Penn State Harrisburg American Studies/Women Studies 104: Women and the American Experience Spring 2015 Instructor: Kathryn Holmes

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Penn State Harrisburg
American Studies/Women Studies 104: Women and the American Experience
Spring 2015
Instructor: Kathryn Holmes

Time: MWF 1:25-2:15 PM
Class Location: 212E Olmsted
Contact Information:
Telephone: Office: (717) 948-6020 Cell Phone: (801) 792-8533
Office Hours:
MWF 2:30-3:30 PM or by appointment
Required Texts:
Evans, Sarah. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. New York: Free Press Paperbacks, 1997. ISBN: 978-684-83498-6.
Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Dover publications, 2009. ISNB: 978-0486419312.
May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. Basic Books: 1988. ISBN: 978-0465030545.
Course Description:
“For most of history Anonymous was a woman,” Virginia Woolf said. Many times history is told from a white male’s perspective, but in this class we will look at women’s history written by women. We will examine the idea of womanhood in America and how it has changed throughout history by finding answers to the following questions: How have women’s economic, political, and social roles developed over time? What cultural influences played a part in the expectations placed on women? What obstacles did women face in the fight for full citizenship? Students will use primary documents such as literature, art, film, magazines, and become familiar with academic scholarship in American women’s and gender studies. We will also utilize the Alice Marshall Collection in the Library to contextualize our discussions. Classes will be a mixture of lectures, discussions, and group work. Requirements include exams, class participation, and a project on a historical theme in Women’s Studies placed in a contemporary context.
Course Objectives:

  • To develop skills in interpreting and contextualizing primary sources.

  • To craft a scholarly argument and support it with textual evidence.

  • To be able to identify major contributions to feminist issues throughout American history.

  • To be able to identify ways that cultural themes manifest themselves throughout history.

Course Requirements 1000 pts:

  • Participation (100 pts, 10%) – Determined from attendance, contributions to class discussion, and small group participation.

  • Quizzes & Writing Responses (100 pts, 10%) – Five to six quizzes, as well as five to six writing responses will occur throughout the semester based upon assigned reading and previous lecture material.

  • Midterm (200 pts, 20%)

  • Final (200 pts, 20%)

Response papers (150 pts, 15%) – Students choose two reading assignments (marked with ★), one before the midterm and one after, to provide a 1-2 page response.

  • Final Project (250 pts, 25%) – Includes written portion and final presentation; a guide is provided on ANGEL

Exams: Will be based off of readings and class lectures. A study guide will be provided.

Response Papers: You will choose two of the assigned readings listed on the syllabus notated with ★ and will respond to the essay/chapter/article through the provided questions.. This is not a research paper, but citations are required for any outside source used. Students must notify the instructor of their choices by using the dropbox on ANGEL by January 16th at Midnight. Please include the date of the article, author, and essay title in the dropbox Papers are due within one week of the reading assignment due date at class time (1:25 PM). If the reading is due on Wednesday, the paper is due the following Wednesday. Use the dropbox on ANGEL to turn in the papers. No hard copy will be accepted. Late papers will have 5 points deducted per day late.


Write a 1-2 page double-spaced response that answers these questions:

a. Do you agree or disagree with the author’s conclusions? Please provide 3 reasons why.

(Often, students back themselves into a corner and try to argue both sides. Pick ONE.)

b. What conclusion do you come to about this topic after reading this article? What did you learn from reading this article?

Response Rubric: 50 points per response, total of 100

Thesis/Focus/Clarity 10 Support/Reasoning 10

Organization 10 Sources 10

Spelling/Grammar 10 Total 50

Final Project: Students will choose one cultural artifact that they can connect to one of the issues we have studied over the semester. An example could be a magazine ad that promotes a hyper-sexualized image of women. Students must clear their artifact with the instructor by February 23rd. Students will write a 5 page paper explaining how their artifact connects to American women, and analyze its importance in women’s studies. They will also be expected to give a brief (roughly 5 minute) presentation representing their work.

Final Paper:

Thesis/Focus/Clarity 20 Support/Reasoning 20

Organization 20 Sources 20

Spelling/Grammar 20 Total 100


Clear/Audible 20 Support/Reasoning 20

Organization 20 Time Management 20

Knowledge of Subject 20 Total 100

Paper Proposal: Students are responsible for a one page proposal about the artifact they wish to focus their final project on. They must also provide three scholarly sources (not Wikipedia) that can support how their item is important to women’s studies. This will be worth 25 points.

Rough Draft: A week before the final draft is due, Students are expected to provide a copy of their paper for a writing workshop. Students will also be expected to read through and comment on their peer’s papers. This will be worth 25 points.

Statement of Policies:
Academic Integrity: According to Penn State policy 49-20, “Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an education objective of this institution. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. The instructor can fail a student for major infractions.” For more information, see 00.html#49-20. The instructor reserves the right to use Turnitin as a plagiarism detection tool.
Cancellations Due to Weather: When the Provost and Dean makes the decision to close the Harrisburg campus or delay the start of classes, the regional media will be notified at least two hours prior to the standard 8:00 a.m. reporting time for staff and before the start of the earliest scheduled class. The college will make its announcement in the following ways:

a. The college's web page at will carry a message regarding the 36 status of classes.

b. The university's email system will also be used to notify email subscribers about a weather emergency. Additionally, students, faculty, and staff are invited to register for PSUAlert at The service will feature enhanced messaging capabilities and robust integration with the University’s other communications platforms.

c. An announcement will be placed on the college's AUDIX telephone system at the 948-6000 and 948-6029 numbers.

d. For information on the campus’s weather emergency policy, including media outlets carrying cancellation notices, see

