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HISTORY OF WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES

FALL, 2001

KATE WITTENSTEIN

OFFICE: SSC 221. PHONE: X7433. EMAIL: KWITT

OFFICE HOURS: MW: 2:30-4:00

AND BY APPOINTMENT

Web Page: http://www.gac.edu/~kwitt

BOOKS TO BE PURCHASED AT THE BOOK MARK

Linda Kerber and Jane De Hart (eds.), Women’s America: Refocusing the Past. (2000).

Vicki Ruiz and Ellen DuBois (eds.), Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in U/S. Women’s History. (2000).

Stephanie Shaw, What a Woman Ought to Be and to Do: Black Professional Women Workers During the Jim Crow Era. (1996).

Mary Stanton, From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo. (1998).

Leon Stein, The Triangle Fire. (2001).


HUMANITIES AREA AND COURSE DESCRIPTION

History 231 introduces you to the main themes, interpretations, and issues in the history of women in the United States from the Colonial period to the present with emphasis on the mid-nineteenth through the twentieth centuries. We focus on economic, political, social and cultural developments that have influenced the lives of North American women and that they, in turn, have influenced. Diversity of women’s experiences, historical/cultural constructions of gender, race, and social class, the politics of history, periodization, historical agency, and productive and reproductive labor constitute the larger themes of the course. Specific topics include: work and family life in Colonial North America; African-American women’s resistance to slavery; women’s many roles in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II; the political history of the woman’s rights, women’s suffrage, and feminist movements; women as industrial workers; and women’s public activism in the abolitionist, temperance, labor, peace, and civil rights movements. Throughout, we seek connections between past and present and pay close attention to the combined impacts of gender, race, and social class. The course counts toward the Humanities (Area C) requirement which emphasizes critical reading and writing; an understanding of change and continuity over time; attention to the relationship between past, present, and future and knowledge of historical contexts. Our reading, writing, and discussion materials all contribute to building these foundations of liberal learning.



DISCUSSION, COURSE REQUIREMENTS, AND GRADING

This class is based largely on reading and discussion of primary and secondary sources. By discussion I mean not only that you contribute your own interpretations of and ideas about the readings, but that you LISTEN AND RESPOND TO THE INTERPRETATIONS AND IDEAS OF OTHERS. Discussion involves give and take among all class members. It is not a question and answer session between the instructor and individual students. Everyone will be asked to bring discussion questions for the class to consider and lead at least one class discussion. Additional requirements include a secondary source notebook, four tests, and two papers (described below). Your final grade will be computed as follows:


Participation in discussion 25%

Secondary source notebook 25%

Tests 25%

Papers 25%


SECONDARY SOURCE NOTEBOOK




The purpose of the secondary source notebook is to habituate you to identifying and articulating the historian’s argument in each secondary article you read. Everyone will keep a small notebook in which you briefly summarize the main argument and explain how it relates to either one of the course themes or other secondary interpretations you have read for this class. Notebooks must be kept current. I will collect them periodically. We will share our notebooks with each other from time to time.



CRITICAL READING/WRITING ASSIGNMENTS I and II

I: PRIMARY SOURCE ASSIGNMENT: The purposes of this assignment are to introduce you to the availability of primary source documents in U.S. women’s history on the web and to hone your critical reading and writing skills. Everyone will locate a primary source document on one of the women’s history websites found below. The document may be written word, advertisement, cartoon, poster, music, or photograph. You will write a paper that explains the historical significance of the document you have chosen, places the document in its proper historical context(s), offers your interpretation of the document’s meaning(s), and identifies at least FIVE secondary sources to which we can refer for further insight into or background on the document. DUE IN CLASS, NOVEMBER 12. PLEASE BRING TWO COPIES. WE WILL BE READING AND COMMENTING ON EACH OTHER’S PAPERS.


II: SYLLABUS ASSIGNMENT*: The purposes of this assignment is to apply the information you have mastered this semester to critically read a syllabus in the same way you critically read a primary source document. Use the web to locate a syllabus for a U.S. women’s history class taught at another college or university. Write a paper offering your interpretation and assessment of the syllabus you have found. Questions to consider include (but are not limited to) the following: What issues, ideas, assignments can you identify that might be incorporated into future versions of HIS 231? What are the basic themes/issues/approaches raised by the instructor of the course? Can you identify any assumptions, biases, political views, or particular interests on the part of the instructor? Did you find either any omissions and/or topics that received too much emphasis? What is the most important thing you learned from studying someone else’s syllabus? DUE IN CLASS NOVEMBER 30. PLEASE BRING TWO COPIES AND ATTACH THE SYLLABUS.
* I am grateful to Prof. Laura Behling of the Gustavus English department for sharing a version of this assignment with me.

