Thursday, April 9, 2009

Okay - so I struggle and realized the last day for commenting was yesterday... this is my attempt at getting those 5 points. :D I've already posted but I saw that no one posted for Wednesday's reading so I thought I'd go ahead and even if I'm too late for points at least it might help someone get ready for the final.

I think Tong's article definitely goes under Feminism. The whole article describes the way third-wave feminism is taking a completely unique shape from the previous feminist movements. Tong categorizes first-wave feminism as the women's suffrage movement and second-wave feminism as being started and continued through the Civil Rights movement. Third-wave feminism however, is different because there is no real definition. Tong declares that "third-wave feminists are more than willing to accommodate diversity and change." She continues that "for third-wave feminists, difference is the way things are." This may be the stand third-wave feminists want to take but how can you take a stand for something that is not defined? I think one of the major problems for third-wave feminists is society's emphasis on being politically correct. If anyone wants a cause to become truly successful they must be careful not to offend anyone or any group of people. If people become offended the cause is most likely to go downhill fast because of all the bad press that will follow. For example, many people argued that the problem with earlier feminist movements was that they only applied to middle and upper-class white women. Particularly in the United States black women felt the so-called feminist cause did not relate to their needs or wants at all. Third-wave feminists in trying to combat and correct that problem have come to the solution that there is no exact definition of feminism and therefore women of all backgrounds can relate to and become a part of the movement. In my thinking this leaves a question for which I do not know the best solution. Is it more effective and productive to strictly or even at least loosely define the cause for which you stand in an effort to gain support of people who believe the same things you do? Or is it better not to define the reason for which you are trying to bring about change in hopes that more people will be enticed to join a cause that they can easily become a part of? I think this is the crossroads third-wave feminism has encountered and they are currently venturing down the path of the latter option. I guess only time will tell whether or not it is an effective decision.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Modern Woman

Lynn Abrams's chapter on First-Wave feminism recounts the origins and breadth of this movement, which resulted in improvements in education (ability to attend the university), access to the professions, greater legal recognitions of women's rights within marriage and a nearly universal suffrage in Europe and the United States of America. This chapter fits squarely under the theme of feminism, but also relates to virtually all other themes except religion.

Abrams claims that the real impetus for First-Wave feminism was purely economic and political. I think she too strongly asserts this since each of these have more remote causes based in more fundamental areas such as culture, ideas and patterns of behavior. She actually seems to side with culture when later writing that "it was when 'the crust of patriarchy' began to crack from 1848 onwards" that organized feminism came about. Early feminists organized themselves through the release of statements (like the Quaker women's Declaration of Sentiment), political lobbying and protests. This process in turn assured greater women's rights as the women involved increased in oratory and written skill. They were successful in creating their own language and platform, from which they could activize on their own terms. Abrams also focuses on the relationship between socialism and First-Wave feminism, which was fruitful, but also split the feminist cause along class lines.

Masculinity in the British Empire

This chapter focuses on how conceptions of masculinity drove British imperialism in the period from 1880-1900. Professor Tosh asserts that "empire was man's business" in a literal sense. This is true in two ways. First, empire's "acquisition and control depended disproportionately on the energy and ruthlessness of me," and second, "its place in the popular imagination was mediated through literary and visual images which consistently emphasized positive male attributes." Since the chapter uses many examples of the effects of the man-making empire on labor patterns and also class considerations, I include this reading under the themes of gender, categories of difference (certain classes were more affected by the imperial propaganda program), and employment and work.

The author himself is not guilty of being caught up in the glorification of either empire or masculinity. He in fact seeks to undermine the role of increased masculinization by claiming that this last flourish of British ultra-masculinity was actually a symptom of weakness. While Britain--except between the years 1899-1902--was not at war during this period, they saw their international holdings as increasingly threatened by a hostile international environment. The saber-rattling and rhetoric about the need to defend the empire was therefore subsequent to fears about the instability of the empire.

