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History of American Women (Syllabus)

HIST 247: History of American Women
When: Monday & Wednesday 4:30-5:45 PM
Where: Mandeville Hall 223
Instructor: Dr. Dillon J. Carroll
Office: 204 Bryant Hall
Email: dicarrol@bridgeport.edu
Office Hours: Tue/Thur 2:00-2:50 PM or by appointment

 The Course

 This course will be primarily focused on American women. It shall focus on a wide variety of women, including women of different races and ethnicities, and women from different socioeconomic backgrounds. We shall be examining how women contributed to the economy, politics, and society of America. We will also be examining how expectations about gender, class, and society limited women’s freedoms, and how some women pushed back against those limits. This course will mostly be examining flashpoints in the history of gender in America, points in time when an influential struggle took place, or when barriers were knocked down. However, we shall also be examining men in this class as well. Masculinity shall be our main focus, and we will be paying attention to how manhood and its expectations changed.


Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart, eds., Women’s America: Refocusing the Past, 7th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Course Reader (available on canvas)

It is my hope that you will come to class having read the assigned materials for the day. If you come to class having not read the material, the lectures and discussions may seem strange and foreign to you. If you do not participate in the discussions your grade will suffer. I have learned that an effective way to make sure that students are keeping up with their assigned readings is to administer quizzes. I will be administering reading quizzes nearly every week. When assigned, you are expected to have read the assigned documents. In addition, come to class with the printed documents in hand and be ready to engage in discussion of those documents.


In order to gauge whether you are indeed reading and engaging the material, I will be assigning regular quizzes. The quizzes will be multiple choice or short answer, or a combination of both I will drop the lowest scored quiz before grades are tallied. Quizzes will not be administered the day a paper is due. Quizzes are by far the most important aspect of your grade. You must keep up with your quizzes or this class will be quite difficult.


I will be taking attendance for this course. You have 2 absences on the house. These 2 absences are free of charge. What this means is, if you are absent for whatever reason, do not send me a doctors note, or a note from your lawyer, or a note from mom and dad. Use 1 of your 2 free absences. If you are absent from class more than 2 days points will be deducted from your overall participation score. Cases of serious emergencies will be considered, in other words, if you catch the Hantavirus and are in the hospital fighting for your life I will be granting leniency for your absence. Everything must be documented. What this means is, if you are subject to a serious emergency and you feel I should be lenient with your absence, please come to me with some form of documentation. If you simply show up to class and tell me that you caught Malaria and could not come to class, I will not be lenient with your absence. 

 Class Behavior

You have responsibilities as a student in this (and every class). Below are some responsibilities expected of you in this course:

1. Please show up on time. Everyone is late now and again, and I simply ask that you try and enter the room as quietly as you can so you do not distract your fellow students or me. If you are consistently late to class, I will start counting you as absent.

2. Show up prepared. It is your responsibility to show up to class with the assigned readings. You need to bring the book that readings are assigned from, as well as any extra assigned readings or documents. You can print these extra readings/documents, or bring them on a laptop, ipad, reader. It also recommended you show up with something to take notes with.

3. Do not use the Internet. In my time as a teaching assistant I sat in the back of the class each semester and watched students with laptops scroll on Facebook or search the internet, basically doing anything but taking notes. If this only affected you I would not care, but it distracts your fellow students as well. Therefore, please stay off the Internet. Do not use laptops unless you are accessing readings/documents during class or discussion.

4. Do not use your cell phone for any reason. If there is an emergency and you need to be notified, tell your family to contact the school and the school will contact you. Using your phone distracts your fellow students, and it distracts me (I can notice someone on their phone versus someone taking notes). Do not text during class, and do not place your phone on your desk waiting for texts. Do not wear headphones during class.

Academic Honesty

As a student at the University of Bridgeport, you have agreed to abide by a Code of Honor. You may not know that, but that does not mean you did not agree to uphold the principles of honesty that UB supports. By agreeing to the Honor Code you agree that you will pursue your coursework with integrity and honor, and that you will neither give nor receive unauthorized assistance. Plagiarism, of any kind, will not be tolerated, and I am legally obligated to report academic dishonesty to the student affairs council. If you do not know what this is please consult the student handbook. Plagiarism will result in a 0 for the assignment and I will recommend further action by the student disciplinary committee.


Quizzes:          30%

Papers:           30%

Discussion:     10%

Midterm:         30%

* Assignments may change throughout course

Course Schedule

 Part I: Colonial Period

Week 1: Gender and Early America

Tu 8/30                       Introduction   

Th 9/1                         Native Americans and Gender

Reading: Course Documents (available via Canvas) Europeans Describe Indian Courtship and Marriage, pp. 67-69; The Expertise of Indian Women, pp. 22-23; Dehgewanus Describes Her Work, pp. 11-112; in Berkin and Horowitz, eds., Women’s Voices, Women’s Lives.

