Women in America, 1607 to the Present

History 229

Winter 2020

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?
   This year is the hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, and we will mark the occasion by working together to uncover how Hanover students and people living nearby experienced the first wave of the woman's movement.

Calculating Final Grades
                Preparation & Participation    20%
                Suffrage essay                        15%
                Article 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.  
    Three assignments included in this category facilitate our working together and learning from each other: archival research preliminary to the suffrage essay, the Postwar Magazine Project (a written visual analysis), and the Article Presentation (an oral presentation of a scholarly article).

Article review: Students will concisely analyze a scholarly article relevant to the local experience of the woman's movement (600-1000 words).

Suffrage Essay: Students will make a historical argument about the local experience of the woman's movement, supported by evidence from primary and secondary sources (1400-2500 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.
    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. 6, 2020 (Mon.)
   Lecture: "Defining Women's History and Feminism."
    For review:  Kerber et al., "Introduction," 2015 (KDDW 1-9).

Jan. 8, 2020 (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. 10, 2020 (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. 13, 2020 (Mon.)
     Brown, "Anglo-Algoquian Gender Frontier" (KDDW 12-23).
Jan. 15, 2020 (Wed.)
     Meet in Duggan Library Archives.  Archives Workshop.
Jan. 17, 2020 (Fri.)
     Karlsen, Devil in the Shape of a Woman, 1987 (KDDW 53-66).

Jan. 20, 2020 (Mon.)
     Meet in the Learning Center.  "Chicago Manual Footnote Style" (online); Hacker, Rules for Writers, ch. 51, 54.
Jan. 22, 2020 (Wed.)
     Lepore, Book of Ages, 2013 (pp. xi-xiv, 19-75).
Jan. 24, 2020 (Fri.)
     Lepore, pp. 81-110, 114, 119-47.

Jan. 27, 2020 (Mon.)
     Gordon-Reed, excerpt from The Hemingses of Monticello, 2008 (KDDW 97-105).
Jan. 29, 2020 (Wed.)
     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, 2020 (Fri.)
     Lecture: "Antebellum and Civil War America."  
            Kendall letter, 1839; New York's Married Women's Property Acts, 1848, 1860 (KDDW 242-44, 250-51); local primary sources, 1850s-1860s (online).

Feb. 3, 2020 (Mon.)
     Smith-Rosenberg, "The Female World of Love and Ritual," 1975 (KDDW 189-201).
Feb. 5, 2020 (Wed.)
     Seneca Falls Declaration, 1848 (KDDW 247-50); Wellman, "The Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention," 1991 (online).

Reconstruction Era through the 1920s
Feb. 7, 2020 (Fri.)
     Lecture: "Reconstruction Era through the 1920s."
            Childs affidavit, 1866; Fourteenth Amendment, 1868; Fifteenth Amendment, 1870; Bradwell v Illinois, 1873; (KDDW 288-89, 292-95).

Feb. 10, 2020 (Mon.)
     Local primary sources, 1860s-1920 (online); Muller v Oregon, 1908 (excerpt online); Adkins v Children's Hospital, 1923 (excerpt online); sample book reviews of Karlsen's Devil in the Shape of a Woman: by Richard P. Gildrie in the American Historical Review and by Paul Boyer in the Journal of American History (for these, click on "PDF Full Text" to the left and print out), also by Roger Thompson in the Journal of American Studies and by Daniel Scott Smith in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (for these, click on the blue "Download PDF" to the right). 
Feb. 12, 2020 (Wed.)
     Seigel, "Winning the Vote in Fort Wayne, Indiana," 2006 (online -- click on "pdf full text to the left and print out)Minor v Happersett, 1874; Mackenzie v Hare, 1915; Nineteenth Amendment, 1920 (KDDW 294-95, 413-17). 
Feb. 14, 2020 (Fri.)
     Lecture and workshop:  "Women and Textiles."
            Article review due.

Feb. 17, 2020 (Mon.)
     Brumberg, excerpt from Fasting Girls, 1988 (KDDW 420-28).
Feb. 19, 2020 (Wed.)
Feb. 21, 2020 (Fri.)

Winter Break

Great Depression and World War II
Mar. 2, 2020 (Mon.)
     Lecture: "Great Depression and World War II."
Mar. 4, 2020 (Wed.)
     Helmbold, "Downward Occupational Mobility during the Great Depression," 1988 (online -- click on "PDF full text" to the left and print out).
Mar. 6, 2020 (Fri.)
     Westbrook, "I Want a Girl, Just Like the Girl that Married Harry James," 1990 (online -- click on "Download PDF to the right and print out); Glamour Girls of 1943, 1943 (video online).

Mar. 9, 2020 (Mon.)
     Matsumoto, excerpt from "Japanese American Women during World War II," 1984 (KDDW 530-36); Sone, primary sources, 1943-1979 (online).

Postwar America
Mar. 11, 2020 (Wed.)
     Lecture: "Postwar America."
Mar. 13, 2020 (Fri.)
     Postwar Magazine Project due.

Mar. 16, 2020 (Mon.)   
    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; Frontiero v Richardson, 1973; Meritor Savings Bank v Vinson, 1986 (KDDW 705-18, 745-47, 752-56).

Remaining Schedule to be announced.

Friedan, excerpt from Feminine Mystique, 1963 (KDDW 606-10); Meyerowitz, "Beyond the Feminine Mystique," 1993 (online -- click on "Download PDF to the right and print out).

Second Wave of Feminism and Beyond
Mar. 18, 2020 (Wed.)

Mar. 20, 2020 (Fri.)
    Local primary sources (online).

Mar. 23, 2020 (Mon.)
    Essay due.
Mar. 25, 2020 (Wed.)
    Ford, "SNCC Women Women, Denim, and the Politics of Dress," 2013 (online -- click on the red "PDF Full Text" to the left and print out).
Mar. 27, 2020 (Fri.)
    Hanisch, excerpt of "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).

Mar. 30, 2020 (Mon.)
    Article Presentations.
Apr. 1, 2020 (Wed.)
    "Title IX," 1972; Violence against Women Act, 1994 (KDDW 747-52, 756-58); Dominus, "Getting to 'No,'" 2014 (online); additional assignment  t.b.a.
Apr. 3, 2020 (Fri.)
    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, 2020 (Mon.)
    Loving v Virginia, 1967; Griswold v Connecticut, 1965; Defense of Marriage Act, 1996  (KDDW 669-77). Obergefell v Hodges, 2015 (excerpt online); additional assignment t.b.a.
Apr. 8, 2020 (Wed.)
    Student selected assignment, t.b.a.
Apr. 10, 2020 (Fri.)