Attendance and Participation: Students are expected to be in class, having completed the assigned reading beforehand, and ready to participate. Students will be granted four absences without penalty (provided they do make up work), but students who miss more than four class meetings will lose one letter grade per class. Class will hinge largely on the reading, group work, and discussions, so it is imperative that students do the reading. Participation grades will be largely determined by student’s ability to intelligently contribute to class discussions.
Late Work: Students are expected to turn work in on time. Late assignments will be marked down and risk being failed. If there are extenuating circumstances, let the instructor know immediately.
Technology: Technology is a great thing. Students are welcome to take notes on laptops. However, the instructor holds the right to wave this privilege should it become apparent that students are using their laptops for things unrelated to the day’s discussion. Cell phones should be put away and set to silent during class time.
Disability Services and Accessibility: Penn State is committed to providing a positive learning environment for every student. If you have a disability that requires special accommodations please contact the instructor immediately, so that special arrangements can be made.


(Subject to change; Revised calendars will be available through ANGEL)

Week 1: January 12-16
1/12 Course syllabus and introduction
1/14 What is American Studies?

Read: Encyclopedia of American Studies, “American Studies: Approaches and Concepts”

1/16 What is American Studies cont.

*Response Paper Topics Due*
Week 2: January 19-23
1/19 Human Right’s Day/No Class
1/21 Native American Women

Read: Evans, Ch. 1

★ Ulrich, The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of the American Myth, Ch. 7 “Molly Ocket’s Pocketbook”
1/23 Colonial Era

Read: Evans, Ch. 2 “The Demographic Basis of Witchcraft.”

Week 3: January 26-30
1/26 Colonial Era

★Read: Carol F. Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman

1/28 Revolution!

Read: Evans, Ch. 3 “Remember the Ladies”

1/30 Revolution!

Read: Charles W. Akers, Abigail Adams: An American Woman

Week 4: February 2-6
2/2 A Young Nation

Read: Evan, Ch. 4

★Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860”
2/4 A Young Nation

Sarah Joseph Hale and Catherine Beecher: Domestic Feminism

2/6 The Civil War Era

Read: Evans, Ch. 5

Week 5: February 9-13
2/9 The Civil War Era


“Civil War Women” through the US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks; read online exhibit and view images and video:
2/11 The Civil War Era

Read: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

2/13 The Civil War Era

Incident’s in the Life of a Slave Girl

Week 6: February 16-20
2/16 President’s Day/No Class
2/18 Archives
2/20 Archives
Week 7: February 23-27
2/23 The Civil War Era

★Alice Fahs, “The Feminized Civil War: Gender, Northern Popular Literature, and the Memory of the War, 1861-1900”

*Paper proposals due*
2/25 The Gilded Age

Read: Evans, Ch.6

2/27 Read:

★ [Short Story] Charlotte Perkins Gillman, “The Yellow Wallpaper,”(1892)

Week 8: March 2-6
3/2 *Midterm*
3/4 The New Woman

Read: Evans, Ch.7

3/6 Madame X and The Gibson Girl

Read: Evans, Ch. 8

★Lois Banner, American Beauty
Week 9: March 9-13
Spring Break
Week 10: March 16-20
3/16 Migrant Mother and the Great Depression

Read: Evans, Ch. 9

“Exploring Contexts: Migrant Mother,” American Women, Library of Congress:

3/18 World War II

Read: Evans, Ch. 10

3/20 WWII

★ Yvonne Tasker, Soldiers’ Stories: Military Women in Cinema and Television Since WWII

Week 11: March 23-27
3/23 The Cold War:

Read: Homeward Bound

3/25 The Cold War:

Read: Homeward Bound

3/27 The Cold War, Containment, and Consumerism

Read: Homeward Bound

Week 12: March 30-April 3
3/30 The Feminine Mystique

Read: Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, Ch. 1 “The Problem That Has No Name.”

4/1 Women and the Civil Rights Movement

Read: Evans, Ch. 12

4/3 Women and the Civil Rights Movement

Read: Mary Fair Burks, “Women and the Montgomery Bus Boycott,”

Anne Standley, “The Role of Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement,”

★Vicki Crawford, “Beyond the Human Self: Grassroots Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

Week 13: April 6-10
4/6 Subversive Women: Women and the Black Panther Party

Read: James, “Framing the Panther: Assata Shakur and Black Female Agency,”

Cleaver, “Women, Power, and Revolution,”

★Linda Lumsden, “Good Mothers with Guns: Framing Black Womanhood in the Black Panther, 1968-1980”

4/8 Women’s Right’s Movement

Read: Evans, Ch. 13

4/10 Women’s Right’s Movement

Read: “Before and After Roe v. Wade:,

Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision:
Week 14: April 13-17
4/13 Women Today

Read: Evans Ch. 14

4/15 Women Today

Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin:

Women in contemporary politics
4/17 Women and Popular Culture

Read: Choose one from The Oprah Phenomenon, edited by Jennifer Harris and Elwood Watson; located on ANGEL; be prepared to discuss the details of the essay you chose in class.

★Stanley, “The Spector of Oprah Winfrey: Critical Black Female Spectatorship”

★Pereira, “Oprah’s Book Club and the American Dream”

★Howard, “From Fasting toward Self-Acceptance: Oprah Winfrey and Weight Loss in American Culture”
Week 15: April 20-24
4/20 *Writing Workshop*

Bring a rough draft of your paper to class for peer review.

4/22 Women and Popular Culture:

Read From Mouse to Mermaid Introduction

4/24 Woman and Popular Culture

Princess Culture

Week 16: April 27-May 1
4/27 Presentations

*Papers Due*
4/29 Presentations
5/1 Presentations
Week 16: May 4-8:
Finals Week
Schedule TBD

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