History 3341 and English 3330: Representing American Women’s Work, 1850-1920

Instructors:     Drs. Ann Pullen and Sarah Robbins, Kennesaw State University

Email: apullen@kennesaw.edu and srobbins@kennesaw.edu

                       

Description of the course:

This course will draw on multiple disciplines to examine the cultural work of images depicting various forms of women's labor in the United States between the Civil War and World War I.  In magazines, through literary illustrations and in popular culture documents such as advertising cards, images of women at work depicted enabling and constraining roles American women could take on in their everyday lives--e.g., in the home,  at a factory loom, in a schoolroom, or as part of purposeful migrations across regions and nations.  Circulating in mass culture, such images played a part in 19th-century culture similar to television advertising, film, and print advertisements today: they reinforced some possibilities for women's work through constant repetition and emphasis, while "selecting out" other options through omission.  Consistent with recent interdisciplinary scholarship in American Studies, cultural studies, and women's studies, therefore, this course will explore ways in which the public representation of women's work contributed to the 19th-century social construction of gendered roles in a variety of ethnic groups and social classes.  

By interpreting these images in their own original historical, rhetorical contexts, students in this course will acquire an enhanced understanding of how such popular culture images have functioned in the past and still function today.  Students will learn to present and interpret these such images and related print texts as “representations” that reflect and/or resist dominant ideas and beliefs circulating in a particular era.  Course readings will include primary and secondary materials.  Student projects will set particular images in a rich rhetorical context drawing upon literary and historical documents to invite others’ critical interpretations of how popular culture images shape social roles in American society.

Students may enroll for either History or English credit. Students do not need to have past experience with computers, but they should be willing to try out various technologies in new ways to support their learning and their ability to present knowledge to diverse audiences.  Along those lines, students will participate in a computer listserv/bulletin board, they will use the internet as a resource for active research, and they will practice creating and critiquing visual imagery through various technologies to study the history of women’s culture. 

Core print texts: My Antonia (Cather), Arrogant Beggar (Yezierska), The Silent Partner (Phelps), essays from Atlantic Monthly by Zitkala Sa, secondary source readings and primary texts in a course pack (e.g., from Charlotte Forten Grimke, Laura Haygood, Elizabeth Blackwell, Harriet Beecher Stowe)

Breakdown of Elements in Students’ Grade for the Course

Type of Task

Percentage of Grade

Participation (attendance; discussion during meetings and on the class list-serv)

20%

Critique of a website on women’s work

10%

PowerPoint presentation

10%

Proposal for Major Project

10%

Two-Three Short Written Exercises

10%

Written Exam

20%

Major Project

20%

Total

100%

clarification of participation grade:

You may miss one class without penalty.  After one absence, unexcused absences will have a negative impact on your participation grade.  The quantity and quality of your classroom discussion involvement will also be evaluated.  In addition, you should make at least four substantive contributions to the course list-serv/bulletin board, two before the mid-term point in the course, with each of these contributions being at least a short paragraph in length.  Specific suggestions for how to make your entries “substantive” (e.g., by demonstrating understanding of a key reading, by responding thoughtfully to another’s comments, by raising a provocative question that spurs others to think) will be outlined in class.

KSU ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY:

Every KSU student is responsible for upholding the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct, as published in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs.  Section II of the Student Code of Conduct addresses the University’s policy on academic honesty, including provisions regarding plagiarism and cheating, unauthorized access to University materials, misrepresentation/falsification of University records or academic work, malicious removal, retention, or destruction of library materials, malicious/intentional misuse of computer facilities and/or services, and misuse of student identification cards.  Incidents of alleged academic misconduct will be handled through the established procedures of the University Judiciary Program, which includes either an “informal” resolution by a faculty member, resulting in a grade adjustment, or a formal hearing procedure, which may subject a student to the Code of Conduct’s minimum one semester suspension requirement.

LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW WITHOUT ACADEMIC PENALTY: October 19

Tentative Schedule of Readings, Discussions and Major Assignments

[C= a meeting in the computer classroom]

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE OF READINGS, DISCUSSIONS, AND MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS    

                  (C = a meeting in the computer classroom)

Aug. 21:  Course Introduction

                Topics:  description of course content (What is "women's work"? ) , the role of technologies in the course, expectations of class members; analysis of visual representations of women's work in the 19th century.  In-class readings:  excerpts from Laura Wexler, “Tender Violence” and Martha Sandweiss, introduction to Photography in 19th Century America

Aug. 23 - C:  Introduction to Computer lab, PowerPoint presentations, and website critiques 

                Topics: View and analyze an idealized image depicting 19th century women’s work;  begin discussion of  "domesticity" by examining website for Godey's Ladies Book;  view PowerPoint presentation on “Domesticity,” as represented in advertising cards aimed at middle-class homemakers.

Aug. 28:  DOMESTICITY, considered from the viewpoint of different ethnic groups

                Readings due:  Hasia Diner:  excerpt from Erin's Daughters

                                         Tera Hunter, excerpt from To 'Joy my Freedom

                                          Harriet Beecher Stowe, “Trials of a Housekeeper”

Aug. 30-C:  Introduction to WebCT site

                 Main topics/activities:   posting to WebCT Bulletin Board; answering questions (based on readings for Aug. 28) about ethnic and class differences in daily household labor (paid and unpaid) and in the concept of “domesticity”

Sept.4:  IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION WEST

             Assigned Reading: Willa Cather's  My Antonia, to p. 90

             Discussion topics to include contrasts between new immigrants and "longtime" Americans in the West ;  PowerPoint on "Overland Trail:  Myth and Reality"               

Sept. 6-C:    Intro. To Website Critique Assignment (due Oct. 11)

             Main topics/activities:  (1) View Willa Cather website and one other website  on settlement  (2) work in pairs to critique a website though looking at interplay between images and text, summarizing content, and identifying strengths/weaknesses in presentation. (3)  post to WebCT Bulletin Board

Sept. 11: SETTLEMENT IN THE WEST, CONT.

              Reading Assignment:  Complete My Antonia

   Discussion topics to include how ethnicity and class shaped women's work experiences in the west; PowerPoint on "My Antonia and its Critics"

Sept. 13 - C:  Intro. To PowerPoint Presentations:  Settlement and Domesticity

            Topics/activities:  work in pairs to develop a short PowerPoint presentation by selecting one image from the instructors' collection, then identifying where the image first appeared, relating the image to a previous course reading, and creating a draft PowerPoint (See instructions).

Sept. 18:  EDUCATION AS WOMEN'S WORK:  THE RECONSTRUCTION PERIOD

            Reading Assignments:  Sarah Hale's "The Village Schoolmistress," Sarah Jane Foster's articles for the Maine Zion’s Advocate about working as an AMA teacher,  Charlotte Grimké 's Atlantic essays on the Port Royal Experiment,  and Frances Harper's "Chloe Poems"

Sept. 20 - C:  Begin work on PowerPoint Presentation on Education

             Reading Assignment:  Whittington Johnson, “A Black Teacher and her School in Reconstruction Darien:  The Correspondence of Hattie Sabattie and J. Murray Hoag, 1868- 1869”; excerpt from Stephanie Shaw, What a Woman Ought to Be and Do (on the education of African-American Professional Women), excerpt from Elizabeth Blackwell, Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women

             Activity:  Select image(s) from instructor's collection and begin work on PowerPoint presentation, due on Oct. 4; post to Bulletin Board short reflection on issues/difficulties in integrating texts and images or comments about educational topics being addressed in the PowerPoint

Sept. 25:  EDUCATION:  PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS

            Reading Assignment:  review readings listed above; "Recent Literature,” Atlantic Monthly (Dec. 1873, a review of Sex in Education, Or, A Fair Chance for the Girls, by Edward Clarke, M.S.) handouts from publications on the American Women's Foreign Mission Movement (Spelman College Messenger  and Woman's Work for Woman )

