Professor Margaret Susan Thompson Sarah Warren (TA)
Office: 313C Maxwell Hall, x. 5882 Office: 029 Eggers Hall, x. 9906
email: email@example.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours—Tu: 2-3:15, Wed: 2-3:15 & by appt. Office Hours—Th: 2-4, & by appt.
HST/WGS 349: Women in US History since the Civil War
What’s It All About? Focusing on the past 150 years, this course is intended to provide an overview of women’s experiences in America from the Civil War to the present. While it is not a course on the history of feminism, it will be taught from a feminist perspective. What does that mean? Stated simply, in this class women will be considered as subjects—as actors who themselves “make history,” and not simply as passive objects of the actions of others. Moreover, it assumes the full personhood of women, the reality of discrimination against women, and the intrinsic significance of women’s experience. Beyond that, it is not expected that students in the course will share the professor’s point of view on all matters (indeed, with any luck, the class will contain a healthy diversity of backgrounds and perspectives).
It should be understood from the outset that “U.S. women’s history” is not monolithic. Therefore, we will pay considerable attention to the diversity among women and their experiences over time. This diversity adds to the complexity of what we will be studying—but it also will add to the richness of understanding that I hope you will take away from this class. Student participation is not only welcome, but essential!
Finally, this course also assumes the seriousness with which women's history needs to be considered—so, know from the outset that HST/WGS349 is designed to be both demanding and challenging. There is a lot of assigned reading (after all, we are dealing with a lot of long-neglected material). Though it may be impossible for you to do it all, the more you read, the more you will get out of the class (and the better your grade will be). And you are expected to do most of it! As we go along, certain readings will be noted as deserving special emphasis.
Required Books (available at Follett’s):
Linda K. Kerber, et al., eds., Women’s America: Refocusing the Past,
Volume 2, seventh edition (be sure to get the correct edition and volume)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (any edition, including ebook or free online, at:
Mary McCarthy, The Group
Susan Douglas, The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took Us from
Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild
Other required materials are online and accessible via links in this syllabus. In addition,
there may be occasional handouts.
READINGS, ATTENDANCE, AND PARTICIPATION. Students are expected to attend class regularly, and are responsible for all material covered and for any handouts and announcements that are made. It should be noted that lectures will include material not contained in the readings, so if you must miss a class you should borrow notes from a classmate. Students are encouraged to participate in discussions, and should feel free to ask questions at any time during class. You should also be aware that all class meetings will assume prior familiarity with pertinent readings; therefore, you are urged to complete the readings before the date for which they are assigned. IMPORTANT: Readings in this course are unequally distributed. DON'T GET DISCOURAGED—but do try to plan ahead. Besides, the readings for this course are interesting!
Please arrive on time. If you leave class once it begins, do not expect to return—use restroom and get water, snacks, etc., before you arrive or not at all. Use computers in class ONLY to take notes or to consult course-related texts. Anyone who is seen checking email, facebook, twitter, or any games or websites during class will receive one warning and, after that, will not be permitted to use a computer or tablet again during the semester. Absolutely NO texting or other use of smartphones will be allowed. [HST/WGS349—page 2.]
OFFICE HOURS/CONFERENCES. Both the professor and TA will be available during regular office hours to meet with you about specific questions you might have or just to chat. If you cannot meet during those hours, we will be happy to schedule appointments at other, mutually convenient, times. [IMPORTANT: Drop-ins are welcome. But if you have arranged a specific appointment and find that you cannot make it, please call or email to cancel; if you can't reach us directly by phone or e-mail, call the History Dept (x. 2210) to leave a message for either of us.] Of course, you are always free to contact us via e-mail; we both check our e-mail at least once a day, and almost always more often on weekdays.
PAPERS. There will be three short papers in this course. They are of varying lengths, and the due dates are January 29, February 26, and April 16. Topics are available on our website and will be discussed well in advance of due dates, as will general guidelines for writing papers. You'll have plenty of room for originality! We urge you to consult with either MST or SW while working on your papers, for assistance and feedback. You can be guaranteed that the person you consult (please: only one of us per assignment) will be the person who marks your paper.
TESTS. There will be two exams in this course. The midterm will be on March 5 (during the regular class time), and the final will be take-home and due by May 6. The final will stress material covered after the midterm, but at least one section will be cumulative. All questions will be in essay form, and the emphasis will be on your ability to integrate and analyze general themes and ideas (not on regurgitation of facts!). In virtually all cases, you will have a choice among questions to answer.
"WMSTORY". To facilitate discussion of course-related material and other relevant issues, an internet discussion group has been created for this course. All students are strongly encouraged to participate in WMSTORY--to pursue discussions begun in class, to raise questions brought to mind by either the readings or related current events, and to announce events of potential interest to class members. We will collect your e-mail addresses during the first days of class; once you receive a message that you're "on," you'll be able to participate by sending messages to: email@example.com . Please check your email regularly, as course-related announcements and links will be made via this medium.