I do not necessarily agree with Tosh on this point. The correlation of Britain's relative decline and increased masculine rhetoric is interesting, but it is difficult to establish causation here. During the allied bombings of Germany in WWII, German production in war materials actually doubled as the people became more resolved to survive, more angry, etc. For late 19th century British men, increased international competition from Germany, France and Belgium may well have initiated more "struggle, duty, action, will and 'character.'" Whether an increase in these traits results in greater masculinity is a matter of semantics.

Image: The Colonization of Africa.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Middle-Class" Domesticity Goes Public: Gender, Class, and Politics from Queen Caroline to Queen Victoria

Dror Wahrman traces the political treatment of the middle class of England through the decades of the 1820s and 1830s. As the title denotes, the main development he is tracing is the incorporation of women and the domestic into the political conception of the middle class. The brunt of his argument is found in one of the concluding sentences of the article which reads: “The picture of the ‘middle class’ as the epitome of hearth and home, in sum, should be viewed not as a straightforward snapshot of essential social practice but, rather, as a charged and contingent historical invention.”

Wahrman’s article opens on comparing two statements made by novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The first statement, contained in an 1831 essay, establishes a clear dichotomy between public and private, leaving public opinion to men and fashion to women. However, two years after that statement was published Bulwer-Lytton again discussed public opinion and fashion but did not divide relegate the categories to men and women respectively; rather, the categories were relegated to the middle class and aristocracy, respectively. Wahrman suggests that the difference in texts is not coincidental but reflects that the categories “middle class,” “public,” “private,” “masculine” and “feminine,” “invoked changing ranges of meanings and . . . carried different stakes at different moments.”

The trial of public opinion surrounding the episode of Queen Caroline in the 1820s asserted the opinion of the “middle class” was altogether male. The instance of women engaging in the public discourse surrounding Queen Caroline contained in the article was an address to the queen which was printed in the Examiner and the women are excessively meek in their writing saying at one point, “We are unaccustomed to public acts.” However, Caroline was considered “a woman’s cause” as “women acted as defenders of familial values and communal morality.” Nevertheless, at this time women were not considered part of the middle class voice speaking out against the injustice facing Caroline.

The rhetoric used to discuss the middle class changed with the passage of The Reform Bill of 1832, although there is some debate as to whether or not some social change on a longue duree level had not occurred earlier. Nonetheless, the middle class began to be associated with familial values, particularly with religious devotion and soberness, all which placed increased emphasis on the domestic—traditionally the woman’s realm. Wahrman evokes Joan Scott in his discussion quoting from her “Gender: A Useful Category of Analysis” the following phrase: “the concept of class in the nineteenth century relied on gender for its articulation.” Wahrman’s article and his tracing of notions of what defines middle classness reflects the validity of Scott’s statement.

Thematic Categories: Categories of Difference (Middle Class vs. Aristocracy—something I didn’t mention much, but very explicit in the discussion of Queen Caroline), Gender, Marriage and Family, Feminism (discussion of Mary Wollstonecraft, William Thompson, among other feminist writers)

Monday, March 16, 2009

1848 and European Feminism

In the 1860s, according to Karen Offen, the "fissures in the crust of patriarchy" split open as the "molten lava of feminist protest against women's subordination" flowed outward. This volcanic change occurred despite the fact that during the 1850s "counterrevolutionary forces . . . brutally suppressed feminist activism in most societies" (European Feminisms, 109).

This raises questions about why "the woman question" was perceived as so dangerous to mid-century governments.

Offen also asserts that women's participation in and impact upon 1848 has been "incompletely understood." She states that one reason for this might be because "it seemed too disruptive to historians preoccupied by a male-centered political agenda" (Offen, 109). That is a very provocative statement. With which historiogoraphic tradition is Offen conversing? What is she suggesting about the history of 19th century politics?

