My Beautiful Wickedness

Anyone want to take a survey US women’s history course with me?
August 10, 2007, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m doing a distance-learning IS with a student in California and I put together a syllabus and all…strikes me that it was a shitload of work for only one person to profit from it. Here’s the reading list and the dates I’ve assigned for reading the stuff. If there’s any interest, I’d be happy to make my blog the discussion site for the readings, as I’m going to be doing the reading anyhow. And, of course, if you want college credit, you gotta enroll at my college. Otherwise, I’m willing to just discuss this stuff for free.

Just let me know if you’re in — books are available through ILL or used through Amazon/BN/Powell’s/Alibris/


Dubois and Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes (survey text)
Block, Sharon. Rape and Sexual Power in Early America
Chavez-Garcia, Negotiating Conquest: Gender and Power in California, 1770s to 1880s
Schwalm, Leslie, A Hard Fight for We: Women’s Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina
Glenda Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow
Rickie Solinger, Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America
Ruth Rosen. The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America.
Ellen Nakano Glen, Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor
Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

Reading assignments and due dates

Week of August 27th – Dumenil and Dubois, ch 1; Sharon Block, chs 1-3

Week of September 3rd – Finish Sharon Block

Week of September 10th – Dumenil and Dubois, ch 2; Chavez-Garcia, first half

Week of September 17th – Finish Chavez-Garcia

Week of September 24th – Dumenil and Dubois, ch 3 and 4; Leslie Schwalm, first half

Week of October 1 – Finish Leslie Schwalm

Week of October 8th – Dumenil and Dubois, ch 5; Glenda Gilmore, first half

Week of October 15th – Dumenil and Dubois, ch 6, 7; Finish Glenda Gilmore

Week of October 22 – Dumenil and Dubois, ch 8; Rickie Solinger, first half

Week of October 29 – Dumenil and Dubois, ch 9; finish Rickie Solinger

Week of November 5 – Dumenil and Dubois, ch 10; Ruth Rosen, first half

Week of November 12 – Ruth Rosen, finish

Week of November 19 – Ellen Nakano Glenn, first half

Week of November 26th – Ellen Nakano Glenn, finish

Week of December 3rd – Mae Ngai, First half

Week of December 10th — Mae Ngai, second half


18 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Looks great! I’m teaching an online history course myself this semester, or I’d join you. But I blogged about Dumenil and Dubois for the first Blogging against Disablism Day in 2006:

Comment by Penny

Yep, I agree. In a reasonably strong textbook, that’s a terrible blind spot. I gave some thought to swapping out Gilmore’s Gender and Jim Crow for Kim Neilsen’s Radical Lives of Helen Keller (in the classroom version, students do read Kim’s book) but the student in question already has a reasonably good disability history exposure (she’s taken John’s class and has taken disability-related coursework as part of her ed certification). Where the student was really weak was on 20th century and the history of race — which, considering that she’s going to be working in Orange County, seemed to me to be a personal and professional liability. So the syllabus was personalized for her because this is her final class at the College and I’m trying to make it stretch to give her just a little bit of everything she hasn’t had yet.

I have to admit that the my go-to list of “plug-in” titles for women’s/gender history and disability is pretty short. What are some of your favorites?

Comment by bridgett

Oh, and I forgot to say that I really do appreciate the H-Dis monthly updates — many of the articles especially are in journals that my library doesn’t get, so it would be unlikely that I’d learn of their existence otherwise. (It took me a little bit to figure out that the Penny at imfunnytoo’s was the same Penny of H-Dis…)

Comment by bridgett

May I sit quietly in the back of the online room and listen in?

Comment by listie

Ha! Yeah, I’m the same Penny. But I’m not the Penny Richards who does French women’s history, and I’m definitely not the Penny Richards who writes romance novels like “The Ranger and the Schoolmarm.”

Which Orange County?

It’s great that you can tailor the class for the student’s individual needs–makes a lot of sense. I’m teaching US disability history this semester (online), and I try to include a lot of women and disability stuff, because, well, it’s what interests me: I have an article on witchcraft and madness in early New England, a week on 19c. “invalid women,” a week on eugenics and sterilization (mostly about women), a week on post WWII parent activism (they read Susan Schwartzenberg’s _Becoming Citizens: Family Life and the Politics of Disability_, which is about a group of mothers)….

Some sample readings from the syllabus:

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Derangement in the Family: The Story of Mary Sewall, 1824-25,” _Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings_ 15(1990): 168-184.

Myra Samuels Himelhoch and Arthur H. Shaffer, “Elizabeth Packard: Nineteenth-Century Crusader for the Rights of Mental Patients,” _American Studies_ 13(3)(1979): 343-375.

Peter McCandless, “A Female Malady? Women and the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum, 1828-1915,” _Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences_ 54(4)(October 1999): 543-571.

Johanna Schoen, “Between Choice and Coercion: Women and the Politics of Sterilization in North Carolina, 1929-1975,” _Journal of Women’s History_ 12(1)(Spring 2001): 132-136.

[There are so many good gender-conscious articles about eugenics, it’s hard to choose!]

Katherine Castles, “‘Nice, Average Americans’: Postwar Parents’ Groups and the Defense of the Normal Family,” in Steven Noll and James W. Trent, eds., _Mental Retardation in America: A Historical Reader_ (NYU Press 2004): 351-370.

