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HISTORY 3W03 Women In Canada&Usa To 1920

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Ruth Frager

Email: frager@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 631

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24133


Office Hours: Mondays, 3:30-5:30

Course Objectives:

Course Description:

This course will examine selected topics in the history of women in Canada and the United States. While many of the readings focus on the U.S., we will be comparing the position of women in the two countries. Topics to be explored include: the impact of "civilization" on indigenous women, the status of women in colonial society, the impact of the American War of Independence, the struggles against slavery, women's domestic roles, women’s employment, and the development of the women's rights movements in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Course Objectives:

Students will learn to analyze key aspects of women’s history while building their critical thinking skills. The assignments are meant not only to build students’ knowledge of this field but also to encourage students to hone their writing abilities.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The main textbook is:

- Sara M. Evans, Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America (Toronto: Simon and Schuster, 1997).

 The other required readings will either be available online through the library catalogue or will be posted on the website for this course (on Avenue to Learn).


Method of Assessment:

There will be discussion sessions if the class size is suitable and if appropriate time slots can be worked out. Two grading schemes are presented below: Plan A is the scheme we will use if there are discussion sessions; Plan B is the scheme to be used if there are not.  In past years, we have always been able to implement Plan A, and it is likely that we will be able to implement Plan A again in September.

Grade break-down (Plan A):

Class Participation (incl. discussion papers).....15%

Essay Proposal.................................................. 10%

Essay (approx. 2,500 words).............................40%

Final Exam........................................................35%

Grade break-down (Plan B):

Essay Proposal...................................................10%

Essay (approx. 2,500 words).............................50%

Final Exam.........................................................40%

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Students are expected to hand in all written work at the beginning of class on the specific due dates. Please note that if we are using Plan A, late discussion papers will not be accepted (since they are designed to enhance the class discussion). If other work is late, it will be penalized 3% per day (including Saturdays and Sundays) in order to be fair to those students who hand their work in on time. Since the graded essay proposal is designed to help you write a strong essay, essay proposals that are more than one week late will not be accepted. No essays will be accepted after the last day of classes in December, unless the student officially obtains deferred status. Please note that extensions or other accommodations will normally be determined by the instructor and will usually only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation.

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:

Weekly Schedule:

Please note:

* A reading that is preceded by a single asterisk is available online via the McMaster Library Catalogue (as an e-book or an article in an e-Journal)

**A reading that is preceded by a double asterisk is available as a pdf file on our Avenue to Learn site.

1) Wednesday, 6 September: Introduction to Main Themes and Issues



2) Week of 11 September: Stages and Challenges of Women’s History


- *Alice Kessler-Harris, “The So-What Question,” Frontiers (2015), vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 12-16.

- **Kate Haulman, “Defining `American Women’s History,’” in Mary Beth Norton and Ruth M. Alexander, eds., Major Problems in American Women’s History (fourth edition: 2007), pp. 2-8.

- *Leslie M. Alexander, “The Challenge of Race: Rethinking the Position of Black Women in the Field of Women’s History,” Journal of Women’s History, vol. 16, no. 4 (2004), pp. 50-60.



3) Week of 18 September: Indigenous Women in the Early Years of Contact with Europeans


- *Carol Devens, "Separate Confrontations: Gender as a Factor in Indian Adaptation to European Colonization in New France,” American Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 3 (1986), pp. 461-480.

- **Jan Noel, “`Fertile with Fine Talk’: Ungoverned Tongues among Haudenosaunee Women and Their Neighbours,” in Lara Campbell, Tamara Myers, and Adele Perry, eds., Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History (seventh edition: 2016), pp. 45-59.

- Evans, Chap. 1



4) Week of 25 September: Women and Resistance in British North America


- **Rusty Bitterman, “Women and the Escheat Movement,” in Janet Guildford and Suzanne Morton, eds., Separate Spheres: Women’s Worlds in the 19th-Century Maritimes, pp. 23-38.

- *Afua Cooper, “Acts of Resistance: Black Men and Women Engage Slavery in Upper Canada, 1793-1803,” Ontario History, vol. XCIX, no. 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 5-17.



5) Week of 2 October: Euro-American Women in Colonial America


- **“Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century America,” in Mary Beth Norton, ed., Major Problems in American Women’s History (first edition: 1989), pp. 49-81.

- Evans, Chap. 2


(9-12 October: Fall Reading Week)




The proposal should be handed in to the instructor in the lecture hall, just before the start of the lecture.




6) Week of 16 October: The American War of Independence


- **“Abigail and John Adams’s `Remember the Ladies’ Letters, 1776,” in Mary Beth Norton and Ruth M. Alexander, eds., Major Problems in American Women’s History (second edition: 1996), pp. 77-78.