Image: Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830 (from Web Gallery of Art)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Politics of Women's Work: The Paris Garment Trades 1750-1915

This article delves into the dramatic industrial developments of the 19th century and their correlating effects on the changes in both the perception and the nature of woman's work. The first and possibly most important development discussed is the invention and introduction of the sewing machine into industrial France in 1829. Coffin argues that the sewing machine paved the way for new discussions about gender roles and, in the implicated woman's work involved in the garment industry. With the advent of industrialization, woman's work became a concretely defined and separate endeavor from man's work. With women drawn out of familial enterprise and into factories this distinction between male and female work became synonymous with the distinction between "work that was skilled and unskilled, craft and cheap, honorable and demeaning, productive and pathological." The introduction of the sewing machine initially caused anxiety among women workers that the mechanization of a formerly female responsibility would only further marginalize and displace women's work.

This association of women with low quality labor is complicated by Coffin's analysis of Dupin's ideas about woman's education. Dupin's theory was that women should be taught basic geometry and applied mechanics in a trade school because of the precision, regularity, and symmetry needed for women's industrial work. According to Dupin, since the female body was weak, the forces which they do possess must be cultivated and fully utilized, just as one would attempt to fully utilize any economic force. This thoery represents the types of questions about women and thier assorted capacities which the innovations and changes of the industrial era inspired.
Dupin goes on to discuss the developement of ready-made clothing and the subsequent immergence of departement stores; enterprises which marigalized the work of skilled tailors. These tailors added to the negative view of women during this period. As Dupin says, "as the tailors saw it, the decline of skills and ruinous competition were enseparable from feminization" because of the association, discussed earlier, of women with unskilled work.

Categories: Education, Employment, Gender
Image: Jacques-Louis David, Portrait of Madame Adélaide Pastoret 1791-92, oil on canvas. Image from Web Gallery of Art:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Socialism, Feminism, and the Socialist Women's Movement from the French Revolution to World War II

Charles Sowerwine argues in this article that the feminist movement and the socialist movement have the same roots in European politics. Specifically both of these political movements stretch back to post-Revolution France where many began to question the disparity between the rhetoric of universal rights and the exclusionary policies of the Revolutionary Tribunal and later of the Napeolonic government. Women's rights and the rights of workers originated in a very closely-linked platform of socialism. Sowerwine than investigates Germany, France and England in an effort to gauge the success that women had in each of these areas in gaining rights either within or without the socialist movement. German women seem to have had the most success as the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) created a special niche for socialist women to fill and a group for them to join when women were not allowed by German law to participate actively in politics. Sowerwine argues that this special grouping of socialist women enhances their indivuality and encouraged them to take an active part in the SPD when their were allowed in by law. Next, Sowerwine argues that the French had great difficulty in bridging the gap between Socialism and Feminism. One reason for this difficulty, as argued by Sowerwine, is that there was a distinct class barrier between the two movements. While working class were attracted to socialism, middle-class women seemed to dominate the feminist-leaning parties of the day. Class distinctions put women within these two groups at odds with each other on a regular basis. Lastly, England seemed to have split the difference between the success of German women and the difficulty in France. While there was a consistent lack in England of a socialist movement, the suffragette movement gave many women the oppurtunity to gain some access to political debates. The party most open to women's suffrage in England, the Independent Labor Party, was later encompassed by the Labor Party along with other socialist-leaning parties in England. This umbrella movement allowed women to ally themselves with the Labor Party as a major force in English politics of the day.