The course isn’t exclusively about cognitive/mental disabilities, btw, but the weeks on “War and Disabled Veterans,” “Eugenics, Race, and Immigration,” “Workplace Safety and Unions” and “ADA” don’t have so many women’s history readings. And some of the above readings are a bit older, because the last time I really taught a version of this course was in 1997. But as you know, I do try to keep up with the literature… 😉 I’ll probably have some new favorites after I teach a new batch of readings.

Comment by Penny

Re: the tailoring — it helps that I’m her advisor and have been very involved in her academic development. It is also true that I somewhat have her over a barrel, though neither of us has said as much to each other. She needs one more course to graduate. She needed a class created in my field in roughly the next 18 hours or she would lose her financial aid for next semester. So I took a look at what she’d taken and what she had avoided and riffled through my syllabi and started quickly shaping. She’s motivated and not hostile to the subject, but it wasn’t as though she approached me with a “it’s always been my fondest wish to learn how race and gender intersect in American culture, society, and law…”

Did you know that one of my Iowa colleagues, Angie Keysor, is working on/wrapping up a new dissertation on women and madness in colonial New England? Another, Yvonne Pitts, just got a job at Purdue. Her dissertation “‘Imposing Their Wills: Inheritance Practices, Family, and Capacity in Nineteenth Century Kentucky” is really terrific. And John’s revising his manuscript on masculinity and disability in the rail trades — labor historians have definitely been receptive to the insights of the field. So I think that a lot of stuff (especially on gender, disability and law) is coming through — especially from Hawkeyes. (Thanks Doug!)

Comment by bridgett

Listie, you know you’re always welcome.

Comment by bridgett

I would love to take an online class, if I could find ways to get around my principle barrier (inability to turn the pages of books) by using audio or online texts. I had to drop out of college with 90-odd credits (short version) because I became too sick and weak to continue battling the anti-Nick environment I’m living in. Now I’m in a very extended regrouping phase….

Comment by Nick Dupree

Nick, let me give that some thought and see if I can scout up some e-book versions of the texts involved. In the interim, I hope you’re crazy-happy about the ACLS taking over the Humanities e-book project; I know I am.

Comment by bridgett

Hey Nick, when I teach an online course, most of the readings are online journal articles, so there’s no paper page-turning (unless students print out the articles onto paper, of course). Then the big access problem is that they’re usually behind firewalls, accessible only to folks with university computer accounts.

Aha, now I know which “John” you mean, Bridgett. (Yes, the week on “Workplace Safety and Unions” has a lot on masculinity, including the chapter in _New Disability History_.) And thanks for the tips on new dissertations–I’ll make sure they’re added to the lists of such things that I maintain. The Pitts one sounds cool, and I might not have caught it in my searches, so special thanks for that.

Comment by Penny

I know that both Pat Reeve and Sarah Rose are working on industrial safety and the gendering of disability. I’m pretty sure that Pat’s work is explicitly about women rather than the “unmanning of the manly man” (help! It’s a crisis of masculinity!) but hey — working on it. Both John and I are on the program committee for the Labor and Working-Class History Society for the next couple of years and we are putting out the welcome mat for any panels at any historical conference that deal with some combo of labor, class, and disability in historical perspective. Likewise, the editor of Labor History is eager to see and develop disability history mss. By the next time you teach this course, it’s my hope that you’ll have a lot more to choose from during that week.

As it is, the works that spring to mind first about occupational safety and women are stuff like Claudia Clark’s Radium Girls…and I think the lack of a chronological narrative on that one in particular might make it a hard go. But as you know, much of the early case law about women and work leading up to a case like Mueller v Oregon was couched in occupational safety terms. Have you looked at the early bakers’ lung cases? I also am guessing that someone would have written something in the vein of “dying for beauty” about occupational asthma in beauticians. That’s one thing that makes this field so exciting to work in — so much to be done.

Comment by bridgett

Count me in–not for credit as I’m more horrid than ever about deadlines…but I’ll be reading writing and discussing right on time….

imfunny2 the lapsed historian and lapsed law student…

Comment by imfunny2

oy…I see my college deleted me and I can’t access the journals…how depressing…. 😦

Comment by Nick Dupree

wow, I had never seen This is great!

Comment by Nick Dupree

argh, it won’t let me access it though…. 😦

Comment by Nick Dupree

I think that joining an ACLS member would probably get you access (like joining the AHA to get access to the History Cooperative). You might also want to work your connections at your old college (or through your mom?) to ask for what is called “academic courtesy” to get your e-mail account restored. (Basically, it amounts to a digital library card so that you can study on your own. UI used to do it for people who were between jobs or who were visiting in Iowa City for a while etc..)

Any chance that my Vandy readers could hook a brother up?

Comment by bridgett

Where the student was really weak was on 20th century and the history of race — which, considering that she’s going to be working in Orange County, seemed to me to be a personal and professional liability.

Given that, I’d make sure she gets at least a chapter from Suburban Warriors, Lisa McGirr’s book that covers grassroots conservative women’s activism in Orange County.

Comment by srl

Good idea! I think either ch 4 or ch 6 would work. In doing an IS, she’s going to miss the big lecture on post-WWII conservatism, so we’ll have to talk about that during our phone conversations.

Comment by bridgett

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