Women in America, 1607 to the Present

History 229

Winter 2018

Sarah McNair Vosmeier


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Course Description
    Exploring the history of American women from the colonial era to the present provides both pleasure and practical benefits.   Getting to know women from America's past is as much fun as meeting an interesting new person or learning more about an old friend.  And, often, you learn about yourself as you get to know other people.  Reading, discussing, and writing about women's history also offers the practical benefits of all history courses: honing your ability to analyze and make arguments, helping you see connections between small details and the big picture, helping you understand change, and furthering your ability to understand other points of view.
    As we pursue women's history, we will also consider its meaning.   Is women's history the history of feminism?  Is it a chronology of female "firsts"?  Should women's history concentrate on those experiences (like childbearing) that are exclusive to women, or should it give equal attention to women's experience of national events like presidential elections and wars?  Should studying women alter the way we understand the larger story of America's history?

Calculating Final Grades
                Preparation & Participation    20%
                Primary Source Analysis    15%
                Book review            15%
                Midterm            23%
                Final                27%

Nota Bene

Our class time provides an opportunity, rare in modern life, to focus for an extended time on a single task and conversation.  Please do not multitask -- to avoid distraction for others and temptation for ourselves, we will not use laptops, tablets, cell phones, etc. in our classroom.

Late papers will be penalized, and in-class assignments cannot be made up.  Students with emergencies who wish to request an exception to this rule should contact me before the due date.

About Preparation, Participation, Papers, and Exams:

Preparation and Participation:
    Good discussion depends on everyone's preparing and participating fully.  People who excel in participation read carefully and come to class with effective reading notes; they make useful comments in class or ask helpful questions; and they adequately complete all the brief assignments, handing them in on time.  Occasional brief assignments -- such as marginalia checks or study guide contributions -- allow you to demonstrate careful preparation for class.   
    Two assignments included in this category allow you to teach your classmates and learn from them:  the Postwar Magazine Project (a written visual analysis) and the Article Presentation (an oral presentation of a scholarly article).

Primary Source Analysis: Students will make a historical argument, supported by evidence from primary sources.  This year we will be using the Rogers Family Papers in the Duggan Library Archives (1400-2500 words).

Book review: Students will concisely analyze a scholarly book on American women's history (600-1000 words).

Exams will include identification items and essay questions.

About items needed for this class
Our discussions will be based on close readings of texts, and you will need notes on the texts in the form of marginalia.  Thus, you should  budget appropriately for printing and photocopying in addition to the books you purchase.  (My class records show that the printing costs associated with marginalia pay off in significantly better grades.)

The following are available at the bookstore:
        Linda K. Kerber et al., eds., Women's America, 8th edition.
    Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers, 8th edition.
    Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi (1968)
    Jill Lepore, Book of Ages (2013)


Note that the excerpts of scholarly articles and monographs found in Kerber, De Hart, Dayton, and Wu's Women's America (identified below as KDDW) are cited here by their original titles.

Introduction to Women's History and Feminism.

Jan. 8, 2018 (Mon.)    Lecture: "Defining Women's History and Feminism."   For review:  Kerber et al., "Introduction," 2015 (KDDW 1-9).
Jan. 10, 2018 (Wed.)    Vosmeier, "On Marginalia," 2016 (online); Watson, "I am a Feminist," 2014 (video online); Offen, "Defining Feminism," 1988 (pp. 119-39, 150-57, online -- click the blue "download pdf" button, and then print the assigned pages).

Colonial and Revolutionary America
Jan. 12, 2018 (Fri.)    Lecture: "Colonial and Revolutionary America." Colonial laws relating to women, 1643-1705; Phillips, "Form of a Negro-Marriage," 1700s; patriotic broadside, 1780; Osborn deposition, 1837; Wells petition, 1786 (KDDW 84-86, 106-114).

Jan. 15, 2018 (Mon.)    Karlsen, excerpt from Devil in the Shape of a Woman, 1987 (KDDW 53-66).
Jan. 17, 2018 (Wed.)    Meet in Duggan Library: Archives Workshop.
Jan. 19, 2018 (Fri.)    Gordon-Reed, excerpt from The Hemingses of Monticello, 2008 (KDDW 97-105).

Jan. 22, 2018 (Mon.)    Lepore, Book of Ages, 2013 (pp. 19-75).
Jan. 24, 2018 (Wed.)    Meet in the Learning Center:  Use of Sources workshop. "Chicago Manual Footnote Style" (online); Hacker, ch. 51, 54.
Jan. 26, 2018 (Fri.)    Lepore, pp. 81-110, 114, 119-47.

Jan. 29, 2018 (Mon.)    Lepore, pp. 148-52, 157-58, 168-72, 178-206, 216-18, 221-27, 230-36, 245-49.

Antebellum and Civil War America
Jan. 31, 2018 (Wed.)    Lecture: "Antebellum and Civil War America."   Sarah and Angelina Grimke documents, 1830s;  Kendall letter, 1839; New York's Married Women's Property Acts, 1848, 1860 (KDDW 238-44, 250-51).
Feb. 2, 2018 (Fri.)    Smith-Rosenberg, excerpt from "The Female World of Love and Ritual," 1975 (KDDW 189-201).

Feb. 5, 2018 (Mon.)    Seneca Falls Declaration, 1848 (KDDW 247-50); Wellman, "The Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention," 1991 (online).