Categories: Feminism, Categories of Difference, Citizenship, Labor.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

From the Salon to the Schoolroom

The article starts talking about the patriarchy of the society, stating that in divorce men were often granted sole custody of their children. Rogers then quickly introduces the Napoleonic Code, explaining that it restricted women's rights within the family. This gave women a different degree of autonomy that redefined their relationships with not only the family, but also the state. In the thesis of her introduction, Rogers informs that like Hesse and Dean she is "interested in women's writings and social practices and how these created opportunities for women in the first three decades of the new century." 
In her main body, Rogers explains the reservations held towards women's involvement in intellectual studies, whether they be private or public. In particular, Napoleon felt women needed to be "contained" and controlled. Following this, Rogers cites three women- Francoise Therese Antoinette Le Groing la Maisonneuve, Albertine-Adrinne Necker de Saussure, and Claire-Elise Jeanne Gravier de Vergennes. These women were all educated, but their evenutal viewpoints still conflicted concerning the education of women, especially with the onset of the Revolution. The revolution changed everything for women, and Rogers makes a point of this: Women were not in a new political order, and as such many strove to elevate their status.
In Roger's conclusion, she wraps up by saying that the "reconstruction of the family" in the first decades of the first century was both a symbolic and a material problem. Literature reflected this by "(authors placed their) heroines in situations that force them to confront and to conform to new standards of bourgeoisie femininity." Due to this, women felt more able to challenge their status. This gave them a new place in the world, though their new place was labeled simply a "social space" that "by midcentury, the nuances were largely lost, and historians have rushed perhaps too quickly to accept the division of public and private that the Revolution and the Napoleonic Code seemed to reinforce. Moreover, these intellectual constructs pose problems for understanding the role of more social spaces, such as schools."

The End. :)  

Categories: Education, Work, Gender, Families, Politics

Monday, March 2, 2009

"What is needed now is a perceptual shift to help account more convincingly for what we already know. Scholars are familiar with that most satisfying of tasks here: finding plausible links between apparently unconnected bits of information. The result will be not only a fuller picture of the past but also a different one. The operative image is not the discovery of missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of the past, but rather a turn of the historical kaleidoscope. The colored stones collected so far will remain in view when it is held to the light, but their hues and positions will have changed."
Mary S. Hartman The Household and the Making of History (Cambridge, 2004), 242

Hartman suggests that the northwest European marriage pattern set up an entirely unique gender and family dynamic that in turn created the path of western history. Do you agree? Does Hartman's explanation for patriarchy and early modern gender also explain some of our contemporary attitudes about masculinity and femininity?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reclaiming the Enlightenment for Feminism & Challenging Masculine Aristocracy

Karen Offen incorporates many of the authors we have previously examined to form an argument for the feminist movement during the French Revolution and the enlightenment. Offen argues that it was during this time that the French realized that the sexes were not determined exclusively by nature but a socially structured behavior. In that aspect I placed this reading on my list for Gender. She also looked into the view of the French on marriage and how they were still so relient on men for all that they had or could claim. This reliance became a topic of discussion for women when men declared for themselves rights, excluding women from those rights. With the beginning of a separation of church and state the topic of marriage was again examied. Men worked to retain their control over the state and thereby, marriage, while women sought a break from the churches ideals of male dominated marriages. Offen also discusses the work that women did outside the home and how this was also slightly changing. Women were being asked to spend more time on their education but this was emphasized only for civil reasons not for individual betterment.

Overall I believe this reading fits under many categories, such as Gender, Employment and Work, Marriage and Family, Law, Education, and Citizenship, and because is was largely based in France and not spread until later times, Categories of Differene in region.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Freedom of the Heart: Men and Women Critique Marriage

