American Women/American Womanhood:

1870s to the Present


Prof. Rebecca Jo Plant

Winter 2010

T/TR 9:30-10:50 a.m.

Center Hall, 212

Course description 

This course examines the history of women in the United States from roughly 1870 to the present. We will explore the status and experiences of American women from a range of perspectives — social, cultural, political, economic and legal. A central concern will be the relationship between gender ideologies and divisions based on class and race within America society. Major areas of inquiry will include: strategies that women have employed to attain political influence and power; changing conceptions of women’s rights and duties as citizens; women’s roles as producers and consumers in an industrial and post-industrial economy; and attitudes and policies that have served to regulate female sexuality, reproduction and motherhood.

Contacting Prof. Plant

Phone: 534-8920
Office hours: Tuesdays, noon to 2 p.m., HSS 6016

Course Requirements:

The course requirements are as follows: two 3-4 page papers (25% each); the midterm (20%); and the final examination (30%).

The midterm will consist of a series of short answer questions. The final will have identifications, short answer questions, and two essay questions. Answers to the identifications should be roughly two sentences and should identify the person, event, or term and briefly explain its significance. Short answer questions require a paragraph-long response. Essay responses should be roughly five-paragraphs.

Policy regarding late papers: I will accept late papers without penalty only if an extension is requested by email at least seven days in advance of the due date. Otherwise, a letter grade will be deducted for each day beyond the due date.    

Grading scale:

97-100 A+
94-96 A
90-93 A-
87-89 B+
84-86 B
80-83 B-
77-79 C+
74-76 C
70-73 C-

Grading for this class will not be on a scale.

Academic integrity:

I take the issue of academic integrity very seriously, and I will report suspected cases of cheating or plagiarism. Indeed, as a UCSD professor, if I suspect evidence of cheating or plagiarism in my class, I am required by the Office of the Academic Integrity Coordinator to file a report. (See the “Instructors’ Responsibility” and “Students’ Responsibility” sections of the University’s Academic Integrity Statement.) Please do not make me take this step.

The problem of plagiarism has become more pervasive since the rise of the internet. Obviously, purchasing a paper or taking a paper (or any part of paper) off of a website violates the principles of academic integrity. But plagiarism is not limited to these flagrant examples. Any time you take a sentence, or even a phrase, from another person's work without using quotation marks and providing proper attribution, you are plagiarizing. When you write a paper, the best way to avoid plagiarism is to do all the necessary reading, including on-line reading, in advance. Once you begin to write, you should not go on-line again until the paper is done.

If you have any questions as to what is or is not plagiarism, please review the attached MLA statement. If you still have questions, please contact me.

Required Reading

Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart, eds., Women’s America: Refocusing the Past, 6th edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003

Jacqueline Jones Royster, ed., Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900, Boston: Bedford Books, 1997

Leisa Meyer, Creating GI Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps during World War II, New York: Columbia Press, 1996

Maxine Hong Kingston, Woman Warrior: Memories of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, New York: Vintage Books, 1989, orig. 1975

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Gender Ideology in the Gilded Age

January 5 Introductions

January 7 Overview: Women's Status and Gender Ideology in the Late 19th Century

Week 2: Women and Progressive Era Reform

January 12 Education and Labor

January 14 Race and Reform

Week 3: Women and Politics: The Fight for Suffrage and Its Aftermath

January 19 Feminism and the Suffrage Movement

January 21 Women's Politics in the 1920s

Week 4: Sexuality, Motherhood and Modernity: 1920s and 1930s

Paper #1 due in class or in my mailbox by 4 p.m., 6th floor HSS

January 26 The Birth Control Movement

January 28 The Rise of Consumer Culture

In class: View segment of Our Dancing Daughters

Week 5: The Depression, the New Deal, and Gender Roles

February 2 Familial Life and State Policies in the 1930s

February 4 MIDTERM

Week 6: World War II: A Watershed?

February 9 World War II and Gender Ideology

February 11 Mobilizing Womanpower

In class: View film, "The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter"

Week 7: The Cold War and Political Protest

February 16 Sexual Politics in Cold War America

February 18 Political Protest and Repression in the Cold War and Salt of the Earth

View segment of Salt of the Earth (in class)

Week 8: The Rebirth of Feminism in the 1960s and 1970s

February 23 Second Wave Feminism

February 25 Social Change and Women's Lives

Week 9: Progress and Reaction: Sexual Politics and the Workplace, 1970s-1990s

March 2 [Caught up]

March 4 The Rise of the New Right: The Backlash Against the ERA and Abortion Rights

Oral history project due in class or in my mailbox by 4 p.m., 6th floor HSS

Week 10: Unresolved Conflicts, Contemporary Issues

March 9 Women, Work, and Welfare

March 11 Women in the 21st Century: Final Reflections

March 16 8:00-11:00 FINAL