Syllabus and Letter of Welcome
Thank you for joining us on our quest into American history!
This course was originally designed to focus specifically on feminists in America from 1840 to the present. Because of our class composition, we'll also include as much Canadian material as I can add to that foundation.
Certainly there were women who made a difference in women's lives before 1840, and as certainly there are extraordinary stories to be had from other countries. Likewise, there are many, many women who have made great strides in medicine, in the arts, in hundreds of different fields--but who were not specifically working toward equality of opportunity for women. Although their stories are often wonderful, they'll have to await another course; with only six weeks, we have to draw some boundaries somewhere!
Our general format will be to introduce a new topic each week. For each topic, I'll post some basic material about a half-dozen or more women, and links to games, self-quizzes, and research sites. Then, each of you will choose one famous feminist's history to explore in more detail. Use whatever resources you like--be sure to give them credit!--and write an introduction to this woman to share with the rest of us. This material will be collected on our website so we can share with others.
Please bookmark this site, our Geocities site, and our MSN community. We'll use these three places to keep in touch, and our Geocities site will share our findings with the rest of the online world!
Here's a general topic outline for the weeks ahead, with occasional examples of the women we'll meet:
Week 1: Suffrage in two parts: (before and after the 15th Amendment)
The History of the Suffrage Movement
by Marjorie Spruill Wheeler
Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman? (the Classic Report)
Games: Word Search, Matching, Flash Cards, Hangman, Jumbled Words (links are below)
Questions for thought and discussion:
1. Why did so many feminist activists advocate banning liquor?
2. What were the connections between the suffragists' goals and those of the abolitionists? At the time, there was much debate about whether these two groups should work together or separately; had you lived then, where would you have stood on this issue?
3. Why did Emma Goldman think that it was a mistake to focus on getting women the vote?
4. How important is the right to vote to the women you know today? How active can women be in American politics, in theory? How active are women in politics where you live? With a national election coming up soon, what issues have shaped how the women in your life intend to vote? Where do the various presidential candidates stand on current issues related to women's rights? Where do you and your family stand?
(discussions are welcome on our MSN community message boards!)
*** Writing assignment is on our Geocities site, at http://www.geocities.com/famousfeminists
Week 2: The worlds of work and politics
Try out our new "Rags to Riches" game, below!
*** Required reading, writing assignment, etc. are on our Geocities site, at http://www.geocities.com/famousfeminists
Questions for Discussion:
To what extent is it true, in the lives of people you know, that men are more likely to "need to support a family" and women are more likely to "work for pin money?"
Look at the records of women politicians in office near you. Do they seem to support women's equality?
If you could change any one law related to the workplace, what would you change?
Some women in the sex trade industry--movie making, prostitution, etc.--have claimed that they should have the freedom to work as they choose, and that current laws are misogynistic (look it up!) and repressive. Other women actively oppose pornography and the sex trade as harmful to women. What do you think?
Week 3: My body, my choices—health care, birth control, and abortion
Week 4: Women in religion
Week 5: Youth activism (‘zines, radical cheerleading, multinational corporate exploitation of women, domestic violence, fat prejudice and body image)
Week 6: Powerful US! This week will be a little different. With some exposure to what's gone before and is happening now, we're going to do even more. We've already created a web site as a resource for others. Now, each of you will choose a current issue that matches your own ideals, and ACT to affect it. You might choose to write a legislator, to assist a local organization, to write a letter to the editor, to volunteer in some other way. You don't have to agree with my politics, at all. Our last contribution to the website will be a collection of our activist efforts--a description of your experience as a volunteer, a copy of the letter you wrote, whatever you want. And the topic's entirely up to you. The idea is to demonstrate that WE can be as powerful as the women we've studied.
The UN conference on women (Beijing and after)
Afghanistan and Lesotho
More to come! ;)