Reconstruction Era through the 1920s
Feb. 7, 2018 (Wed.)    Lecture: "Reconstruction Era through the 1920s.
" Childs affidavit, 1866; Fourteenth Amendment, 1868; Fifteenth Amendment, 1870; excerpt from Bradwell v Illinois, 1873; Anthony, excerpt from "Declaration of Rights for Women," 1876 (KDDW 288-89, 292-97). Muller v Oregon, 1908 (excerpt online); Adkins v Children's Hospital, 1923 (excerpt online).

Feb. 9, 2018 (Fri.)    Miller, "The Missionary Narrative as Coercive Interrogation," 2006 (online -- click on "pdf full text" to the left and print from there); Rogers Family Papers (selections online).

Feb. 12, 2018 (Mon.)    Seigel, "Winning the Vote in Fort Wayne, Indiana," 2006 (online). Excerpt from Minor v Happersett, 1874; excerpt from Mackenzie v Hare, 1915; Nineteenth Amendment, 1920 (KDDW 294-95, 413-17).  
Feb. 14, 2018 (Wed.)    Primary Source Analysis due.
Feb. 16, 2018 (Fri.)    Brumberg, excerpt from Fasting Girls, 1988 (KDDW 420-28).

Feb. 19, 2018 (Mon.)    Review.
Feb. 21, 2018 (Wed.)    Midterm.

Great Depression and World War II
Feb. 23, 2018 (Fri.)    Lecture: "Great Depression and World War II."

Winter Break

Mar. 5, 2018 (Mon.)    Helmbold, "Downward Occupational Mobility during the Great Depression," 1988 (online -- click on "pdf full text" to the left and print out).
Mar. 7, 2018 (Wed.)    Westbrook, "I Want a Girl, Just Like the Girl that Married Harry James," 1990 (online -- click on blue "download pdf" button and print out); Glamour Girls of 1943, 1943 (video online).
Mar. 9, 2018 (Fri.)    Matsumoto, excerpt from "Japanese American Women during World War II," 1984 (KDDW 530-36). Sone, primary sources, 1943-1979 (online).

Postwar America
Mar. 12, 2018 (Mon.)    Lecture: "Postwar America."

Mar. 14, 2018 (Wed.)    Postwar Magazine Project due.

Mar. 16, 2018 (Fri.)    Friedan, excerpt from Feminine Mystique, 1963 (KDDW 606-10); Meyerowitz, "Beyond the Feminine Mystique," 1993 ( online -- click "download PDF" to the right, and print out); sample book reviews: Keith, "Feminine Mystique -- Obsolete?" 1967 (Hanover College Triangle); May, review of Strange Stirring,, 2011 (Journal of American History); Jass, review of Strange Stirring,, 2012 (History: Reviews of New Books); McMurray, review of Strange Stirring,, 2013 (Journal of Social History).
(For America: History and Life, click on "PDF Full Text" to the left, and print out.)

Mar. 19, 2018 (Mon.)    Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi, 1968 (ch. 1, 10, 11, 13, part of 16 [pp. 184-88]).
Mar. 21, 2018 (Wed.)    Book review due.
Mar. 23, 2018 (Fri.)    Moody, ch. 20-23

Mar. 26, 2018 (Mon.)    Moody, ch. 24-26, 28, 30

Second Wave of Feminism and Beyond
Mar. 28, 2018 (Wed.)    Lecture:  "Second Wave of Feminism and Beyond."  Baxandall and Gordon, excerpt from Dear Sisters, 2000; Civil Rights Act of 1964;  Equal Rights Amendment," 1972-1982; excerpt from Frontiero v Richardson, 1973; excerpt from Meritor Savings Bank v Vinson, 1986 (KDDW 705-18, 745-47, 752-56).

Mar. 30, 2018 (Fri.)    Hanisch, excerpt from "Critique of the Miss America Protest," 1968; Chávez, excerpt from "Women of the Mexican American Movement," 1972; Schlafly, excerpt from The Power of the Positive Woman, 1977 (KDDW 731-35, 610-14).  "Women in the Movement," 1964 (online); Mainardi, "Politics of Housework," c1968 (online); Radicalesbians, "Woman-Identified Woman, 1970 (online).

Apr. 2, 2018 (Mon.)    Article Presentations.

Apr. 4, 2018 (Wed.)    Mohr, excerpt from Abortion in America, 1979;  Comstock Law, 1873; Roe v Wade, 1973; Weiss, "What Medical Students Learn," c.1975; Planned Parenthood v Casey, 1992 ; Kerber et al., "Recent Developments," 2015; (KDDW 202-12, 656-69).

Apr. 6, 2018 (Fri.)    "Title IX," 1972; Violence against Women Act, 1994 (KDDW 747-52, 756-58); Dominus, "Getting to 'No,'" 2014 (online); Jayna Zweiman, Krista Suh, and Kat Coyle, "The Pussyhat Project Knit Pattern," 2016 (online).

Apr. 9, 2018 (Mon.)    Excerpt from Loving v Virginia, 1967; excerpt from Griswold v Connecticut, 1965; Defense of Marriage Act, 1996  (KDDW 669-77). Obergefell v Hodges, 2015 (excerpt online).
Apr. 11, 2018 (Wed.)    Student selected assignment: Farrell-Beck and Kidd, “The Roles of Health Professionals in the Development and Dissemination of Women's Sanitary Products, 1880-1940,” 1996  (online -- click on blue "download pdf" button to the right).
Apr. 13, 2018 (Fri.)    Review