The chapter from Desan clearly discusses the topic of marriage in Revolutionary France but within this it also addresses gender. As Desan talks about the various pro-divorce or anti celibacy arguments she draws gender lines. For instance, when she discusses those in favor of divorce she seems to present the husband’s(male) perspective and the wife’s(female) perspective. One pamphlet Desan sights tells the fictional story of a man who says that women are the only ones who can get divorce and therefore slaps his wife in public in attempt to get her to divorce him. She retaliates by hitting him with a wine bottle and refusing to get a divorce. (33-34) This presents the unhappily married man as someone who is tied to a controlling and nagging wife. The unhappily married woman has different reasons for seeking divorce. One pamphlet explains that the only way women could leave their husbands was for “the most outrageous defamation of character or the most severe beatings performed before witnesses.”(35). This shows how women were seeking divorce to get out of abusive situations. When the genders discuss marriage they also appear to have a different understanding of each gender role in the relationship. Dessan discusses what she calls the Rousseauian assumption that all women she bend and submit to the will of their husbands. This includes the idea that “A wife should be allowed to divorce for adultery, but never for incompatibility.” (37) This differs significantly from the women (or at least pamphleteers who claimed they were female) disagreed with and sought to “challenge female subservience as the basis for affectionate marriage.”(38). Overall, Desane provides different gender perspectives on marriage and divorce allowing us to look at the two different genders during the time period.
Another interesting aspect of this article is its focus on the written word. When contrasted to last week’s readings “The Perils of Eloquence,” which suggested that women were losing influence because print was replacing oral , Desan presents several examples of women who were writing eloquently. There were multiple pamphlets Desane sighted that were attributed to women. This seems to contradict Hesse’s assertion by suggesting that women maintained their influence by adapting to the written word. Although, Desan suggests that male authors could have written under female names, this still does not undermine the female influence since the male authors would not choose a female pseudonym if it did not provide more credibility to their work.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spinning Out Capital: Women's Work in Preindustrial Europe, 1350-1750

This essay explores women's work from about 1350 to 1750 and shows all of the changes that the European economy went through. Merry Wiesner talked about rural women and urban women and how they sometimes would trade positions. Rural women would travel into town to sell their products or their labor, and urban women would go into the rural areas to buy products to sell or to work on parcels of land that were still owned by their families. It talked about how this made women an important part of the household economy. This would go under the theme of employment and work.
Another thing that was discussed was the difference between where the men and the woman made their objects that they sold. Men were able to carry out their work in workshops where women had to make their items in the domestic area. This really stopped women from being able to do many of the types of work that men were able to do even if they did know how to do things like shoemaking, etc. Merry Wiesner talked about how even widows who would continue to do the work of their husband did not have the same advantages of their competition. The men that were doing these same tasks had the opportunity to get newer equipment that would help them, but women could not have these same things because they had to continue to make their items in the domestic area. The only occupation that was truly looked at as noble for women was becoming a midwife. This changed though when men started to go to school to becom physicians. They made different types of reasoning of why women should be pushed out of the job of midwifery and they should let men take over. Women were never given the opportunity to learn the same things that the males were able to. Merry Wiesner believed that these things happened because men thought that they would give women to much power if they were allowed to do the same work that men were allowed to do.

Carla Hesse: "The Perils of Eloquence"

Carla Hesse's "The Perils of Eloquence" underscores how it was over the course of the French Revolution that French women began to see their status and respect as eloquent speakers diminish.  It was also at this time that the gap in literacy rates between men and women was at its widest.
Additionally, it was during the French Revolution that "the written and the printed word," associated with men as a masculine trait, "supplant the spoken word," associated with women as a female trait, "as the source of popular legitimacy" (30).  Hesse points out that as a result of the masculine, written word, gaining such power over the female, spoken word, "...women would have to find their way into literate culture or see their cultural and political power eclipsed...eloquence had become a perilous art indeed" (30).  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Having Her Own Smoke

This article outlines several of the most common employment opportunities available to singlewomen in Germany from 1400-1750. For this reason, I've placed this article in "Categories of Difference". Wiesner analyzes, specifically, Germany in a comparatively short span of time - these demographics anywhere else at any other time could very well have yielded completely different results.
In addition, Wiesner discusses the lifestyle differences between the employment opportunities. She describes the characteristics of singlewomen who were domestic servants, wage laborers, and those who participated in craft production and sales. While each of these lifestyles resulted in different freedoms and certain restraints for singlewomen, they were all held suspect in terms of their motivations for being single working women. Working women were subject to the stigma of being associated with lewdness and, in some cases, prostitution.