TESTS

The tests allow you to demonstrate what you have learned in each of the four units of the class. Largely essay, the tests encourage you to DEVELOP YOUR OWN INTERPRETATIONS AND ARGUMENTS based on historical evidence and to SYNTHESIZE READING, DISCUSSION, AND LECTURE MATERIAL. The tests are spaced evenly about one month apart at the conclusion of each course unit. The last test is during finals week (on Tuesday, December 18 at 3:30) and covers only section four of the class.



COURSE OUTLINE AND READING ASSIGNMENTS

Sept. 5 Introduction to the Course: Themes and Issues in U.S. Women’s History


7 Gender and the Politics of History

Reading: Kerber, “Gender and the New Women’s History,” in Kerber, pp. 3-24 and Hewitt, “Beyond the Search for Sisterhood,” in Ruiz, pp. 1-19.



SECTION ONE


TRADITIONAL AMERICA: 1600-1820
Sept. 10 Native American Women: Gender and Colonization

Reading: Introduction to section one in Kerber, pp. 25-29 and Evans, “The First American Women,” in Kerber, pp. 39-48.


12 Family Life and Social Structure in Colonial New England
14 Working Women: Black and White

Reading: Berkin, “African American Women in Colonial Society,” in Kerber, pp. 52-60 and Boydston, “”’To Earn Her Daily Bread’: Housework and Antebellum Working-Class Subsistence,” in Ruiz, pp. 80-92.

Read rare letters written by two women held in bondage: http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/collections/african-american-women.html
17 Marriage and the State

Reading: Documents, “The Law of Domestic Relations,” in Kerber, pp. 49-52.


19 Republican Motherhood: The American Revolution

Readings: Documents, “Supporting the Revolution,” and Kerber, “The Republican Mother and the Woman Citizen,” both in Kerber, pp. 107-20.


21 Traditional America: Conclusions and Further Questions
24 TEST ONE

SECTION TWO

INDUSTRIALIZING AMERICA, 1820-1865
26 White Women and the Middle-Class Ideal

Reading: Introduction to section two, Kerber, pp. 121-124 and Sklar, “Catherine Beecher, Transforming the Teaching Profession,” in Kerber, pp. 159-165.


28 Victorian Sexuality and Its Discontents

Reading: Smith-Rosenberg, “The Female World of Love and Ritual,” and Mohr, “Abortion in America,” both in Kerber, pp. 168-192.


Oct. 1 Women’s Labor: Production and Reproduction

Reading: Documents in Kerber, “The Testimony of Slave Women,” and “Working Conditions in the Early Factories,” pp. 125-127 and 157-158. Learn how African American women resisted slavery: http://www.afroam.org/history/slavery/women.html


3 NOBEL CONFERENCE
5 Origins and Strategies of the Early Woman’s Rights Movement

Reading: Documents in Kerber, “Claiming Rights I,” pp. 193-197

For additional information on the woman’s rights, women’s suffrage, and related social movements click on: http://womhist.binghamton.edu/ Also on this site, check out some men ahead of their time. Go to Projects and then “Male Supporters of Women’s Rights in the 1850s.”
8 Woman’s Place Is . . .? The Seneca Falls Convention, 1848

Reading: Lerner, “The Meanings of Seneca Falls, 1848-1998,” in Kerber, pp. 200-206 and Documents in Kerber, “Claiming Rights II,” 207-210.

Tour the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York: http://www.nps.gov/wori/home.htm
10 FILM: “NOT FOR OURSELVES ALONE” ELIZABETH CADY STANTON (1815-1902) AND SUSAN B. ANTHONY (1820-1906)

Reading: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “The Solitude of Self.” (1892). Read “The Solitude of Self”: http://www.lclark.edu/~ria/stanton.solitude.html


12 Section Two: Conclusions and Further Questions
15 TEST TWO
17 FILM: “ONE WOMAN, ONE VOTE” Part Two
19-22 FALL BREAK
SECTION THREE

INDUSTRIALIZING AMERICA: 1865-1920


24 Political Rights and Wrongs: Reconstruction Era America

Reading: Documents in Kerber, “Counterfeit Freedom,” pp. 227-229 and Hunter, Reconstruction and the Meanings of Freedom, in Kerber, pp. 229-40.


