History 388

Fall 2003


Working in small groups (3 or 4), you will research and lead class discussion on a topic from the list below.   Your presentation is meant to extend our understanding of the course material.  Often the presentation topics will ask you to do outside research.  Your task is not to simply summarize an outside source.  You task is to help everyone in the class engage with the material you have found and develop a broader understanding of the topic area.

Your presentations should be around 15 minutes in length.  They may take any format that you believe is conducive to learning the material.  All of the members of your group should participate in the preparation and presentation of your research. In addition to an oral presentation, each member of your group must submit a separate, short paper (3-4 pages) addressing the topic. Papers are due one week after your presentation.


#1 Anne Hutchinson (Week 3) Friday, Sept. 19

Begin with the transcript excerpt in Kerber of John Winthropıs examination of Anne Hutchinson (WA, 73-75). How is Hutchinson challenging the order in Puritan New England? In a Harvard Magazine Issue, Peter Gomes declared Anne Hutchinson to be ³Harvardıs midwife² (See: http://www.harvard-magazine.com/on-line/1102194.html). His point was that she was the first to seriously challenge the religious order. How does the representation differ over time? You might want to survey textbooks, web materials, etc.

#2 Native American Womenıs material circumstances (Week 4) Friday, Sept. 26

Think about how to help your classmates use the Mary Rowlandson text as a way to understand Native American womenıs experience. Using the excerpt from William Crononıs Changes in the Land on reserve for this course, see if you can help them think about Native American womenıs labor and the land. Consider this as a way to our understanding of the material circumstances of women in the colonial era, as presented in Ulrichıs narrative.

#2A Native American Womenıs material circumstances (Week 4) Friday, Sept. 26

Juxtaposing the idea of food. Chronologically, I will ask you to ³jump² ahead and read an excerpt from Joan Jacobs Brombergıs book Fasting Girls chronicling the rise of eating disorders among middle class youth in the 19thC. Professor Bromberg will be speaking at Umass on Sept. 30, so I encourage you to read her narrative BEFORE she comes to campus. What does this give us as a way to think about Rowlandsonıs narrative and the narrative she constructs about access to food for the Wampanoag, Narragansett and Nipmuck Indians? (You will need to read Cronon, or another narrative) to think about what contemporary social scientists call ³food security.²

#3 Abortion and Gender Relations in an 18th C. Village (Week 5) Friday, Oct. 3

We will be watching Laurie Levittıs film, ³A Midwifeıs Tale² in class. Please read Cornelia Hughes Daytonıs article, ³Taking the Trade: Abortion and Gender Relations in an Eighteenth-Century Village. (WA, 90-106). You may also want to read Carolyn Merchantıs work on the replacement of midwives by physicians. How can you use the narrative of the death of 19-year old Sarah Grosvenor to help illuminate the story of Martha Ballad?

#4 Womenıs Work & Industrialization (Week 7) Wednesday, Oct. 15

Read Catherine Kish Sklarıs excerpt, ³Catherine Beecher: Transforming the Teaching Profession² (WA, 159-165). Can you think of ways to juxtapose the Œfeminizing of the teaching profession² to the ³gendering of the workplace²? You should consult some of the materials from The Lowell Offering (http:// courses.wcupa.edu/johnson/Low-offr1.html and http://courses.wcupa.edu/johnson/Low-offr2.html), to think about the relationship between early factory structures and middle class domestic ideology.

#5 Womenıs Work & Industrialization (Week7) Friday, Oct. 17

What was is it like to work in Lowell? How different were early factories from home labor? Read Laurel Thatcher Ulrichıs discussion of home-industry and juxtapose to letters/ materials in primary sources from Lowell like The Lowell Offering, Letters collected by Thomas Dublin or Phillip Foner. Decide what you need to share with the class to help them tangibly understand the experience. This would be substantially increased by a trip to Lowell, Mass. I will try to arrange a van though you should be prepared for National Park fees.

#6 ³Passionlessness² & Reproduction (Week 8) Friday, Oct. 24

Materials: Read James C. Mohrıs ³Abortion in America² (WA, 184-192). What can you present about the control of reproduction? How might we think about the issue of class and the professionalizing of medicine? What do we know about Œbirth controlı? What is the relationship between womenıs labor and their roles as mothers? What do we make of Maria Perkinsı claim that she would not

Œplenish de earthı?

#7 Female Networks & Sexuality (Week 9) Friday, Oct. 31

Go to the Mr. Holyoke Archives, (bottom floor of Mt. Holyoke Library, So. Hadley). Papers for female students have been systematically summarized and listed in four binders. Read through the first finding aid. Are there any students whose letters from Mt. Holyoke or home reflect the kind of homosocial networks that Smith-Rosenberg represents? Please write down appropriate quotations.

How does this perspective on female networks inform decisions to found Smith  College on a heterosocial model? See Helen Lefkowitz Horowitzıs essay on the Founding of Smith.

Read Nancy Cottıs classic womenıs history essay titled ³Passionlessness: An Interpretation of Victorian Sexual Ideology, 1790-1850² from Signs, 4, (1978) 219-236 to help think about how this might connect.

#8 : Women as Consumers and Activists (Week 10) Friday 11/7

Go to the online archive of family papers at the Sophia Smith Collection, Across the Generations: Exploring U.S. History through Family Papers, at http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/atg/index.html.  Read through some of the documents in the Social Awareness and Reform section as well as the other sections on family life.  How can these sets of family papers illuminate attitudes toward reform and middle-class values?  Please see the instructor to help refine your approach.

#9: Slave Narratives: Authenticating the Sources (Week 11) Friday 11/14

Get a copy of The Bondswomanıs Narrative and read the introduction and authentication report in the appendix.  Consider what it took to authenticate this text.  How does authentication change this textıs status as evidence of a slave womanıs experience? How are these kinds of considerations relevant to Harriet Jacobıs narrative and the context for its publication?

#10: Reading Little Women (Week 12) Friday 11/21

Read the essay ³Reading Little Women².  This topic gives you the opportunity to consider the novel Little Women as a work of literature and an historical document.  Your presentation should focus on an analysis of issues of reform and domesticity. ALTERNATELY, you may want to consider girlhood in the nineteenth century.  The North American Women's Letters and Diaries (NWLD) at http://www.alexanderstreet2.com/NWLDlive/ may be useful.

#11: Witness at Wounded Knee (Week 14) Friday 12/5

The Sophia Smith Collection has the papers of Elaine Goodale Eastman, who as the wife of Charles Eastman witnessed the massacre at Wounded Knee.  This is a restricted collection of papers, but you should be able to get partial access.  What was Elaine Eastmanıs experience in the West?  How did her status mediate her experience?  How does she describe the lives of Native American women in the early days of the reservation system?


            Please feel free to research and propose your own topic.  All proposals must be approved in advance by the instructor.  If you are interested in this option, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible to get approval and to arrange a timeslot for your presentation.