Professor Montgomery is originally from Winnemucca, Nevada, a rural mining community in the Great Basin Desert. Winnemucca was named for Northern Paiute Chief Winnemucca—the father of famous native rights activist Sarah Winnemucca—and also had a thriving Chinatown in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Like many Nevadans, Professor Montgomery's own heritage is multiracial (white and Mexican) and she is very proud of both sides of her family in the U.S. and Mexico whose working class experiences have deeply shaped her own identity and intellectual work.
Professor Montgomery began her undergraduate career as a first-generation college student at the University of Nevada, Reno. Originally a psychology major with a pre-med emphasis, she studied Japanese as her required language and subsequently took a semester study abroad in Osaka, Japan at Kansai Gakuin University in her junior year. When she returned home to the U.S., she changed majors to East Asian history and Japanese Studies; began taking Mandarin Chinese language classes; and became a McNair Scholar. After graduation, she studied Mandarin Chinese intensively at the Middlebury Language School, the International Chinese Language Program (ICLP) at National Taiwan University in Taipei, and Qingdao Ocean University in China. In 2012, she began graduate study at the University of California, Santa Cruz and in June 2018, completed her Ph.D. in Modern Chinese History with her dissertation entitled, “Gender, Criminality, and the Prison in China, 1928-1953.”
Dr. Montgomery joined St. Olaf College as Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies in Fall 2018. At St. Olaf, she is also a Mellon Faculty Fellow for a Diverse Professoriate through the Associated Colleges of the Midwest.
Dr. Montgomery's research interests include the history of gender, sexuality, and the body; women’s history; the history of criminality and penology; and the history of science, medicine, technology, and drugs.
In March 2020, she was awarded the Henry Luce/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Early Career Fellowship in China Studies, which will support writing on her book manuscript, Problem Women: Gender, Criminality, and the Prison in China, 1928-1958.
Dr. Montgomery's recent “‘Almost None’: Women Sociologists and the Study of Women’s Crime in Early 20th-Century China and the U.S.,” draws scholarly connections between early 20th-century Chinese and U.S. sociologists studying women’s crime, showing that the Chicago school of sociology in particular had an outsized impact on the development of Chinese sociology. Using 1920s and 30s studies of women's crime by Chinese and U.S. women sociologists, the article analyzes how these scholars framed women’s biology, psychology, and physiology and determined whether it did or did not influence criminal behavior. In contrast to their male counterparts in both China and the U.S., women sociologists were more critical of biologically reductive arguments that linked women’s crime to menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, or the biological sex of women in general. Chinese women sociologists were even more adamant than their U.S. women counterparts that there were also no differences in intelligence between lower-class or non-white women and the general population; U.S. women sociologists, on the other hand, continued to uphold classist and racist notions of upper-middle class white superiority.
"Almost None" will be published in physical print in the peer-reviewed journal Social Science History (Cambridge University Press) in Summer 2023.
In 2017, Dr. Montgomery launched a public history podcast with her colleague Dr. Melissa Brzycki—Assistant Professor of History at Monmouth University—called East Asia for All. EAFA historicizes East Asian popular culture, exploring topics such as how to approach East Asian topics as non-Asian fans; issues of cultural appropriation; the white-washing of Asian characters; and unpacking historical relationships between East Asian countries and the U.S., among others.
EAFA artwork by Alison West.
EAFA has been peer reviewed in Public History Weekly and Reviews in Digital Humanities.
Dr. Montgomery is deeply invested in developing innovative pedagogies, particularly those that incorporate digital methods. She has co-authored an article on such digital projects with Olaf colleagues Maglen Epstein, Sara Lynnore, and Jillian Sparks entitled "Materiality, Research, and Digital Interpretation: Annotating Daily Life in Medieval and Early Modern China" in the edited volume Engaging Undergraduates in Primary Source Research.
Left to right: Dr. Montgomery with HIST 250 students—Tor Hanson '23, Namrata Khanvilkar '21, Isabel Wallace '20, Jordan Weaver '20, and Raveena-Flor Lalwani '23—working on the Qīngmíng Annotation Project. Photo by Sara Dale.
Dr. Montgomery regularly teaches a range of classes on the history of modern East Asia, Asian Studies, and public history at St. Olaf, including:
ASIAN 121: Asian Cultures
ASCON 215: Asian Conversations II (abroad)
ASIAN 398: Feminism in Modern China Independent Research
ASIAN 398: 20th-Century Dissidents in the PRC & USSR Independent Research
ASIAN 399: Asian Studies Senior Seminar
HIST 240: Crime and Punishment in East Asia Major Seminar
HIST 250: China, Past and Present
HIST 251: Revolutionary China
HIST 253: Modern Japan
HIST 294: Academic Internship
HIST 296: History Internship Reflection Seminar
HIST 345: Engendering East Asia Seminar
HIST 393: Digital History