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HISTORY 4I03 Women In 19th- & 20th-Cent US

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Karen Balcom

Email: balcomk@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 608

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24152


Office Hours: In Person: Tuesday 12-2 CNH 608/By Skype Thursday 10-12

Course Objectives:

This course will examine the connection between women and movements for social change in the nineteenth and twentieth century U.S.  We will examine issues around which different (and sometimes conflicting) coalitions of American women have organized (from suffrage to reproductive rights to environmental activism) in ways that are sometimes the same as and sometimes different from men.  We will look at how the idea of a “women’s cause” has been mobilized to create a (sometimes fictive and often exclusionary) sense of purpose around a particular issue.  We will pay attention to differences between women, and to the potential for meaningful coalitions across lines of race, class, religion, or sexual orientation.  While our major focus will be on movements that might be described as “progressive” or “pro-woman,” we will also talk about conservative women and anti-feminist movements.  Students will prepare primary-source based research papers, working from sets of documents defined by the instructor and attached to a wide variety of course themes

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Texts

While much of the course material comes in the form of e-journal articles and online databases, the following items are available for purchase at The Campus Store.

Courseware for HIS 4I03

Kimberly Springer, Black Feminist Organizations, 1968-1980. Duke University Press, 2005.

For students who are uncertain of their background in U.S. History or Women’s History you might want to purchase a general textbook in US women’s history. This is OPTIONAL. One I have used before which is widely available is:

Nancy Cott, No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States. Oxford University Press, 2000 or newer edition.

I have not ordered copies of this book for The Campus Store, but you will be able to find copies (including abundant used copies) at the usual online outlets.  In the past, students have found it useful to keep a copy of Cott or of a general US survey text at hand as they read the more specialized articles assigned for the course.  I have some extra US history survey texts in my office, available free to any student who would like one.

You can also use the online US history textbook at Digital History: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/

Method of Assessment:



Class Participation                                                                   25%                 Throughout Term


Seminar Presentation                                                               5%                   Once/

                                                                                                                        As assigned


Proposal for Research Paper                                                   15%                 Feb. 9th


Analysis of Primary Source from Research                            15%                 March 1


Draft of Research Paper                                                                                  March 22

(Not graded, but there is a deduction from the final

paper if the draft is submitted late)


Written Critique of a Peer's Paper                                           10%                 March 29


Final Paper                                                                              30%                 April 12th

Grade may be divided between written paper (20%) and

a conference-style presentation (10%)


Brief Outline of Assignments: Extended Instructions on Avenue to Learn


Participation (25%)

Your class participation grade will be based on steady and consistent contributions to the class on a weekly basis. Seminars are much more fulfilling for everyone when you and your colleagues read all of the material, think about it, and come to class prepared to enter a meaningful discussion.  If you do not come to class prepared your grade will suffer, as will your experience of the class.  In order to contribute to the class, you must of course be present.  If you miss more than one class without an approved excuse (see MSAF guidelines below), your final grade will be affected.  I do expect to be notified in advance of any absences. More than two unexcused absences will result in a failing participation grade for the class.  Attendance alone is not sufficient to ensure a passing participation grade. You will do a self-assessment of your participation each week. Your participation in small group peer workshops is an important part of your participation in the class.


Seminar Presentation (5%)

Each student will take one turn presenting the week's reading to the class in a presentation lasting no more than 6 minutes in which you will identify key themes in the reading and suggest directions for discussion.  You will have at least one partner for your presentation, and you will need to coordinate in advance. 



Proposal for Research Paper (15%)

You will prepare a 5-6 page typed, double spaced proposal for your final research paper which will include a discussion of the historiography (secondary sources) relevant to your research, a discussion of the primary sources with which you are working, a working thesis for your paper, and a discussion of how the primary and secondary sources with which you are working will support this thesis.  This is very close to the model you followed in HIS 2HI3.Two copies of the proposal are due in class on Tuesday, Feb. 9th.  You will review this assignment with a peer on the day that it is due. Thus, it is very important that this assignment be complete on time. This assignment is late if it is not ready at the beginning of the class on Feb. 9th.  Late papers will be penalized at the rate of a 15% deduction per day.


