conference work



  Revolutionary Women: Syllabus

 Soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution, date unknown

Click here for:
Reading Assignments
Writing Assignments
Conference Projects       
Schedule of Readings and Reading/Discussion Questions

Appendix on Conference Work 

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Seminar reading
All of our texts are on reserve at the library or available on line. The books listed below are also on sale at the bookstore. Additional reading will be distributed to the class, and some on-line material is linked to this syllabus.

For discussion in class:
Bonnie Anderson, Joyous Greetings: the First International Women's Movement, 1830-1860

Ann Braude, Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America

Stephen Eric Bronner, Rosa Luxemburg: A Revolutionary for Our Times

Luisa Capetillo, A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out/Mi opinión sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer

James West Davidson, "They Say": Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race

Barbara Engel, Five Sisters: Women against the Tsar

Gay Gullickson, Unruly Women of Paris: Images of the Commune

Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Sultana's Dream and Padmarag

Butch Lee, Jailbreak Out of History: The Re-Biography of Harriet Tubman & "The Evil of Female Loaferism"

Nell Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol

Queen of the Neighbourhood Collective, Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils

Kathryn Sklar, ed., Women's Rights Emerges Within the Anti-Slavery Movement, 1830-1870

Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History (9th edition, 2017)

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Class papers and presentations:
Over the course of the year, every member of the seminar will read and present a short paper (5 pages) on a book that supplements seminar readings. See the class schedule for options. Books assigned for presentation are in the campus library's collection but not on reserve. Papers will be posted on the course website.

Reading notes:
Students must hand in copies of their notes on texts read for class. Notes will be collected weekly and returned in batches on October 9 and December 18.

Seminar meetings:

Every student is expected to attend every class. In preparation for our meetings, please review the discussion questions included in this syllabus. They'll provide the starting points for our discussions.

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Conference Projects

Students may undertake conference projects on any aspect of the history of revolutionary women in the United States and/or other countries. For guidelines, see the appendix to this syllabus. Here are the due dates for various phases of conference work:
Sunday, November 4 (before noon) - prospectus and bibliography (Please note the revised due date.)
December 18 - detailed outline
January 29 - first draft of the conference paper

When we reconvene after the winter break, the whole seminar will read each student's first draft and discuss it in class. Conference papers will be expanded, revised, and polished in the spring.

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 C l a s s   S c h e d u l e




9/11 Introduction to the Course

Syllabus; scheduling; assignment of class presentations and first readings for conference projects; distribution of Sheila Rowbotham, Women, Resistance, and Revolution: A History of Women and Revolution in the Modern World.



9/18 Sheroes

Seminar reading: Queen of the Neighbourhood Collective, Revolutionary Women
This book offers portraits (both words and images) of thirty women whose collective histories span almost two hundred years and cover the globe. What do these women seem to have in common; what are the points of difference; and what do their commonalities and differences suggest in the way of questions that we can take to our studies of revolutionary women over the next nine months?

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9/25 The Long View

Seminar reading: Rowbotham, Women, Resistance, and Revolution
As Rowbotham's introduction notes, this book explores ways that people have thought about and acted upon the idea "that the liberation of women necessitates the liberation of all human beings" (11). Her survey encompasses more than three centuries of history and takes us around the world. What overarching patterns emerge, and how are they best explained?

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10/2 Declarations of Rights

Seminar reading: Anderson, Joyous Greetings
Although there is now a great deal of scholarship on the history of women's activism in the United States, Britain, France, and Germany, Anderson is the only historian who has written about the transnational movement examined in Joyous Greetings. Why do you suppose this movement was so thoroughly forgotten?

Option for class paper and presentation:
Lisa Tetrault, The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women's Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898

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10/9 Revolutions of the Spirit

Seminar reading: Painter, Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth took part in various reform movements, from Christian perfectionism and abolitionism to temperance and women's rights. What connected her diverse activities?

Options for class papers and presentations:
Valerie Cooper, Word, Like Fire: Maria Stewart, the Bible, and the Rights of African Americans
Carol Faulkner, Lucretia Mott's Heresy: Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America

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10/16 Sisters Against Slavery

Seminar reading: Sklar, ed., Women's Rights Emerges Within the Anti-Slavery Movement
Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote,                                  chapter 2 (on reserve at the library)
Juxtaposing these readings, we can see that historical documents certainly do not speak for themselves; they need to be interpreted. If Rosalyn Terborg-Penn were to write an introduction to the same documents collected in Kathryn Sklar's book, how might her interpretations differ from Sklar's? How do you account for that difference?

Options for class papers and presentations:
Lea VanderVelde, Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery's Frontier
Aisha Finch, Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the Insurgencies of 1841-1844

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10/23 OCTOBER STUDY DAYS - no seminar meeting



10/30 "A Faith Based on What We Know and Have Seen"Larger than Life

Seminar reading: Braude, Radical Spirits
Ann Braude's (original) introduction to this book describes it as an effort to illuminate "the role of individual human intentionality and experience in shaping, as well as being shaped by, the world in which we live" (9). How did her study of spiritualism and women's rights lead her to emphasize individual agency, and what are the implications for historians of revolutionary women?

Option for class paper and presentation:
Nancy Hewitt, Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds

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11/6 Reconceptualizing the Past
Seminar reading: Lee, Jailbreak Out of History
Butch Lee describes herself online as an "Amazon theorist [whose] work deals with the need to understand women's struggles in both their class and military dimensions, as well as the fundamental importance of grasping the relationship between colonialism, neo-colonialism, and patriarchy." In Jailbreak Out of History, she applies these modern concerns and categories of analysis to the histories of Harriet Tubman and other Black women activists of the nineteenth century. What are the advantages and limitations of this approach?