- **Joan Hoff, “The Negative Impact of the American Revolution on White Women,” in Mary Beth Norton and Ruth M. Alexander, eds., Major Problems in American Women’s History (second edition: 1996), pp. 83-94.

- **Mary Beth Norton, “The Positive Impact of the American Revolution on White Women,” in Mary Beth Norton and Ruth M. Alexander, eds., Major Problems in American Women’s History (second edition: 1996), pp. 94-103.

- Evans, Chap. 3



7) Week of 23 October: Constructing True Womanhood — And Its Opposite


- *Barbara Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860,” American Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 2, part I (1966), pp. 151-174.

- **Theda Perdue, “Southern Indians and the Cult of True Womanhood,” in Walter J. Fraser, Jr., et al., eds., The Web of Southern Social Relations: Women, Family, and Education (Athens, Georgia, 1985), pp. 35-51.

- *Sarah Carter, “Categories and Terrains of Exclusion: Constructing the `Indian Woman’ in the Early Settlement Era in Western Canada,” in Catherine A. Cavanaugh and Randi R. Warne, eds., Telling Tales: Essays in Western Women’s History (2000), pp. 60-81.



8) Week of 30 October: Utopian Communities?


- **Lawrence Foster, "Celibacy and Feminism: The Shakers and Equality for Women," chap. 2 in Foster's Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1991), pp. 17-42.

- **Selections from Carol A. Kolmerten, Women in Utopia: The Ideology of Gender in the American Owenite Communities (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1990), pp. 1-12 and 79-101.

- Evans, Chap. 4



9) Week of 6 November: Women’s Paid Labour and Women’s Workplace Protest (part 1)


- **“Two Essays from The Lowell Offering, 1840,” in Mary Beth Norton, ed., Major Problems in American Women’s History (first edition, 1989), pp. 172-175.

- **“Mary Paul’s Letters, 1845-1848,” in Mary Beth Norton, ed., Major Problems in American Women’s History (first edition, 1989), pp. 175-177.

- **Thomas Dublin, “The Solidarity of Women in the Lowell Mills,” in Mary Beth Norton, ed., Major Problems in American Women’s History (first edition, 1989), pp. 180-188.





The essay should be handed in to the instructor in the lecture hall, just before the start of the lecture.




10) Week of 13 November: Women’s Paid Labour and Women’s Workplace Protest (part 2)


Film: Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl


- *Graham S. Lowe, "Women, Work, and the Office: The Feminization of Clerical Occupations in Canada, 1901-1931,"Canadian Journal of Sociology, vol. 5, no. 4 (1980), pp. 361-379.

- *Alice Kessler-Harris, "`Where Are the Organized Women Workers?,'" Feminist Studies, vol. 3, no. ½ (Fall 1975), pp. 92-110.



11) Week of 20 November: Women, Women’s Rights, and Abolitionism


Film: Rebel Hearts: The Grimke Sisters


- **Carolyn Williams, “The Female Antislavery Movement: Fighting against Racial Prejudice and Promoting Women’s Rights in Antebellum America,” in Jean Fagan Yellin and John C. Van Horne, eds., The Abolitionist Sisterhood (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 159-177.

- **Shirley J. Yee, “Sowing the Seeds of Black Feminism,” chap. 6 in Yee’s Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1992), pp. 136-154.

- **"Declaration of Sentiments, 1848" (The document of the Seneca Falls Convention) (Available in Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart, eds., Women's America, (third edition: 1991), pp. 528-531.)

- Evans, Chap. 5



12) Week of 27 November:

Part 1: Suffrage and Social Reform

Part 2: Women and World War I

Film: And We Knew How to Dance: Women in World War I (NFB)


- **Veronica Strong-Boag, "`Ever a Crusader': Nellie McClung, First-Wave Feminist," in Veronica Strong-Boag and Anita Clair Fellman, eds., Rethinking Canada (second edition: 1991), pp. 308-321. (Also available in the first and third editions of this anthology)

- Evans, Chaps. 6 & 7



13) Week of 4 December:

Part 1: Prejudice and Tensions in the Women's Movements

Part 2: Looking Back and Looking Ahead


- *Mariana Valverde, "`When the Mother of the Race is Free': Race, Reproduction, and Sexuality in First-Wave Feminism," in Franca Iacovetta and Mariana Valverde, eds., Gender Conflicts: New Essays in Women's History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), pp. 3-26.

- *Nancy Schrom Dye, "Creating a Feminist Alliance: Sisterhood and Class Conflict in the New York Women's Trade Union League, 1903-1914," Feminist Studies, vol. 2, no. 2/3 (1975), pp. 24-38.

- **Jane Sherron De Hart, “The New Feminism and the Dynamics of Social Change,” in Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart, eds., Women’s America: Refocusing the Past, Fifth Edition, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 589-617.


Other Course Information:

The full course outline provides additional information for students who will be taking this course.