Sept. 27 - C:  Complete PowerPoints on Education  (see Sept. 20 for readings/instructions)

Oct. 2:  MISSION SCHOOLS AND GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS WITH A MISSION     

             Reading Assignment: Review handouts from Sept. 25; Zitkala-Sa, “Impressions of an Indian Childhood,” “School Days of an Indian Girl,” and “An Indian Teacher among Indians”

Oct. 4: - C:  Show PowerPoint presentations to class

Oct. 9:  WOMEN AND BENEVOLENT REFORM:  TEMPERANCE

Reading Assignment:  Lori Ginsberg, Women and the Work of Benevolence (excerpt);  Frances W. Harper’s “Sowing and Reaping” (excerpt)

           Discussion of class issues in temperance reform; PowerPoint presentation on "Women and Temperance Reform"

Oct. 11- C:  Website Critique Due

         In class, students select one element of website and present an informal critique to other class members.

Oct. 16:  WOMEN AND THE WORK OF BENEVOLENCE, CONT.

          Reading Assignment:  Anzia Yezierska's Arrogant Beggar, to p. 90

           Discussion of the experience of an ethnic "recipient" who "benefits" from upper-class benevolence

Oct. 18 - C:  Introduction to Major Project

          Viewing examples of major projects from previous classes and critiquing instructors' draft webpages on domesticity.  NOTE:  Last day to withdraw without academic penalty is Oct. 19.

Oct. 23:  TURNING THE TABLES:  YEZIERSKA'S CRITIQUE OF BENEVOLENCE

          Reading Assignment:  Complete Arrogant Beggar

          Discussion topic:  Adele's model for collaborative reform of communities from within

Oct. 25 -C:  Introduction to Dreamweaver and web page construction

Oct. 30:  THE  "MILL GIRLS":  WOMEN IN THE  TEXTILE INDUSTRY

         Reading Assignment:  Elizabeth Stuart Phelps' The Silent Partner (first half)

         Discussion of the choices of the "mill girls" vs. the mill owners' daughters

          PowerPoint on textile mill workers in the mid-1800s

Nov. 1 - C:  Work with Dreamweaver; discussion of  projects

               Activity:  design a webpage (a draft of opening page for major project) using Dreamweaver

Nov.6:  WOMEN IN INDUSTRY, CON.

           Reading Assignment:  Complete The Silent Partner; excerpt from "The 10th of January"

           Discussion of the effects of immigration on the textile industry; the labor movement

Nov. 8 - C:  Work in Computer lab or library or elsewhere on Major Projects

Nov. 13:  WOMEN IN INDUSTRY IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY

            Major Project Proposal Due

              Discussion of  excerpt from Muller v. Oregon

Discussion of working conditions; ethnic women's relationships; evolution of reform initiatives in New York; briefly examine website on Triangle Fire

Nov. 15-C:  Women in the Millinery Trades:  Critique of webpages

          Activity:  View webpages on "women in the millinery trades," discuss/critique based on content, questions, images, and other features; Women’s Suffrage as seen on a Powerpoint and via websites

Nov. 20:  Cumulative  Exam

Nov. 22:  Holiday

Nov. 27:  Instructors’ Research in Progress

Robbins and Pullen present materials on research in progress:  excerpts from Women’s Work for Women; excerpts from diary and images from scrapbook of Nellie Arnott Darling (missionary in Portuguese Angola), gathered from UC-Berkeley library

Nov. 29-C:  Workshop:   Major Project Drafts

Providing peer feedback on drafts of  major projects

Dec. 4:  Major Project Presentations (if needed)

Dec. 6 - C:  Major Project Presentations; course evaluations

Dec. 13-C:  Complete Project Presentations—11:00-1:00 (exam time)