~Melissa Johnson

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Women in Early Modern Europe

This reading explored the difference between women of Europe and the women of the new world colonies. Women overall had more opportunities in the European colonies. Colonial women had more of a choice in marriage and tended to marry younger. In early Portuguese colonies there were very few women, so white women in the colonies were very prized. Within Brazil women had more opportunities, like holding on to their estates after their husband’s death. In Spanish colonies women were of a higher status then their Spanish counterparts. Women in the French colonies often married earlier then the women and France and tended to have larger families. In British colonies marriages had the ability to be dissolved. Women had the right to divorce a husband who was not able to provide.
In many ways the women of European colonies had more rights and opportunities then their European counterparts. However just as in any situations, there were some things that were better for European women. Within the article it is apparent that we can see Categories of Difference within the women from all over the colonies and all over Europe. Marriage and Family plays a role in the different marriage ages we see in Europe and the colonies and the different sizes in families. Employment and Work become important as women in the colonies tended to have more job opportunities available to them. Lastly, Law, Education and Citizenship can be seen in the role women played in all of these communities, as education became important and women were able to access legal help in some of the colonies like those of England.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Would you rather live in Salem or Montaillou?

After reading "The Women and Men of Montaillou and Salem Village: Patterns of Gender and Power" from Mary Hartman's The Household and the Making of History we discussed if we would prefer to live in seventeenth-century Salem or early modern Montaillou. The overwhelming choice of class members was Salem. I was so struck by the reasoning for this choice that I include the highlights here:
Reasons for choosing Salem:
Respect (mentioned three times)
Responsibility (mentioned three times) Overall quality of life for women (mentioned twice) Just legal system (mentioned twice) Lack of pressure to marry “someone extremely older than you” (mentioned twice)
More overlap with men and women’s roles (mentioned twice)
More power in daily life (mentioned twice)
Because women had it “a little easier than Montaillou” More equality (less machismo)

And then these quotes that neatly summarize the ambiguity of preferring Salem:

  • “In Salem the men more readily admitted their fears of women gaining social power”
    “I wouldn’t have wanted to live there [Salem] then, but before [the trials], I’d want to live in Salem. Probably.”
  • “Even though my chances of being raped, accused of witchcraft, and becoming a “spinster” would be greater, I would have more freedom in choice of work, gender roles would be less defined, and since women would outnumber men, it would be more acceptable for me to choose not to get married than it would be in Montaillou. (Where I probably wouldn’t have a choice.)"
  • “Despite Salem being more dangerous as far as the propensity to be a victim of violent assault, I feel Salem is more akin to the world I am acclimatized to. Today women aren’t considered witches and executed, but something that rhymes with witches and are sacrificed on the altar of public opinion.”

Reasons for choosing Montaillou:

  • “Who’s to say that the women didn’t retaliate with equally derogatory remarks that were not recorded?”
  • “Even though, perhaps, women on the whole were less revered than in Salem and more openly scorned they also had more autonomy in their own sphere”

Davis, "Arguing with God"

The section of Natalie Zemon Davis's book, "Arguing with God: Glikl Das Judah Leib" in the larger work Women on the Margins fits very nicely into "categories of difference" in regards to religion, as well as the category of "employment" . Davis points out the stark differences between Jewish and Christian women, tying their employment to their religion. The differences in how Jewish women and Christian women were able to support themselves and their families is striking; Jewish women were able to work in their husband's business, even if their husband passes away, as in Glikl's situation. Whereas for Christian women, while they still entered into small business adventures (Davis lists goldspinning and stockingmaking). But the real difference comes in the fact that she made short-range trades for large sums of money, and she did all her business in person. Christian women, on the other hand, did not take over their husband's business, or do much of anything without a male member of the family present, for the German Jews, women could do things on their own, without a chaperon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reading: January 28, 2009; The Burdens of Sister Margaret

