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HISTORY 3WW3 Women in Canada&USA from 1920 (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: Online

Instructor: Dr. Karen Balcom


Office: Chester New Hall 608

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24152


Office Hours: Monday, 9:30 - 11:00, CNH 608 and by appt in person or by Skype

Course Objectives:

Welcome to History 3WW3/Women’s Studies 3GG3, an exploration of major themes in the history of Canadian and American Women in the twentieth century. This is a fully online course. There are two texts for you to purchase (through The Campus Store or other vendors) but otherwise all materials (lectures, films, documents) are presented online through the Avenue to Learn site for this course. The final exam is a time-limited take-home exam which you access online, complete at home and submit online.

Over the past forty years, research and writing on the history of women and gender history has not only brought us a richer knowledge of the diverse lives of Canadian and American women, it has transformed our understanding of the key social, economic, political and cultural processes shaping and re-shaping these societies and influencing the lives of men and women. Over the semester, we will sample this rich literature. The lectures and readings will follow a roughly chronological progression from the 1920s through 2018, but our narrative will be structured around three closely related topics: changes in women's (paid and unpaid) labor, conflicts over sexuality and reproduction, and the priorities and tactics of various women's movements. Throughout, we will pay careful attention to the diversity among Canadian and American women; there is not one history of North American women, but many - often conflicting and contradictory - histories of women of varying races, regions, ethnicities and sexual orientations. One of our major tasks will be to sort out which feminisms and which women's movements have helped, hindered or simply ignored which groups of women in Canadian and American society. At the end of the semester, we will pause to consider the most important similarities and the most significant differences in the experience(s) of Canadian and American women in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

This course may be counted toward the minor in women’s studies, a minor or major in history, and the MyOwnMac online degree programme through the Centre for Continuing Education.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

There are two short books to purchase, both of which are at The Campus Store, and both of which are more widely available as well. All other course materials are accessed online (mostly through the McMaster library collections which you access using your mac id and password.

Penni Mitchell, About Canada: Women’s Rights. Toronto: Fernwood, 2015.

Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry, Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements. Liveright: New York, 2015. (available in paper, Kindle, audiobook)

Method of Assessment:

1. Participation in your online learning group: 15%

Assessed across the term; required online discussion contributions and responses in each unit of the course. Details on how participation is assessed are available in the course handbook available on Avenue. See section “Understanding Your Learning Group and Participation.”

2. Three short writing assignments that you select and extend from amongst your previous posts to your learning group. (approx. 500-750 words each): 3 x 10% = 30%

LG Assignment #1 (Expand from one of your posts in Intro Week and Unit 1): September 30th

LG Assignment #2 (Expand from one of your posts in Units 2 or 3): October 28th

LG Assignment #3 (Expand from one of your posts in Units 3, 4 or 5): December 2nd

3. Proposal for Research Project: Due October 14th: 10%

(If you turn this in *early* by October 3rd, we will return by October 10th so that you can work on your paper during reading week)

Projects will begin with an individual, a group or an important event in Canadian or American women's history. Choose from a list we provide or propose your own individual or group -- perhaps one linked to your family history. You design (propose) a research question that lets you explore the importance or significance of your individual, group or event. The proposal is a written document, but it can be a proposal for a project that will be delivered as an essay, a podcast, a zine or a multimedia presentation. You can propose to work on your own, or with a small group. Approx. 750 words. We will have more details for you on Avenue, and we will explain this assignment in detail in a webinar. There will also be online support groups for students working on the same topic. Some topics will require you to do research in the McMaster library system, but there will always be options that can be completed from online resources for part-time and distance students.

4. Final Research Project: Due November 18th: 20% + 5% for 250 word profile

The proposal leads to a final research project. This project may be presented as a 2500 word essay, or an equivalent podcast, a zine or a multimedia presentation; this can be an individual project a small group project. As part of your project, you provide a 250-word profile (a short video or audio file is also possible) on your topic that could be posted to the course timeline for use by future students in HIS 3WW3/WS 3GG3.

5. Take Home Final Exam: Written during the McMaster Exam Period; submitted online 20%

6. Bonus Assignment (optional)

Develop an entry for our glossary. Approx. 250-500 words + any illustrations; multimedia welcome. 5% added to your final exam grade. Through the term; last date Nov. 27th

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments are late if they are not posted to the appropriate Avenue Dropbox by the date and time specified in the detailed instructions for that assignment. Generally, that time will be 11:59 pm on the indicated date. Late assignments are penalized at the rate of 3% per 24 hour period. A 24 hour period ends at 11:59 pm. Your posts and replies to the message board for your learning group will not be accepted beyond the date/time indicated in the instructions for each unit.

Extensions or other accommodations that do not fall under the terms of MSAF, RISO or a student's Academic Accommodation will be determined by Dr. Balcom.