Analysis of a Primary Source from your research (15%)

This short assignment (250-500 words) asks you to explore one of the primary sources you will use in your research paper. You are expected to use at least one of your secondary sources (from the same project) to contextualize and help you interpret the primary source. You will review this assignment with a peer on the day that it is due. Thus, it is very important that this assignment be complete on time. This assignment is late if it is not ready at the beginning of the class on March 1st.  Late papers will be penalized at the rate of a 15% deduction per day.


Critique of a Peer’s Research Paper (10%)

You will prepare a 500-750 word written critique of the research paper draft submitted by one of your colleagues. The ability to provide constructive criticism aiming to improve the work of a peer is a critical skill applicable in academe and in all workplaces. This critique will be shared with your peer, and will be graded by me.  You will present your critique to a small group inside the class on the day that paper drafts are reviewed. Thus, it is very important that this assignment be complete on time. This assignment is late if it is not ready at the beginning of the class on March 1st.  Late papers will be penalized at the rate of a 15% deduction per day.


Research Paper (30%)

Your final project for the term will be a research paper drawn largely from primary sources, but situating your analysis of the primary sources in the existing secondary literature. To manage the task of assembling such a paper in the course of one term, I have identified a series of easily accessible primary source collections tied to the course reading and themes. We will look at collections of documents in our class on January 12th.

Students with a well-defined research project or a particular interest in a topic not appearing here are welcome to discuss their ideas with me, but we need to have this conversation before the end of the second week of classes.

Drafts of your research papers must be posted to Dropbox in Avenue by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, March 22nd. Four other students will read your draft and one other student will prepare a written critique of your draft. Thus, it is very important that your papers be turned in on time. If you are late, you put pressure on other students. .  Late papers are penalized at the rate of 15% per day, to be deducted from your grade for the final paper.  Because other students need to read your work before the next class, these deadlines and penalties will be very strictly adhered to.

The due date for the final copy of your research paper is Friday, April 15th, by 4 pm.  Your paper should be handed directly to me, or left in the History Department Drop Box. Late papers will be penalized at the rate of 15% per day.

We will organize a conference in early April where students will give ten-minute conference-style presentations based on their research papers.  The conference will be open to all class members (as audience and presenters) and to other faculty and students and guests who might wish to attend. This will be an excellent opportunity to present your research to a larger audience, and to mark your achievements as a senior undergraduate student. Participation in the conference is required, but students can choose whether or not they want this presentation to count for part of their grade for the final paper.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Please see the Method of Assessment Section of this syllabus for information on late penalties for each assignment.

Please see the section of this syllabus with the university policy around MSAF adn RISO.  Additional course policies around MSAF and other extensions are outlined below.

Requests for Extensions to Deadlines/McMaster Student Absence Form Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by Dr. Balcom and will only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation. Absences of less than 3 days may be reported using the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF), which you will find in the MOSAIC Student Center under Academics. It is your responsibility to read the policy thoroughly before submitting the form. If you are unable to use the MSAF, you should document the absence with the Student Advising office. In all cases, it is YOUR responsibility to follow up with me immediately to see if an extension or other accommodation will be granted, and what form it will take. There are NO automatic extensions or accommodations. If you submit an MSAF form, the next thing you should do is contact me.  Please note that when you are asked for an email for me on the MSAF form, you should use this email:  balcomk@mcmaster.ca.  The MSAF system cannot email to Avenue.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Class Agenda:

Check Avenue to Learn for Any Changes as we proceed. 

There will be a reading guide posted for you each week.

January 5th               Introduction: The History of Women, The History of Women's Activism

YES: There is reading for the first week

Ellen DuBois, "Women's and Gender History in Global Perspective: North America after 1865," in Bonnie Smith (ed.), Women's History in Global Perspective. Vol. 3. Urbana, University of Chicago Press, 2005: 222-252. CW


January 12th               Women and Social Movements/Digging Through Primary Sources and Brainstorming Projects

Class will meet in the Connections Room at Mills Library

Temma Kaplan, "Female Consciousness and Collective Action: The Case of Barcelona, 1910-1918," Signs, Vol. 7, No. 3 (1982): 545-566. E-journal

Kathleen Blee, "Introduction: Women on the Left, Women on the Right," in Kathleen Blee (ed.), No Middle Ground: Women and Radical Protest.  New York: NYU Press, 1998: 1-15. (esp. 1-9 definitions of radicalism, left and right radicalism, idea of "protopolitical" protest) CW

Benita Roth, "What are Social Movements?  What is Gendered About Women's Participation in Social Movements?" Posted on the Women and Social Movements Website

McMaster Library - Articles and Databases - Women and Social Movements - Browse - Document Projects - Choose the First Project ""What are Social Movements?  What is Gendered About Women's Participation in Social Movements?" Read the Introduction by Roth.