This reading, The Burdens of Sister Margaret by Craig Harline, is the story of a young women Margaret Smulders who leaves her home to join a convent in 1604. After spending two years acclimating as a novice, she is voted in and accepted as a full-fledged member of the house. Margaret pledged to remain at the convent for the remainder of her days, however, ten years later Margaret left the convent. There were many stories that circulated throughout the convent as to why she had left. Many of the other women believed that Margaret had sold her soul to the devil and become a witch. They recounted tales of disturbances and other superstitions that had stopped once Margaret left. After a time, Margaret came out with her story. She claimed that she left the house because of the sexual advances of the convent's confessor, Henri Joos. After investigation, Henri Joos was removed from the convent at Bethlehem and Sister Margret welcomed back, although reluctantly by most.

This reading, quite obviously, deals with the theme of religion. It recounts the life of a nun in early 17th century, showing the reader how life was for a nun at the time. It sheds light on the relationship that existed between women, religion, and witchcraft. At the time it was believed that women were more extreme, and therefore more likely to either be very good (devout nuns) or very bad (witches). In fact 80% of the people charged with witchcraft between 1500-1700 were women. We also learn that people believed there to be a connection between sinful acts welcome in evil spirits and possessions.

Another theme of this reading is categories of difference. There are some facts and statistics mentioned that deal with other locations, but almost entirely, the perspective given is one from the Low Countries (Netherlands).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

'The Reformation of Women' Chp. 7 of "Becoming Visible"

Susan C. Karant-Nunn concluded chapter 7 with the firm statement that "the Reformations worsened women's position." Using the Reformation and Counter-Reformation as her historical markers, Karant-Nunn discusses how each reformed path of Christendom led to religious, economic and social refashioning of women's roles in each category; the greatest emphasis is, of course, placed on the changes in the religious practices of women.

In many ways, Karant-Nunn's work parallels Joan Kelly's article, 'Did women have a Renaissance?' Both the Reformation and the Renaissance which seem to provide greater progress for humankind have the opposite affect on women. Karant-Nunn relates how before the Reformation, women were members of confraternities, nuns and healers. She also claims women were allowed some part in feast days, processions and the commissioning of art. Karant-Nunn argues that the Protestants stripped women of such inclusion, focusing more on the role of women as wives and mothers. Many convents were closed, forcing women without skills back into a world they were ill prepared for. Protestant reasoning said that all people had lustful desires and that marriage was ideal to keep such in check and propagate the next generation of Christian believers. Because Protestantism could only survive in state-sponsored environments, both the church and state worked to reign in institutions that supported single women, namely convents and brothels. The Protestant attitude,Karant-Nunn asserts was even more hostile to women than before because it rejected the iconography and worship of the Virgin Mary which provided another woman aside from Eve for women to become associated with.

The Counter-Reformation sought to impose uniformity, which Karant-Nunn argues, led to the narrowing of religious scope for women. Though convents remained an option for women, the movement of nuns into the secular world was much more limited and essentially they were confined within the walls of the convent and more heavily regulated than before.

The final piece Karant-Nunn discusses is the witch craze. She says that without the compliance of theologians, judges, lawyers and magistrates, the with craze never would have occurred; essentially the world view of all these educated men was steeped in religiosity that allowed for the hunting of witches. The witch hunting was associated with females and included treatises written about women and witches and sexual overtones which all reveal in Karant-Nunn's opinion how the anxiety over church and state caused by the Reformations revealed the misogynistic attitudes of the society.

-Deborah Goodwin

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notes on "The Dominion of Gender of How Women Fared in the High Middle Ages" by Susan Mosher Stuard

As suggested by the title of her essay, Stuard's work focuses mainly on the theme of gender. She critically analyzes how and why gender developed as a category of differentiation in the high Middle Ages as compared to the relative egalitarian understanding of male/female functionality as understood in the early middle ages. The main arguments she uses are that as men became more affluent, the Church became more dominant in people's lives, and the governments of Europe became more solidified women were closed out of opportunities that they had been supported in and even expected to fulfill in earlier centuries.

