History 397F University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Final Exam Assignment
DUE: Before 4pm, Tuesday, December 20, 2005
For this assignment, you will be asked to write a brief (4-5 page) essay on one of the topics described below. Your paper must have a signed cover sheet (available at http://people.umass.edu/llovett/cover.html).
Please review the paper Writing Guidelines for this course before you begin to research or write. (Available at http://people.umass.edu/llovett/writing.html.)
In The Way We Never Were, Stephanie Coontz argues that “The history of Mother’s Day is a microcosm of the simultaneous sentimentalization and commercialization of private life over the past one hundred years and of the ways in which the market has penetrated every aspect of family relations” (Coontz, p. 153). How have these processes of sentimentalization and commercialization affected ideas of the ‘normal’ or ‘traditional’ family in the twentieth century? Have they had the same impact on other ideas of normalcy? Please support your answer with specific historical evidence.
In The Way We Never Were, Stephanie Coontz describes how the ‘normal’ or ‘traditional’ family was used in public discussions of various social policies and practices. Compare how the idea of the ‘normal’ family was used in a particular historical context with how another type of normalcy was used either in the same time period or at a different time. How do these uses of normalcy reflect their historical context? Please support your answer with specific historical evidence.