WEBSITE: A special website has been created for this class. The URL is: http://classes.maxwell.syr.edu/wmstory The syllabus, paper topics, and several handouts and reading assignments (as well as the take-home final, at the end of the term) will be available only through this site, so students are encouraged to bookmark it and consult it regularly.
DEADLINES AND EXTENSIONS. To forestall problems and misunderstandings later on, here is the policy: Since you are receiving due dates and topics at the beginning of the term, it is assumed that you will plan accordingly, and will consider potential conflicts with other courses and extracurricular commitments. Therefore, extensions will be granted only in extraordinary or emergency circumstances, and (except in dire emergencies), only if specific circumstances are explained in advance to MST or SW. Grades on papers that are turned in after the beginning of class on the due date (without prior permission) will automatically be lowered at least one letter in grade (more, if tardiness is extended). NO unexcused late papers will be accepted more than one week after the original due date. Similarly, if you absolutely can't take the midterm on the scheduled date, please make arrangements with the professor well before its date. If you have an accident, or are suddenly ill, etc., and cannot make advance provision, you must present written explanation, signed by either physician or dean, as soon as you can. It is our hope that this covers all contingencies, and that it helps to have things in writing....
A NOTE ON ACADEMIC HONESTY. The Syracuse University Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit. Students should be familiar with the policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about instructor and general academic expectations with regard to proper citation of sources in written work. The policy also governs the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments as well as the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verifications of participation in class activities. Serious sanctions can and will result from academic dishonesty of any sort—almost always both failure in the course and a letter in your permanent file. For more information and the complete policy, see http://academicintegrity.syr.edu
DISABILITY-RELATED ACCOMMODATIONS. Students who are in need of disability-related academic accommodations must register with the Office of Disability Services (ODS), 804 University Avenue, Room 309, 315-443-4498. Students with authorized disability-related accommodations should provide a current Accommodation Authorization Letter from ODS to the instructor and review those accommodations with the instructor. Accommodations, such as exam administration, are not provided retroactively; therefore, planning for accommodations as early as possible is necessary. For further information, see the ODS website, Office of Disability Services: http://disabilityservices.syr.edu/
GRADES. The relative weight of each component of this course is as follows. In addition, class participation, improvement over time, and/or extraordinary performance (good or bad!) in one or more areas, will be considered—especially in borderline cases.
Paper I …………………………………. 10%
Paper II ………………………………... 20%
Paper III ……………………………….. 25%
Midterm ……………………………….. 20%
Take-Home Final …………………….. 25%
[Important: to access many of the hyperlinks below, particularly those from JSTOR, you must be logged into your SU internet account.]
TU 1/15 Introduction to the Course: What Is "Women's History"?
TH 1/17 Setting the Scene, I: Sex and Gender.
Readings—Linda K. Kerber, et al., “Gender & the New Women’s History” (Women’s
America, 1-23), also on our website here.
Gerda Lerner, Placing Women in History: Definitions and Challenges
TU 1/22 Setting the Scene, II: Beyond the Search for Sisterhood.
Readings—Nancy A. Hewitt, “Beyond the Search for Sisterhood: American Women’s
History in the 1980s” [Social History, 10:3 (1985): 299-321]
Gerda Lerner, “Differences Among Women”
TH 1/24 "Separate Spheres" and the Cult of Domesticity: American Women on the Eve of
Readings—Barbara Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood, 1820-1860” [American
Quarterly, 18:2 (1966), 151-74
Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, “The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations
between Women in Nineteenth-Century America” [Signs, 1:1 (1975), 1-
TU 1/29 FIRST PAPER DUE
The Rights of Women and the Problematic Matter of Voting
Readings—Judith Wellman, “The Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention: A Study
of Social Networks” [Journal of Women's History, 3:1 (1991), 9-37]
Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
TH 1/31 Women and the Civil War.
Readings—Drew Gilpin Faust, “Altars of Sacrifice: Confederate Women and the
Narratives of War” [Journal of American History, 76:4 (1990): 1200-28.]
Ellen Carol Dubois, “Outgrowing the Compact of the Fathers: Equal Rights,
Woman Suffrage, and the United States Constitution, 1820-1878”
[Journal of American History, 74:3 (1987): 836-62]
Thirteenth-Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution
TU 2/5 The Aftermath of War: Reconstruction and Women.
Readings—Tera W. Hunter, “Reconstruction and the Meanings of Freedom”
Letter by Frederick Douglass, 27 September 1868
TH 2/7 Industrialization and Women’s Work.
Readings—Women’s America, 349-368, 363-368.
