History | Western Feminist Theory and Politics, 1750-1950
W200 | 25777 | Allen
Above class open to undergraduates only
Above class meets with GNDR-G205
“Feminism” today is a term both widely used and little understood,
while few users of the term know of its long and complex history.
This course offers crucial background for understanding the
development of feminism before its current phase in since the
1960s. Some questions anchor the course. When did
recognizable “feminism” emerge in Western societies? Why have
meanings or definitions of “feminism” been subject to intense debate
during the past two centuries? How have the preoccupations and
campaigns of feminists changed since the eighteenth century? Was
feminism necessarily “Western” (and middle class and “white” or
ethnocentrically Eurocentric) as some commentators claim, or did
male dominance historically encounter feminist resistance worldwide
during these two centuries? To what extent did engagement with
emerging concept of “sexuality” and its practical shape feminist
concerns during these 200 years? What were the relationships
between feminist theories and politics on the one hand, and
alternative theories and/or politics on the other – including those
of the European Enlightenment in the 1750-1790s, abolitionism,
imperialism, nationalism, liberalism, Progressivism, eugenics,
pacifism, socialism, psychoanalysis, modernism, fascism, social
democracy, and 1950s post-colonialism?
The lectures and discussions center upon historical contexts in
which feminism formed and transformed itself, not only in Europe and
North America, but also the Pacific Rim, South Asia, Latin America,
Africa, and the Middle East. Particular theorists and writers
examined may include Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, John
Stuart Mill, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ellen Key, Rose Scott,
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Luisa Capetillo, Christobel Pankhurst,
Stella Browne, Mathar Manoranjani, Olive Schreiner, Clara Zetkin,
Alexandra Kollanti, Zora Neale Hurston, Virginia Woolf, Ding Ling,
Mary McLeod Bethune, Yamakawa Kikue, Viola Klein, Duriya Shafiq,
Ruth Herschberger, Ifeoma Okoye, and Simone de Beauvoir.
Students will develop their reading and research skills by using
primary sources such as treatises, pamphlets, “broadsides,”
documents from legislative enquiries and debates, newspapers,
photographs, film, television, memoirs, novels, and plays related to
historical forms of feminism. As well, student speaking, debating,
and evaluation skills will be enhanced.
Text: There will be primary and secondary sources for each week of
work in the course on E-reserve, and several choices among text
books, for purchase or on library reserve.
Freedman, Estelle. "The Essential Feminist Reader." New York:
Random House, 2007.
_____. "No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of
Women." New York: Ballatine Books, 2003.
Offen, Karen. "European Feminisms, 1700-1950: A Political History."
Sanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. ISBN: 0804734208, Paper.
Requirements: weekly attendance, preparation, and notes; class
paper; office hour consultations; research essay; & final