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

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 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 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:

The course is divided into an Introduction, five 2-week units and a Conclusion.  There are video lectures, reading assignments, and viewing or listening assignments (films, podcasts, interviews, media archives) for each unit.  The details are laid out in the Checklist for each unit and video lecture.  You won't be able to miss the Checklist feature when you open the course in Avenue.

The list below gives you the topics and dates for the units, but the only reading included here is the reading from the purchased texts.  There will be additions, especially earlier in the semester.  Later in the semester, we will rely more on the purchased texts. In general, you can expect to be reading the equivalent of 3 academic journal articles or book chapters each week (60 – 90 pp.) plus the reading you will complete as you work on your research assignment.

You are generally able to move through the course at your own pace except that you are required to contribute to discussions in your online Learning Group at set intervals (posts, and replies to the posts of others). In addition, you will need to "stay with the group" (or ahead of the group) to complete your  Learning Group assignments. At the end of the introduction and each 2-week unit, you complete a very basic quiz in Avenue.  Successful completion of the quiz unlocks the next unit for you.

Introduction and Unit 1: Women's History, Feminist Waves and The First Wave (Intro: September 4 - September 9; Unit One: Spet. 10-23 )

Penni Mitchell, Women’s Rights. Chapter 4, 33-60 (Optional);  Chapter 5, 61-86 (Required)

Dorothy Cobble, Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry, Feminism Unfinished, Preface and Prologue.

Unit 2: After Suffrage/The 1920s (September 24 - October 7)

Women’s Rights, Chapter 6, pp. 87-113.                                                                                

Feminism Unfinished, Chapter 1, 1-16


Unit 3: Depression and War (October 15 - 28)

Women’s Rights, Chapter 7, pp. 114-127                                                                               

Feminism Unfinished, Chapter 1, pp. 16-36

Unit 4: Rebellion Stirs (October 29 - November 11)

Women’s Rights, Chapter 7, pp. 127-136; Chapter 8, 137-151                                                                                

Feminism Unfinished, Chapter 1, pp. 37-67 (and read ahead into Chapter 2)

Unit 5: Feminist Revolution (and a post-feminist word?) (November 12-25)

Women’s Rights, Chapter 8, pp. 151-194                                                                                  

Feminism Unfinished, Chapter 2, pp. 69-145 (and read ahead into Chapter 3)

Conclusion: Comparisons, Connections and Contemporary Challenges: November 26 - December 5

Women’s Rights, Chapter 9, pp. 195-206                                                                                  

Feminism Unfinished, Chapter 3, 147-220.

Other Course Information:

Special Needs

If you have special needs with your learning, you should inform me by the end of the second week of classes. We have made every effort to provide the lectures and other course materials in accessible formats, but if we have missed something you need, please let us know.  If you have an accommodation agreement through Student Accessibility Services (, 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.  You can – and should  - contact me even if you are still waiting for your documentation.

If you are not comfortable using the SAS service but you have a learning need, then you should be in touch with Dr. Balcom as soon as possible.

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 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 a career or future study, and information about scholarships.

In a personal or health crisis, you can always access help at the Student Wellness Centre (MUSC B101).

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: . If you are a Continuing Education Student (MyOWNMac) and you are looking for writing support, contact Dr. Balcom directly.

You might also explore the online tool Grammarly, which will point out errors in your prose and suggest corrections.  You can access a free version of Grammarly at There is also a premium version with more features.  Anyone with a McMaster email address can get a 50% discount on a subscription.  The use of Grammarly to improve your writing does not constitute a violation of the academic integrity policy.

Details, and more help with writing at: (click on Grammarly discount)

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

All written assignments should be presented 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  notes-bibliography variant of the 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 and 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 highlight). The easiest way to proceed is to print out this 3-4 page guide.  This format  - and indeed the process of using citations in the humanities/history may be new to some of you.  I will provide written guides (see Student Resources) and I will also present a webinar on this topic which you can watch live (and ask questions) or listen to on your own time.

Faculty of Humanities Email Policy as Adapted for this course

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 the 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. This policy includes email sent from the internal email system of Avenue to Learn.  For this course, all email to me or to the TA must be sent from your Avenue to Learn email. This allows us to keep an accurate record of course-related email apart from the larger volume of email to our general accounts.

Use of and Avenue to Learn’s Plagiarism Checking Function

In this class, the instructor may  submit an e-copy of your paper to the academic integrity checking service or the equivalent service operating inside Avenue to Learn.  If you have concerns about the use of turnitin on your work, it is your responsibility to read the McMaster guidelines and let your instructor know in advance. McMaster procedures and guidelines for turnitin are available at:

Research Notes and Extra Copies of Assignments

You must keep a printout, photocopy or e-copy of all assignments you submit.  You are also required to keep your research notes and drafts of your work and may be required to produce these materials.  Failure to do so may result in loss of credit for the assignment.