U.S. Women's History Website
(Scroll down for Syllabus)

Back to Home Page
To Assignments/Handouts

The June 10, 1692 hanging of Bridget Bishop (Salem, MA)


Phillis Wheatley, Poet


Our Friend Martha, out for a ride.

Our Friend Harriot out for a talk


UNI -- Fall 2013
US Women’s History
HISUS 4260/5260, Section 01, Tues & Thurs. 12:30-1:45 Seerley 212

Barbara Cutter
email: barbara.cutter@uni.edu
website: https://www.uni.edu/cutter

Course Description:

            This is a lecture and discussion course designed to introduce you to some major themes in U.S. women’s history from the Colonial Era to the present. The course has two main goals.  The first is to provide you with a grounding in U.S. women’s history, the chronology of events, facts, and developments that constitute the past of women in the United States.  The second is to address the question of whether the past is important for an understanding of the present.  To achieve this second goal, this course will not provide a simple chronology of events, but instead will explore transformations in ideas about womanhood in American society, and the relationship of beliefs about women to the everyday lives of American women.  That is, we will use our new knowledge of women’s history to shed light on women’s roles and women’s lives in present day American society.

Course Requirements:

Attendance: After four absences students risk failing the course.  This does not mean that you are “allowed” four absences before I start counting them against your grade.  If you need to miss a class, make arrangements to borrow all notes, hand-outs, and lecture outlines from one of your colleagues in the class.  Even if you tell me you are going to miss a class, you are still responsible for the material presented or discussed during the missed period.

Graded Work – and percentages this work will count toward final grades

1) Class Participation (showing up and taking part, somehow, in class discussion). [10%]

2) One Paper and Presentation on a Day’s Readings. [20%]

3) One Short (4-5 pp.) Paper on A Midwife’s Tale and associated readings - assignment will be handed out later in the semester. [25%]

4) Presentation and paper on primary source(s) of your choice: 10 minute class presentation and paper providing historical context for and gendered analysis of a primary historical source(s) (from any time period in US history) (5 pages) - assignment will be handed out later in the semester. [25%]

5) Final Take Home Exam. This will be an essay exam based on topics from the readings and the lectures.   Assignment will be handed out in class. [20%]

The content of papers, exams, and presentations will be discussed at length during the semester.  The criteria for grading papers and exams will include: accuracy, ability to deal with complex subjects in a complex manner, organization, and a willingness to explore new ideas and possibilities rather than simply showing or proving some point you already knew before taking the class.

Special Requirements for Graduate Students ONLY (undergraduates should ignore this section): Graduate students in the class will be expected to make two presentations on the day’s readings and write two papers on the readings. Their short papers must be 5-6 pages in length.

Note on UNI’s Academic Ethics/Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is defined by UNI policy as the “process of stealing or passing off as one’s own the ideas or words of another, or presenting as one’s own an idea or product which is derived from an existing source.”  All students are expected to be familiar with UNI’s plagiarism policy, which is located in the UNI Catalog of Courses, 2012-2014 under Academic Ethics Policies.   As the policy states, “The plea of ignorance … is not a compelling defense against allegations of plagiarism.  A college student, by the fact that s(he) holds that status, is expected to understand the distinction between proper scholarly use of others’ work and plagiarism.” [http://catalog.uni.edu/generalinformation/academicregulations/] Any student found committing plagiarism in this class is subject to disciplinary action.

Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA provides protection from discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities. Please address any special needs or special accommodations with me at the beginning of the semester or as soon as you become aware of your needs. Those seeking accommodations based on disabilities should obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form from Student Disability Services (SDS) (phone 319-273-2676).  SDS is located on the top floor of the Student Health Center, Room 103.

The following books are required and are available at the UNI Bookstore:

Linda Kerber, Jane Sherron De Hart, and Cornelia Dayton, eds., Women’s America: Refocusing the Past, 7th Edition, (New York: Oxford, 2011).

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale: the life of Martha Ballard based on her diary (Vintage, 1991)

Susan J. Douglas, The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took Us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild (New York: St. Martin’s, 2010)

Other readings: available electronically through Rod Library or in class handout

Tentative Schedule of Meetings, Readings and Topics

Aug 27: Introductions and Context

Assignment: Show up, Buy Books

Aug 29:  Gender as a Category of Historical Analysis
      Reading: Women’s America, 1-23 [Introduction].

Sept 3: Race, Class, Region and Women’s Roles in Colonial America
      Reading: Women’s America, 25-37; 47-60, & 90-102 [Sara Evans, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Carol Berkin articles and documents].

Sept 5: Women on the Margins in Colonial America
Reading: Women’s America, 61-89 & 103-116 [Norton, Karlsen & Little articles and documents].

Sept. 10: Martha Ballard’s World, or how do we put individual women into historical context?
Reading: A Midwife’s Tale (to page 133).