26 Are Women Citizens? Supreme Court Decisions and Constitutional Amendments 1868-1876

Reading: Documents in Kerber, “After the Civil War: Reconsidering the Law,” and “The Women’s Centennial Agenda,” in Kerber, pp. 241-246 and 259-261.


29 First and Second Generation Asian Immigrant Women and Public Power

Reading: Murray, “Ilse Women and the Early Korean-American Community,” and Yung, “Unbound Feet: Chinese Women in the Public Sphere,” both in Ruiz, pp. 205-213 and 257-267.

31 The Politics of the New Consumer Culture: Gender, Power, and Popular Culture

Reading: Ruiz, “Star Struck: Acculturation, Adolescence, and Mexican American Women,” and Peiss, “Making Faces: The Cosmetics Industry and the Cultural Construction of Gender,” both in Ruiz, pp. 224-245. Also recommended: Blumberg, “Fasting Girls: The Emerging Ideal of Slenderness in American Culture, “ in Kerber, 363-371.


Nov. 2 FILM: “THE WOMEN OF SUMMER.”

Reading: Stein, The Triangle Fire, Introduction and chapters 1-3 and 8-9.

5 White Working Class Women in the Progressive Era

Reading: Stein, chapter 12-16, 18 and Postscript.

Twenty-five die behind locked doors at chicken processing plant in 1991: http://www.emergency.com/nc-fire.html
7 Sweatshops 2001

Reading: Documents in Kerber, “Protective Legislation,” Kerber, pp. 325-326.

Read about contemporary sweatshop issues and labor activism at: http://behindthelabel.org/

9 Website research


12 Paper due in class: Please bring two copies.
14 African American Women’s Education For Community Activism

Reading: Shaw, What a Woman Ought to Be and to Do: Black Professional Workers During the Jim Crow Era, Preface, Introduction, and chapters two and three.


16 Personal, Professional, and Community Lives

Reading: Shaw, chapters 4, 6, and conclusion.

Find out about early twentieth-century African American women activists and their organizations: http://womhist.binghamton.edu/ go to Projects and then “The Early Years of the National Association of Colored Women.”
19 Industrializing America: 1865-1920: Conclusions and Further Questions
21 TEST THREE
23 THANKSGIVING BREAK

SECTION FOUR

MODERN AMERICA, 1920-2000

26 Lesbian Lives in the Middle West, 1920-1930

Reading: “’But We Would Never Talk about It’: The Structure of Lesbian Discretion in South Dakota, 1926-1933,” on Ruiz, pp. 409-425. Also recommended: Cahn, “’Mannishness,’ Lesbianism, and Homophobia in U.S. Women’s Sports,” in Kerber, pp. 462-471. For documents, bibliographies and additional material on the history of lesbianism and lesbian rights in the U.S. click on: http://www-lib.usc.edu/~retter/main.html
28 Work and Family: The Depression and War

Reading: Orleck, “’We Are that Mythical Thing Called the Public’: Militant Housewives during the Great Depression,” in Ruiz, pp. 376-392 and Matsumoto, “Japanese American Women during World War II,” in Ruiz, pp. 478-491.

30 World War II: The Home Front

Reading: Bailey and Farber, “Prostitutes on Strike: The Women of Hotel Street during World War II” and Evans, “’Rosie the Riveter’: Women and War Work during World War II,” both in Kerber, pp. 426-435 and442-448. Paper due in class: Please bring two copies and attach syllabus.


Dec. 3 The Cold War Origins of Feminism

Reading: Horowitz, “Rethinking Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique: Labor Union Radicalism and Feminism in Cold War America,” in Ruiz, pp. 492-518.


5 Feminism and Civil Rights

Reading: Stanton, From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo.

Check out the FBI file on Liuzzo and her family: http://foia.fbi.gov/liuzzo/liuzzo1.pdf
7 Feminist Documents: 1970-1994

Documents in Kerber, “Making the Personal Political: Becoming a Feminist,” pp. 532-552.



Visit the NOW homepage to learn about current feminist campaigns, issues, and initiatives: http://www.now.org/
9 Change and Continuity: New (and old) Issues for the Twenty-First Century
12 Modern America: 1920-2000: Conclusions and Further Questions
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18, CONFER 128, 3:30-5:30

FINAL TEST


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