AMS 370 • Women in Post-War America-W
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
This course offers an intensive examination of a complex, fascinating period of U.S. women's history, from the Cold War to the Reagan era. Most broadly, it examines women in postwar American culture and the new social movements of this era. The course examines how women and popular notions of womanhood or gender were central to the era's cultural politics and social conflicts. We explore how various groups of women, including suburban girls and housewives, recent immigrants, student activists and others, negotiated competing understandings of family, work and sexuality. We also trace women's participation in the new social movements of this period. We pay close attention to how such activism reflected and contested prevailing images of womanhood. The course includes historical perspectives on cultural conflicts that continue to have political purchase today, such as reproductive rights, welfare, sexuality, and race.
This is primarily a discussion course, with occasional brief lectures. Weekly readings will usually include a range of materials, from original historical documents and autobiographies to scholarly essays and longer studies. We will also screen television clips and films. The course includes a Postwar Women's Memoir Project in which students develop individual and group projects based on interviews with women who came of age during the postwar era.
Classroom participation (20%) Three 4-page essays (45%) Final paper and presentation on the Postwar Women's Memoir Project (35%)
Possible Texts Susan Ware, Modern American Women: A Documentary History Joanne Meyerowitz, ed., Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960 Susan J. Douglas, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media Rickie Solinger, Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade Belinda Robnett, How Long? How Long? African-American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights Alice Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin Ruth Rosen, The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America Esmeralda Santiago, Almost a Woman