Sept. 12: Pregnancy, Marriage and Abortion in Colonial New England
Reading: A Midwife’s Tale, 134-161; and Cornelia Dayton “Taking the Trade” in Women’s America, 116-133.

Sept 17: A Changing Era: Martha Ballard, Women’s Work and Medicine
Reading: A Midwife’s Tale, 162-261. 

Sept 19: The Revolution, Equality and Republican Motherhood
Reading: Women’s America, 134-153 [Revolution Documents and Gordon-Reed and Kerber articles].  Discuss assignment.

Sept 24: New Ideals of Gender in Nineteenth Century America
Reading: Women’s America, 224-243, 264-268; [Fitzgerald and Zaeske articles and Claiming Rights I and II documents]

Sept 26 : New Ideals of Gender in Nineteenth Century America II
Reading: Women’s America, 205-214.  [Mohr article].

Oct 1 The Meaning of Womanhood in 19th century America: Sojourner Truth
Reading: Version 1 of Sojourner Truth’s speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, 1851 (from Anti-Slavery Bugle, 21 June 1851); and Version 2 of Sojourner Truth’s speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, 1851 (written in 1863) [class handout]; and Women’s America “Photograph of Sojourner Truth,”  269-271.
Midwife’s Tale Paper Due (assignment will be handed out in class).

Oct 3 Gender, Race, Violence and Imperialism
Reading: Women’s America, 283-294 [Faust article], and Barbara Cutter, “The Female Indian Killer Memorialized: Hannah Duston and the nineteenth-century feminization of American Violence,” Journal of Women’s History (Summer 2008), Vol 20,
  No. 2: 10-33.  Available online through Rod Library-ProjectMuse website. [http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/detail?vid=2&sid=4bf44df5-49ed-4b6f-abe1-d01b84ed0c49%40sessionmgr15&hid=15&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=edswah&AN=000256630900002]

Oct. 8: Late 19th early 20th Century Women and Political Activism
Reading: Women’s America, 349-355; 368-378; 402-419. [Schechter, Gilmore, and Sklar articles and documents].

Oct. 10: New Women, New Bodies: Women, Hiking and Gender Equality

Reading: Mrs. W.G. Nowell, “A Mountain Suit for Women” Appalachia (June 1877) Volume 1, no. 3: 181-183.  Online at google books:
and Samuel H. Scudder, “The Alpine Club of Williamstown” Appalachia (December 1884) Volume 4, no. 1: 45-54.  Online at google books: http://books.google.com/books?id=jI9IAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=alpine+club+of+williamstown&source=bl&ots=VS2WYwVhAj&sig=x-FiL1Bu30N36LvITa4Bbt-ZQ38&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gzIVUsuZEomy2QWP7IGwDg&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=alpine%20club%20of%20williamstown&f=false

Oct. 15: Traditional Women and ‘New’ Women and Women’s Rights
Reading: Women’s America, 420-450. [DuBois & Cott articles and documents].

Oct. 17: 19th Century Women in 21st Century Popular Culture

Watch “Not For Ourselves Alone” (Selection) & discuss video.

Oct. 22: Sexuality, Race, and Changing Ideals of Gender

Reading: Women’s America, 189-204 and 272-282; [Smith-Rosenberg and Stremlau articles].

Oct 24: Sexuality, Race, and Changing Ideals of Gender II
      Reading: Women’s America, 477-484; and 591-606 [Ruiz, Freedman and Cahn articles].

Oct 29: The New Woman in Popular Culture
Movie: It (1927).

Oct 31: The New Woman in Popular Culture (cont.)
      Discussion of Movie.
Presentation/Paper Topics due (Assignment will be handed out in class).

 Nov. 5: Gender and Work in The Depression and World War II
Reading: Women’s America, 506-518 and 553-574 [Reagan, Jones, and Milkman articles and documents].

Nov. 7: Cold War, Civil Rights, the “Feminine Mystique” & the Origins of Modern Feminism
Reading: 1) Women’s America, 577-590; 617-630; 635-651; and 652-659 [Horowitz, Swerdlow and Bailey articles & documents].

Nov. 12: Feminism in the 1970s-1980s
Women’s America, 672-747 [De Hart article & documents].

 Nov 14:  From the 1990s to Today: Women, Gender and The Mass Media
Reading: Susan Douglas, The Rise of Enlightened Sexism, pp. 1-153.

Nov. 19: From the 1990s to Today: Women, Gender and The Mass Media (Cont.)
Reading: Douglas, Rise of Enlightened Sexism, pp. 154-213.

Nov. 21: Feminism and the New Right
Reading: Douglas, Rise of Enlightened Sexism, pp. 214-306.

Nov 26 & 28: Thanksgiving week – no class!

Dec 3: Presentations

Dec. 5: Presentations

Dec. 10: Presentations

Dec. 12: Presentations

Presentation Papers due Thursday Dec 12 in class.

Final Take Home Examination Due: Thursday Dec. 19 at 4:00 pm in my office, 336 Seerley.