Purpose of the Course
Gender is an important component of historical analysis. A separate examination of the female experience not only enables us to preserve the distinct contributions of women to the American heritage, but it also forces us to reexamine the ways in which gender intersects with race, class, ethnicity, and region in explaining political, economic, and social developments in the United States.
Woloch, Women and the American Experience: A Concise History
Cott, Root of Bitterness: Documents of the Social History of American Women
Pinckney, The Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney 1739-1762
Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol
Litoff and Smith, American Women in a World at War: Contemporary Accounts from WW II
Materials from web sites as indicated
Handouts as provided
Reading assignments should be completed on the date indicated for discussion in the syllabus.
Each student will be required to keep a portfolio which contains critiques of the readings, discussions, and films. Portfolio entries should be typed and kept in a loose leaf binder so that they may be individually collected and graded. The portfolio notebook should be divided into three parts: 1) Primary source summaries of each assigned document in Cott; 2) Critical reviews of Pinckney, Painter, and Litoff and Smith; 3) Class work (lecture and discussion notes, class worksheets). You may use your portfolios for examinations; thus, it is to your benefit to have current and thorough entries. See Portfolio Worksheet for details.
Primary source summaries and critical reviews are due at the beginning of class.
Tests and Examinations
There will be a midterm examination and a comprehensive final. Questions will be both short answer (multiple-choice, fill-in, true-false) and essay. A medical excuse and/or note from the Dean of Graduate Studies will be required to make up examinations.
Class Participation and Discussion
Much of the historical material on women is very provocative, and you will want to discuss the individuals and ideas introduced in the readings. You cannot do this if you are a) absent, b) asleep, or c) unprepared. Both the quality and the quantity of your remarks will be considered when computing class participation grades (i.e., you do not get "points" for talking on a subject when you have not read the assignment). Discussion leaders will be chosen for each reading, but everyone is expected to have read all class materials carefully and critically.
Please feel free to ask questions in class or by e-mail or to come by my office any time. This is my speciality -- I love talking about it!
Final grades will be calculated by adding the weighted scores on the portfolio (40 percent); midterm exam (20 percent); class participation and attendance (20 percent); and final examination (20 percent).
The following grading scale will be used: 90 - 100 = A; 86 - 89 = B+;
80 - 85 = B; 76 - 79 = C+; 70 - 75 = C; 60 - 69 = D; 0 - 59 = F.
Topics and Readings
Topics: Course Introduction; Gender as a Historical Construct;
Native American Women
Readings: Cott 36-41; Woloch 16-21
Topics: The British Heritage; Women and the Law
Readings: Woloch 1-16, 21-31, 34-49; Cott 3-35, 42-46;
Sep 8 Film: A Midwife's Tale
Topics: The American Revolution and New Republic; Women's Nature and
Sphere: The Ideal and the Real
Readings: Cott 49-109, 118-66; Woloch 49-63, 67-93
Topics: Westward Expansion; Midterm Examination
Readings: Cott 177-97, 224-29, 347-52; Woloch 93-99, 224-35
Oct 6 Topics: Slavery and Women; Women and Reform; film: Rebel Hearts
Readings: Cott 113-17, 167-73, 239-61, 198-203, 208-12; Woloch 104-33
Oct 13 Discuss: Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol
Readings: Painter 3-348
Critical review due
Oct 20 Topics: The Civil War and Its Aftermath; Film: Women in American Life;
Immigrants, Cities and Working Girls
Readings: Cott 268-90, 367-71, 204-07, 213-23, 353-63; Woloch 136-63
Topics: Health, Medicine, and Sexuality; Rise of the New Woman
Readings: Cott 293-343, 399-440; Woloch 168-99
Nov 3 FALL BREAK
Topics: Women's Suffrage; Film: One Woman, One Vote; Women's
Readings: Woloch 205-37; handout on education
Topics: Depression and War; Discuss American Life Histories
Woloch 241-75, 281-315
Nov 24 Discuss: American Women in a World at War
Readings: Litoff and Smith xi-232
Critical review due
Dec 1 Topics: Women and Social Protest; Feminism Since the Seventies
Readings: Woloch, 362-91
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