January 19thAnti-Lynching Movements

Preparation: From the Digital History textbook: The chapter titled “Along the Color Line,” but especially the section on Lynching: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=11&smtID=2 (Scroll down to find Along the Color Line, and hen follow the hyperlinks) OR sections from Cott or other US history textbook

Jacqueline Jones Royster, Southern Horrors and Other Writings:  The Anti-Lynching

Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1997: 1-14, 27-33.  CW

Jack Jordynn and Lucy Massagee, "Ladies and Lyching: Southern Women, Civil Rights and the Rhetoric of Interracial Cooperation," Rhetoric and Public Affairs 14, no. 3 (Fall 2011): 493-510. E-Journal Article.

Thomas Dublin, Kathryn Kish Sklar and Karen Vill, "How Did Southern Black and White Women Campaing to End Lynching, 1890 - 1942," Women and Social Movements Database.

McMaster Library - Articles and Databases - Women and Social Movements - Browse - Document Projects - Choose "How Did Southern Black and White Women Campaign to End Lynching, 1890 - 1942." Specific items TBD.

Jan. 26th:       The Struggle for Suffrage

Preparation: From The Digital History Textbook: Read the chapter on the suffrage movement at: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=11&smtID=2 (Scroll down to find The Struggle for Women's Suffrage) OR sections from Cott or other US history textbook

Gail Landsmen, "The Other as Political Symbol: Images of Indians in the Woman Suffrage Movement," Ethnohistory 39, no. 3 (Summer 1992): 247 - . E-Journal

Suzanne Lebsock, "Woman Suffrage and White Supremacy: A Virginia Case Study," in Nancy Hewitt and Suzanne Lebsock (eds.), Visible Women: New Essays on American Activism.  Urbana: University of Chicago Press, 1993: 62-100. CW

Manuela Thurner, "Better Citizens Without the Ballot: American Anti-Suffrage Women and their Rationale During the Progressive Era," Journal of Women's History, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring 1993): 33-60. E-journal

February 2nd:           "Housewife" Activism

Preparation: From the Digital History textbook: The chapter titled 1930s, especially sections on The Human Toll and The Dispossessed. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=14&smtid=2 ;  From Digital History: The chapter titled 1945-1960, beginning with sections on The Second Red Scare through to Paranoid Style, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=16&smtid=2

Dana Frank, "Housewives, Socialist and the Politics of Food:  The 1917 New York City Cost of Living Protests," Feminist Studies 11, no. 2 (Summer 1985): 255-285. E-Journal

Annelise Orleck, "'We Are That Mythical Thing Called the Public': Militant housewives during the great depression," Feminist Studies 19, no. 1 (Spring 1993): 147  - . E-Journal.  If you look up this article in America: History and Life, you can link to a computer voice rading this to you in an American accent, a British accent or an Australian accent.  I find it annoying, but you might find it fun.

Amy Swerdlow, "Ladies Day at The Capitol: Women Strike for Peace Versus HUAC," Feminist Studies 8, no. 3 (Fall 1992): 493-520. E-Journal.

February 9th:  The Second Wave Emerges/Proposals Due

Linda Gordon and Rosalyn Baxandall, "Second Wave Feminism," in Nancy Hewitt (ed.), A Companion to American Women's History.  Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002: 414-32.  CW

Feb 16th:  No Class Meeting/Reading Week

Feb. 23rd:  Black Feminisms

Kimberly Springer, Black Feminist Organizations, 1968-1980. Duke University Press, 2005.

March 1: Reproductive Rights as Feminist Issue/Analysis of Primary Sources Assignment Due

Jennifer A. Nelson, "Abortions Under Community Control": Feminism, Nationalism, and the Politics of Reproduction among New York City's Young Lords," Journal of Women's History, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring 2001): 157-180. E-Journal

Joanna Schoen, "Between Choice and Coercion: Women and the Politics of Sterilization in North Carolina, 1929-1975," Journal of Women's History, Vol. 13, no. 1 (Spring 2001). E-Journal

Sally Torpy, "Native American Women and Coerced Sterilization: On the Trial of Tears in the 1970s," American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 24, no. 2 (2000): 1-22. E-Journal

March 8: Women and Grassroots Environmental Activism

Amy Hay, “Recipe for Disaster: Motherhood and Citizenship at Love Canal,“ Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 21, no. 1 (2009): 111-134. Online Journal Article

Kamala Platt, “Chicana Strategies for Success and Survival: Cultural Poetics of Environmental Justice form the Mothers of East Los Angeles,”  Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 18, no. 2 (1997): 48-72. Online Journal Article.

