Women in American Society
Dr. Tracy Sachtjen
(626) 585-3279, C-349
M @ 10:25am-1:25pm
T @ 11:30am-Noon
W @ 10:25am-12:25pm
This course investigates women’s roles in U.S. history and contemporary society. Covering three periods of American life, we will study how women’s roles have changed in response to cultural conflict and political movements. We’ll start with an introduction to women’s history and the analysis of gender. We’ll then move back historically into the colonial experiment of the 1600s and 1700s, in the world of contact among indigenous communities, European settlers, and African migrants. As you’ll learn, gender served as a point of comparison (and as often, confusion) among the different peoples of colonial North America. From there, we’ll move to the early republic, when women’s roles shifted in response to the Revolutionary War. How could a nation suffused with the language of equality accord women second-class status? How did racial slavery shape the changing ideas about women’s natures? As we move forward through the 1800s, we’ll study how industrialization, emancipation and immigration changed the family economy and the definitions of citizenship. What kinds of conflict did various women – emancipated, leisured women, working class immigrants, for example – experience? Stepping into the twentieth century, we’ll examine how the glittering world of commerce allowed women to assert themselves as modern and as culturally American. Finally, our study of the post-Civil Rights era explores modern women’s movements and feminist critique. Across all periods, the diversity of women’s experiences will be emphasized.
As part of our exploration of gender and women’s lives, we'll examine historical events – family scandals, acts of rebellion, the rise of “raunch culture” – to see how everyday American women have responded to social or political disaffection. Our focus, then, will be on cultural struggle, or the ways in which people make meaning out of the conflict and confusion at hand. Our wide variety of materials, from historical investigation and primary documents to biographies and cultural critique, amounts to an exciting interdisciplinary look at American life.
There is a Blackboard site for this course: http://pcc.blackboard.com/ You’ll find course material there, including lecture outlines, class updates, and required readings, which are marked (BB) on the syllabus.
Grading & Expectations
Grading will follow the standard scale:
A = 90 – 100; B = 80 – 89; C = 70 – 79; D = 60 – 69; F = 59 and below Written Work: There are no exams in this course, only papers. Topics will be posted on the (BB). All essays will be at least five pages and will ask you to analyze course material. No late papers will be accepted.
Grading is as follows:
• Attendance & Participation (20% of total course grade) Full attendance and active participation are required. Prepare the assigned readings before you walk into the classroom. Due dates for assignments are listed on the schedule that follows. We will also do plenty of in-class work, so be prepared. Arrive awake, aware, and on time. PCC policy states that after three absences (excused or unexcused), I can drop you. My policy is that missing more than three means I may drop you but also that it will be difficult to pass the course. Do not miss for consecutive weeks.
Participation grade breakdown:
present in every class session; always prepared, having read fully and considered the details, ideas and themes of the readings; speaks in nearly every class session; does not get off-topic during small group discussion; meets with professor in office hours; sends occasional emails to the professor, discussing ideas or misunderstandings
present in most...
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