Gabriel Sagard, The Long Journey to the Country of the Hurons (http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=633)

Christian Le Clercq, New Relations of Gaspesia, with the Customs and Religion of the Gaspesian Indians


Week 2: Gender and the Revolution

Tu 9/6                         Gender in Colonial America

Th 9/8                        Women and the American Revolution

Quiz 1

Reading: Linda K. Kerber, “The Republican Mother and the Woman Citizen: Contradictions and Choices in Revolutionary America,” in Women’s America, 147-158; Documents: Supporting the Revolution, in Women’s America, 134-137; Portions of Judith Sargent Murray, “On the Equality of the Sexes” (available on canvas)

Week 3: Midwifery

 Tu 9/13                       Midwifery and Colonial America

Th 9/15                       Martha Ballard

Reading: Reading: Jane Beal, Martha Ballard: Midwife of Maine, 1778-1812; Document: read portions of Martha Ballard’s diary (available on canvas)

Week 4:          Antislavery Movement

Tu 9/20                       Antislavery Movement

Th 9/22                       Discussion

Reading: Susan Zaeske, “Signatures of Citizenship: Debating Women’s Antislavery Petitions,” in Women’s America, 224-232; Documents, Claiming Rights I, in Women’s America, 233-238.

Paper 1 Due

Week 5:          Women and Suffrage

Tu 9/27                       Seneca Fall Convention

Th 9/29                       Discussion

Reading: Gerda Lerner, “The Meanings of Seneca Falls, 1848, 1860,” in Women’s America, 257-263; Documents: Claiming Rights II, in Women’s America, 264-268; Documents: The Women’s Centennial Agenda, 1876, in Women’s America, 331-340.

Week 6: Slavery I

Tu 10/4                       Slavery in the Colonies

Th 10/6                       Slavery in the New Republic

Quiz 2

Reading: Begin reading Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl  

Week 7:          Slavery II

Tu 10/11                     Slavery in Antebellum America

Th 10/13                     Midterm Exam

Reading: Continue reading Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Week 8:          The Civil War

Tu 10/18                     The American Civil War  

Th 10/20                     Female Nurses in the War

Reading: Jane E. Schultz, “The Inhospitable Hospital: Gender and Professionalism in Civil War Medicine,” Journal of Women in Culture and Society Vol. 17 No. 2 (1992); Civil War Nursing Documents (all available via canvas)

Paper 2 Due

Week 9:          Gender and the Jim Crow South

Tu 10/25                     Reconstruction and the birth of Jim Crow

Th 10/27                     Women in the Jim Crow South

Quiz 4

Reading: Glenda Gilmore, “Forging Interracial Links in the Jim Crow South,” in Women’s America, 300-309. Documents: Ida B. Wells, “Southern Horrors,” other documents in course reader.

Week 10:        Gender and Mental Health

Tu 11/1                       History of Mental Illness

Th 11/3                       Women and Asylums

Reading: Reading: Suzanne Poirier, “The Weir Mitchell Rest Cure:  Doctor and Patients.” Women’s Studies 10 (1983): 15-41; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper, read Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper, all available via canvas
Quiz 5

Week 11:         Women and WWII

Tu 11/8                       WWII

Th 11/10                     Women and the War

Paper 3

 Reading: Blanche Wiesen Cook, “Storms on Every Front: Eleanor Roosevelt and Human Rights at Home and in Europe,” in Women’s America, 523-529; course documents

Week 12:        The Pill

Tu 11/15                     Creation of the pill

Th 11/17                     Birth control and gender
Quiz 6

Reading: Beth L. Bailey, “Prescribing the Pill: The Coming of the Sexual Revolution in America’s Heartland,” in Women’s America, 629-636; course documents


Week 14: Women and the Civil Rights Movement

Tu 11/29                     History of the Civil Rights Movement

Th 12/1                       Women and the Civil Rights Movement

Quiz 7

Reading: Danielle L. McGuire, “Sexual Violence and the Long Civil Rights Movement,” in Women’s America, 591-605; course documents

Week 15: Betty Friedan and the Origins of Feminism

Tu 12/6                       Betty Friedan

 Th 12/8                       Discussion

Quiz 8

Reading: Daniel Horowitz, “Betty Friedan and the Origins of Feminism in Cold War America,” in Women’s America, 577-590; Documents: Making the Personal Political, in Women’s America, 691-718; Documents: Dimensions of Citizenship III, in Women’s America, 719-747.

Week 16: Finals Week






Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy

History of the American Civil War and Reconstruction (Syllabus)