TU 2/12 Migration, Immigration, and Changing Family Structure.
Readings—Women’s America, 368-378, 386-402.
Gilman, Herland, chaps. 1-6 (plus, if you have it, Barbara Solomon’s
TH 2/14 Progressivism and Social Housekeeping
Readings—Women’s America, 342-358, 402-419.
Gilman, Herland, chaps. 7-12.
TU 2/19 The Emergence of Modern Feminism.
Readings—Emma Goldman, “The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation”
Frances E.W. Harper, “Enlightened Womanhood”
Jane Addams, “Why Women Should Vote”
Jane Addams, “Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements”
TH 2/21 Suffrage—But at What Cost?
Readings—Women’s America, 420-440.
“Mrs. Decker on Women’s Suffrage“ (Colorado, 1904
Carrie Chapman Catt, “Woman Suffrage Is Inevitable“
Emma Goldman, “Woman’s Suffrage“
Martha Gruening, “Two Suffrage Movements“
TU 2/26 SECOND PAPER DUE
Journey to America—Three Stories.
Readings—Women’s America, 378-386.
Mary G. Siegel,“’Crossing the Bar’: A ‘She’ Lawyer in 1917.”
TH 2/28 The Aftermath of Suffrage.
Readings—Women’s America, 441-451.
TU 3/5 MIDTERM TEST.
TH 3/7 Sex and Sexuality in the 1920s: Both Ends Against the Middle.
Readings—Women’s America, 451-476.
[Suggestion:Take The Group with you over Spring Break—and start reading it!]
TU 3/19 Alternative Visions in a Multicultural America
Readings—Women’s America, 477-505.
McCarthy, The Group, chaps. 1-4.
Patricia Hampl, “You’re History”
TH 3/21 The “Great” (?) Depression.
Readings—Women’s America, 506-529.
McCarthy, The Group, chaps. 5-7.
TU 3/26 World War II” “We” Won—or Did “We”?
Readings—Women’s America, 530-553.
McCarthy, The Group, chaps. 8-11.
TH 3/28 The “Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter.”
Readings—“Do you Want your Wife to Work After the War?”
Women’s America, 553-565.
McCarthy, The Group, chaps. 12-15.
TU 4/3 “Happy Days” (?): The No-So-Quiet 1950s.
Readings—Women’s America, 575-576, 598-607, 664-671.
TH 4/4 The Feminine Mystique, or World of Our (Grand)Mothers.
Readings—Women’s America, 577-590.
Adlai Stevenson, “A Purpose for Modern Woman.”
Betty Friedan, Feminine Mystique, chapter 1.
Stephanie Koontz, A Strange Stirring (free online sample—instructions TBA)
TU 4/9 The "Emergence" of Modern Feminism.
Readings—Women’s America, 617-634, 660-663, 691-696, 701-703.
Douglas, Intro, chaps. 1-3
Equal Rights Amendment
Charles Payne, “Ella Baker and Models of Social Change”
Judy Syfers, “I Want a Wife,” online at:
Mary Daly, “After the Death of God the Father.”
Jesse Jackson, “Don’t Forget About Racism”
Naomi Weisstein, “Woman as Nigger”
TH 4/11 Abortion, Sexuality, and the Politics of Motherhood.
Readings—Women’s America, 607-616, 652-660, 721-734.
Douglas, chaps. 4-6.
Andrea Dworkin, Intro. to Pornography: Men Possessing Women
Anne, Koedt, “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm
TU 4/16 THIRD PAPER DUE.
Lesbianism, Identity, and Woman-Identified Women.
Readings—Women’s America, 696-701.
Douglas, chaps. 7-9.
Anne Koedt, “Lesbianism and Feminism“
Ella Thompson v. J.C. Aldredge, and LA v. Mary Young and Dawn LeBlanc
Betty Gittings, “Founding the New York Daughters of Bilitis“
Joan Nestle, “The Fem Question“
TH 4/18 The Personal is Political—Is Politics Enough?
Readings—Women’s America, 672-690, 704-718, 748-753.
Douglas, chap. 10 & Epilogue.
TU 4/23 The Personal is Global—American Women Transcend Boundaries.
Readings—Women’s America, 625-663, 734-745, 748-765, 777-780.
Irene Thompson, “Both Feet in the Door, One Toe at a Time”
Linda Bird Francke, “Women in the Gulf War”
TH 4/25 Is There REALLY a "Post-Feminist" America?
Readings—Women’s America, 670-704, 766-776.
Jane Sherron DeHart and Carolyn Herbst Lewis, “Thirty Years after Roe”
Violence Against Women Act
TU 4/30 Review—and To the Future.
Readings—Women’s America, 781-790.
NOTE: The final exam is take-home, and will be due on Monday, May 6, at 11 a.m.