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POLSC303: Feminist Politics

Unit 2: First Wave Feminism   *Historians tend to divide the feminist movement into three waves.  Though there is not a strong consensus on the exact dates defining each wave, we can safely make some generalizations.  The First Wave of feminism occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The overarching goal of this wave was demand for more opportunities for women, with a particular focus on suffrage.  The Second Wave started in the 1960s and continued into the early 1990s.  This wave was informed by anti-war and civil rights movements, as well as by the growing self-consciousness of minority groups around the world.  The Third Wave of feminism started in the mid-1990s and focuses on poststructuralist notions of gender, the body, and sexuality.  Though there are alternative ways to organize the study of feminist politics, for the bulk of this course we will engage with each wave of feminism along this chronological pathway, ending with issues that fuel feminist politics today.

he First Wave of feminism had its origin in the European Enlightenment, but it was not until the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” that the movement really gained momentum.  We will read Wollstonecraft’s thesis, as well as the writings of several other early feminist theorists.  Additionally, we will engage with many of the key issues of the First Wave, which focused on political equality and citizens’ rights, including voting rights (suffrage), ownership of private property, and access to education.  It is important to note that many First Wave feminists, including Wollstonecraft and Susan B. Anthony, would likely be considered politically conservative today.  This is not true of Emma Goldman, who we will also discuss in this unit.*

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 20.75 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 17.25 hours

 

☐    Sub-subunit 2.1.1: 15 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 2.1.2: 2.25 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2: 3.5 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Identify the main arguments of early feminist writers Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill. - Describe and evaluate the role that Sojourner Truth played in early feminism. - Identify the perspective portrayed in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and what it reflects about women’s experiences at the time it was written. - Evaluate Emma Goldman’s influence on early and modern feminism. - Define anarchist feminism. - List and explain key issues in First Wave feminism.

2.1 Foundations in the European Enlightenment   2.1.1 Liberal Beginnings   2.1.1.1 Mary Wollstonecraft   - Reading: Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) Link: Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire text (Chapters I through XIII).  Mary Wollstonecraft’s book is considered one of the firstpublished feminist treatises in Europe.  In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, she discusses women’s sexual lives, the need for voting rights, and access to education.  Wollstonecraft’s book influenced activists in the suffrage movement in the United States, including Susan B. Anthony.  This reading should take you approximately 10 hours to complete.
 
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2.1.1.2 John Stuart Mill   - Reading: John Stuart Mill’s “The Subjection of Women” (1869) Link: John Stuart Mill’s “The Subjection of Women” (1869) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read John Stuart Mill’s essay.  John Stuart Mill argues for the emancipation of women, contending that gender inequality permeates the social and legal fabric of the modern state.  This reading should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.
 
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2.1.1.3 Sojourner Truth   - Reading: PBS’s This Far by Faith: The Faith Project’s “Sojourner Truth” Link: PBS’s This Far by Faith: The Faith Project’s “Sojourner Truth” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire webpage. Sojourner Truth was famously born a slave who, in the early 1800s, fought racist and sexist oppression through her words and deeds.  She introduced an element of diversity into a largely white, aristocratic feminist movement.  This reading should take you approximately 20 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Sojourner Truth’s “Keeping the Thing Going While Things Are Stirring” Link: Sojourner Truth’s “Keeping the Thing Going While Things Are Stirring” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read Truth’s address to the First Annual Meeting of the American Equal Rights Association in New York City on May 9, 1867.  Even after the Civil War, Sojourner’s speech remains important to the anti-racism, feminist canon.  This reading should take you approximately 15 minutes to complete.
     
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  • Web Media: C-SPAN Video Library: “Sojourner Truth and Women’s History” Link: C-SPAN Video Library: “Sojourner Truth and Women’s History” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: After reading about Sojourner Truth in the biography above, and also her famous speech, “Keeping the Thing Going While Things Are Stirring,” watch a re-enactment of her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech.  Sojourner Truth was among the first to publicly contest what many people of color perceived as the racial bias in early feminism.  This web media assignment should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete. 
     
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2.1.1.4 Charlotte Perkins Gilman   - Reading: College of Staten Island Library: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1899) Link: College of Staten Island Library: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1899) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story.  First published in 1892 in The New England Magazine, “The Yellow Wallpaper” continues to serve as an expression of feminist frustrations with culturally assigned expectations for women.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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2.1.2 Radical and Anarchist Feminism   2.1.2.1 Emma Goldman   - Lecture: iTunes U: Claremont Graduate University, Women’s Studies, Bradshaw Conference 2012: Vivian Gornick’s “Emma Goldman and Modern Feminism” Link: iTunes U: Claremont Graduate University, Women’s Studies, Bradshaw Conference 2012: Vivian Gornick’s “Emma Goldman and Modern Feminism” (iTunes U)
 
Instructions: Emma Goldman, famous for her commitment to women’s rights and anarchist philosophy, was born in what is now Lithuania in 1869 and moved to the United States in 1885.  Goldman played an important role in the development of anarchism in the U.S. and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.  Listen to the entirety of Vivian Gornick’s lecture on Emma Goldman and her influence on modern feminism.  This lecture should take you approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete.
 
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2.1.2.2 Anarchist Feminism and Its Expressions   - Reading: Emma Goldman’s “Anarchism: What It Really Stands For” (1917) Link: Emma Goldman’s “Anarchism: What It Really Stands For” (1917) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Goldman was highly influential in radical feminism as well as in anarchist politics in the early twentieth century in the U.S. more generally.  Read the essay from Goldman’s 1917 book, Anarchism and Other Essays.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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2.2 Key Issues in the First Wave   2.2.1 Women’s Suffrage   - Web Media: PBS: “Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony” Link: PBS: “Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony” (Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and go through each of the sections of this presentation (1-20).  Think about both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the modern context.  How would their goals and achievements be made more accessible as well as more challenging by our modern 24-hour cable news environment?  Studying this resource should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
 
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2.2.2 Employment   - Reading: Great American Documents: Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Seneca Falls Keynote Address” (July 19, 1848) Link: Great American Documents: Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Seneca Falls Keynote Address” (July 19, 1848) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s famous speech, calling for independence for women in both the public and private realms.  The speech is modeled on the Declaration of Independence.  Studying this reading should take you approximately 20 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Lecture: YouTube: Library of Congress: Sheridan Harvey’s “Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II” Link: YouTube: Library of Congress: Sheridan Harvey’s “Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and view the entire lecture.  This short Library of Congress video discusses the lives of women workers in the Second World War.  It is meant to give you a sense of the variety of jobs women worked in during the conflict.  This lecture should take you approximately 15 minutes to complete. 
     
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  • Web Media: History.com’s “Rosie the Riveter” Link: History.com’s “Rosie the Riveter” (HTML, Flash)
     
    Instructions: Rosie the Riveter, who represents American women who worked in factories during the Second World War, has become a feminist symbol.  Spend at least 1 hour reading some of the articles and watching the videos at History.com about the evolution of “Rosie the Riveter.”
     
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2.2.3 Right to Private Property   - Reading: Rutgers University, The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Papers Project: “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” Link: Rutgers University, The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Papers Project: “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire report of the declaration at the Woman’s Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls during July 19 and 20, 1848.  Note in your reading of the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments the demand of American women to own private property.  This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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