Jael Silliman et al., "The Mothers Milk Project," in Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Rights. Cambridge, Mass: South End Press, 2004: 123-141. CW

March 15th: The Art and Culture of Feminism

Lisa Gail Collins, “Activists who yearn for art that transforms: Parallels in the Black Arts and Feminist Arts Movements in the United States,” Signs: A Journal of Women and Culture, Vol. 31, no. 3 (2006): 717-752. Online Journal Article.

Kristen Raizada, “An Interview with the Guerilla Girls, Dyke Action Machine (DAM!) and the Toxic Titties,” NWSA Journal, Vol. 19, no. 1 (2007): 39-58. Online Journal Article

Rachel V. Kutz-Flamenbaum, “Code Pink, Raging Grannies, and the Missile Dick Chicks: Feminist Performance Activism in the Contemporary Anti-War Movement,” NWSA Journal, vol. 19, no. 1 (2007): 89-105. Online Journal Article

And, one of:

Kate McCarthy, “Not Pretty Girls? Sexuality, Spirituality and Gender Construction in Women’s Rock Music,” Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 39, no. 1 (2006): 69-94. Online Journal Article.

[Tori Amos/Ani DiFranco]


Layli Phillips et al., “Oppositional Consciousness Within an Oppositional Realm: The Case of Feminism and Womanism in Rap and Hip Hop, 1976-2004,” Journal of African American History, Vol. 90, no. 3 (2005): 253-277.

March 22: No class meeting, Research Paper Drafts Due

Post to Avenue Dropbox by 11:59 pm

March 29: Peer Review of Research Paper Drafts/Critique Assignment Due

April 5th:  HIS 4I03 Conference Presentations.

April 12th: Final Version of Research Papers Due


Other Course Information:

Assessment of Assignments

Your written work will be graded on analytical and factual content, and on the quality of your written expression.  The production of clear, technically proficient and well-organized prose is an essential skill. 


You are welcome to meet with me to discuss improving your writing, but I also encourage you to use other resources on campus available through the Student Success Centre: http://studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca/academic-skills.html



As a McMaster student you also have access to the online tool Grammarly, which will point out errors in your prose and suggest corrections.  Find out about Grammarly at http://studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca/academic-skills/writing-support-services.html

(click on the resources tab) 


There are links to other writing and editing tools and checklist posted under Student Resources on our Avenue to Learn site.

All written assignments should be in formal English; that is, no slang, contractions or point form (except as specified in assignment instructions). For simplicity across the many backgrounds of our students, we have chosen the author-date variant of Chicago Style of Citation as the required model for academic citations in this class. To find a model for citing various kinds of sources in the notes-bibliography version of Chicago, you can look at an online version of the Chicago manual of Style available through our library. (Search: Chicago Manual of Style online, look for the Quick Guide Link, choose the notes-bibliography tab). The easiest way to proceed is to print out this 3-4 page guide.  As fourth year students, you should be well aware of when and how to use citations, but I am always here for specific questions.

Special Needs

If you have special needs regarding note taking, recording lectures, or completing assignments you should inform me by the end of the second week of classes. If you have an accommodation agreement through Student Accessibility Services (http://sas.mcmaster.ca), please bring it to me (or inform me that it is coming) by the second week of classes. I want to help you, but I have to know what you need.

Support Services
The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. The library help desk can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and http://sas.mcmaster.ca/. The Student Success Centre helps with academic skills and academic support but also organizes community service opportunities and helps with on campus employment, planning for career or future study, and information about scholarships. http://studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca/

You Quote It/You Note It

This is a great online tutorial from Acadia University that will take you through the fine points of academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism.  You can link to this tutorial at: ibrary.acadiau.ca/sites/default/files/library/tutorials/plagiarism

Use of Turnitin.com

In this class, The instructor may request an e-copy of your paper for submission to the academic integrity checking service turnitin.com.  McMaster procedures and guidelines for turnitin are available at: http://mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity/turnitin/students/index.html.