Option for class paper and presentation:
Milton Sernett, Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History

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11/13 As the Twig is Bent
Seminar reading: Davidson, "They Say"
Unlike other studies of Ida B. Wells, this one focuses on her life before she earned an international reputation as a crusader against lynching. What does the book reveal about her motives for undertaking that campaign?

Option for class paper and presentation:
Crystal N. Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching

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11/20 "Vive la Commune!"
Seminar reading: Gullickson, Unruly Women of Paris
Gay Gullickson had initially envisioned this book as a social history of women in the Paris Commune, but it evolved into a study of the ways accounts of the Commune portray women. Her introduction to Unruly Women posits, in fact, that "the verbal and visual representations of women that appear in the texts of the Commune are the key to understanding its meaning for its participants and for subsequent generations" (11). Does the book vindicate such a bold claim in behalf of discourse analysis? Clearly, there are things gained when we turn from social history to the study of representations, but are there also things lost? Can the two approaches be combined?

Option for class paper and presentation:
Carolyn J. Eichner, Surmounting the Barricades: Women in the Paris Commune

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11/27 Enemies of the State
Seminar reading: Engel, Five Sisters: Women Against the Tsar
This book offers the memoirs of five Russian anarchist women committed to "propaganda of the deed"--violent acts intended to spread the message of revolution. What led them to this form of activism?

Options for class papers and presentations:
Carolyn Ashbaugh, Lucy Parsons: An American Revolutionary
Louise Michel, Red Virgin: Memoirs of Louise Michel

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12/4 The Personal is Political
Seminar reading: Capetillo, A Nation of Women/Mi opinión
In this collection of essays, originally published in 1911, Luisa Capetillo insists that women's unfettered practice of "free love"--an anarchist ideal--requires their economic independence and that the latter goal cannot be achieved unless men become more responsible fathers and more faithful lovers. What's your assessment of this formula for women's liberation?

Option for class paper and presentation:
Eileen Suárez Findlay, Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920

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12/11 Sisterhood is Powerful
Seminar reading: Hossain,
Sultana's Dream and Padmarag
Written by a Bengali Muslim woman in the early twentieth century, these works of utopian fiction rest on the proposition that women can construct revolutionary alliances that transcend divisions of class, caste, ethnicity and so on. In light of all of our reading for this term, what do you make of this proposition?

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12/18 Celebration

HAND IN A DETAILED OUTLINE OF THE CONFERENCE PAPER (one hard copy in class and one MS Word copy via email)

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Reading for the winter break, to be discussed in class on January 22:
Bronner, Rosa Luxemburg: A Revolutionary for Our Times (on sale at the bookstore)
Ingeborg Kaiser, Rosa and the Wolves: Biographical Investigation into the Case of Rosa Luxemburg (will be distributed to the class)

Rosa and the Wolves falls somewhere between biography and fiction. Although Ingeborg Kaiser never met her subject, she feels that she knows Rosa Luxemburg very well and strongly identifies with her. Can we develop real intimacy with historical figures who died long before we were born? Does identification with our subjects enhance our understanding of their lives, or are we merely projecting our own modern sensibilities onto the past?

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Conference projects

First-year graduate students who take this course for full credit must produce full-fledged research papers, based on interpretation of historical documents. Others who take the course for full credit are welcome to opt for alternatives such as historiographical essays, annotated bibliographies, or annotated collections of primary documents. Off-campus internships are also an option if they lead to projects that involve substantial reading and writing. Graduate students who take the course as an elective need not undertake conference work.

Prospectus and preliminary bibliography (due November 6)

- State the central question that informs your project, and summarize your preliminary thesis in response to that question. (Rhetorical questions aren't helpful here. Zero in on whatever it is you are actually trying to figure out.)

- Comment on your project's significance to historians of revolutionary women and/or to the agency that sponsors your internship. What will you add to existing knowledge?

- Summarize your research plan: What specific topic (event, organization, social policy, etc.) are you studying? What have you done to track down relevant scholarship and historical documents? If you need to consult texts that aren't at the campus library, where are they and how will you get your hands on them? If you need to interview people, what arrangements have you made?

- Outline your timetable for completing various phases of your research. (Be circumspect. It's better to complete a relatively small project than to leave a big one half done.)

- Include a bibliography of published material you plan to use (not every pertinent text you've identified). The bibliography should distinguish between primary and secondary sources. If you will also use unpublished material, describe it briefly and note its location.

Outline (due December 18)

The outline should organize your paper, paragraph by paragraph. Note the main argument each paragraph will make and the evidence it will present in support of that argument. Use the outlining process to work through conceptual issues and organizational problems. Don't stint on this part of the project. If you do the job right, outlining your first draft may require as much time as does writing it, and the outline may be almost as long as the paper.

Document the outline. Note the source(s) of evidence each paragraph will present. Append a bibliography that covers all of your sources, published or archival. To construct footnotes and bibliographic entries, follow the rules and templates found in Mary Lynn Rampolla's Pocket Guide to Writing in History (9th edition), on sale at the bookstore and on reserve at the campus library.

First draft (due January 29)

Proofread and copy-edit your work. To document the paper, follow the rules and templates found in Rampolla's Pocket Guide to Writing in History. Complete and correct documentation is a must.

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