Stuard also uses a number of other themes to organize her arguments. She relies heavily on changing marriage dowries (marriage/family; economics) and the male clergy's interpretation of Christian doctrine (religion) and classic Aristotelian dogma to explain why women slowly lost rights to govern, make laws, and receive education (citizenship and law; education). Ultimately, the progress that men experienced in these centuries resulted in the loss of rights for women as they were given the negatives of attributes assigned to men. These developments are still impacting our society today, making the modern women's movements necessities for achieving equality (feminism).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recap of the readings for January 14th

Okay, so this is obviously my first time blogging... so sorry about the title with nothing else below this post. oops!

1. I think that Elaine Sciolino's article can fall under Law, Education & Citizenship and Employment & Work. It works in both of these categories because of the emphasis on women's roles in politics both in the past and currently in France. Another category that would work would be Feminism. It is argued in the article that Royal emphasizes both feminine and feminist traits to win over the voting public.

2. Bonnie Erbe's article goes well in the Gender category because it discusses how the roles of men and women are changing in regards to working in the business world and at home. This article also fits under Categories of Difference because it seems that the sample of people discussed were only couples living in urban areas.

3. The Family: A Proclamation to the World goes well in the category of Gender. Throughout the document men and women are referred to in equal terms. though some roles are specifically mentioned for each sex there are no specific limitations put on being able to also participate in other roles as part of a couple or as a parent. Obviously this also goes under Marriage & Family because it discusses both in combination between husband and wife and also in regards to separate responsibilities of each.

4. Categories of Difference is a good fit for Robert Ebert's article because it discusses the way class and age differences between Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh were ignored or smoothed over in the movie. It also works in Feminism in that the movie seems to take a woman who was in charge of the country and downplays that role to the point that the focus on her is the romantic aspect of her life which in reality did not even exist.

5. Robin Abcarian's article on the public's reaction to Sarah Palin as a Vice Presidential Candidate could be put into the category of Feminism because the article mentions how Palin is representing a new type of feminist. A conservative feminist. Also, the article goes well with Marriage & Family because it discusses how Palin's family represents a sort of opposite of the traditional American household. Palin is a mother of 5 who has a very demanding career but whose husband is extremely supportive of it. That idea is different and still somewhat new to many people in the world today.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gender: An Overview of Monday's Reading

The theme that I found most prevalent in the introduction of "Becoming Visible" was gender. As for the reading itself since it was an introduction to a text that complied essays on women in European History it focused on its own purpose and the themes over which the essays portend. The themes that the introduction are split into are gender relations, women's work, and women in politics. The reason the intro falls under the theme gender is because that is what is discussed throughout the work. Under each heading or theme the author goes through time, starting with ancient Egypt down to the present, and elaborates on the differences between the genders. It also explains the generalized differences between what was expected of men and women during those different times and throughout different cultures. The significance of using the gender theme in the introduction is that it shows us, somewhat briefly, the overall changes in gender, in relations between the two, in the work of women, and in women in politics.

As for the second piece of reading it also falls under the theme of gender. In Joan Kelly's work she uses gender or the differing ideals of men and women, as well as the differences in their power during the Medieval period and that of the Renaissance period, to show that unlike most men the Renaissance for women actually meant a decrease in power and another shift in gender relations. To some the piece could more directly be placed under the theme of marriage and family because of Kelly's emphasis. But that is only part of the whole picture, because Kelly uses marriage, family, the courtly love of the medieval period, and ladies of the court in the Renaissance to show the shift in even the minor power that was granted women in the medieval period to that of their husbands.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Welcome to History 318 - European Women's History Since 1400

This course is designed to provide the student with a general knowledge of European women’s lives since 1400 and the historiography of women’s history and gender history. Class will consist of a combination of lectures, discussions, exams, reports, and class presentations. Discussion is encouraged during all class times.