She was a pioneer in the field of women’s studies, teaching a class on “Women and Literature” in the early 1970s. In an attempt to provide students with an example of a successful female character in literature, she began assigning Ayn Rand
‘s Atlas Shrugged
for her class. This led her to write one of the earliest academic articles about Rand as a literary figure, “Ayn Rand and Feminism: An Unlikely Alliance,” which was published in 1978.
She later wrote or edited several other works about Rand, including The Ayn Rand Companion
and Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand
. When Gladstein began work on The Ayn Rand Companion
, she sent Rand a request for an interview. The reply was a letter from Rand’s attorney threatening to sue Gladstein for violation of Rand’s copyrights if she proceeded with the book,
a response that Gladstein found “bizarre.”
In 1986, Gladstein published The Indestructible Woman in Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck. Her work related to Steinbeck has won multiple awards. She received the John J. and Angeline Pruis Award for Steinbeck Teacher of the Decade (1978–1987), and in 1996 she received the Burkhardt Award for Outstanding Contributions to Steinbeck Studies.
In addition to her scholarly work, Gladstein has held a number of administrative positions at the University of Texas at El Paso. She was the first director of the Women’s Studies Program, director of the Western Cultural Heritage Program, and executive director for the university’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration. She was twice the chair of the English Department, and later chaired the Department of Theatre, Dance and Film. She also served as Associate Dean of Liberal Arts.
In addition to the two awards for her work on Steinbeck, Gladstein also received the Burlington Northern Award for Teaching Excellence, and in 2003 the University of Texas at El Paso gave her the College of Liberal Arts’ Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award. The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes
won a 2009 Latino Book Award: 2nd place for Best Biography in English.