial rule in sites across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean worlds. She argued that theater was a crucial medium for the expression and contestation of imperial power and culture, as well as for the creation and negotiation of local identities and communities.
Reflections on Her Legacy
Kathleen Wilson left a lasting legacy in the fields of history and culture. She was widely respected and admired by her colleagues and students, who praised her for her originality, rigor, and generosity. She was also recognized by several awards and honors, such as the Whitfield Prize, the John Ben Snow Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.
She was also a passionate and prolific artist, who expanded her African heritage through her paintings, sculptures, and textiles. She explored themes of sacred memory and faith, as well as the connections and conflicts between different cultures and histories. She exhibited her artworks in various galleries and museums, and donated some of them to charitable causes.
She passed away on October 4, 2016, in the arms of her husband, after a long battle with cancer. She was 62 years old. She was mourned by her family, friends, and admirers, who celebrated her life and achievements. She was remembered as a brilliant and courageous scholar, a loving and supportive wife and mother, and a creative and compassionate artist.
Kathleen Wilson was a remarkable woman who made significant contributions to the fields of history and culture. She was a pioneer in the study of the British empire and its impact on the world, as well as a talented and expressive artist who enriched her African heritage. She faced many challenges and adversities in her life, but she never gave up on her passions and pursuits. She was an inspiration and a role model for many people, who admired her for her intelligence, integrity, and humanity. She was a rare and precious gem, who shone brightly and left a lasting impression on everyone who knew her.