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The Paradox of Educated Women in the Early American Republic
In Mere Equals, Lucia McMahon narrates a story about how a generation of young women who enjoyed access to new educational opportunities made sense of their individual and social identities in an American nation marked by stark political inequality between the sexes. McMahon's archival research into the private documents of middling and well-to-do Americans in northern states illuminates educated women's experiences with particular life stages and relationship arcs: friendship, family, courtship, marriage, and motherhood. In their personal and social relationships, educated women attempted to live as the "mere equals" of men. Their often frustrated efforts reveal how early national Americans grappled with the competing issues of women's intellectual equality and sexual difference.
In the new nation, a pioneering society, pushing westward and unmooring itself from established institutions, often enlisted women's labor outside the home and in areas that we would deem public. Yet, as a matter of law, women lacked most rights of citizenship and this subordination was authorized by an ideology of sexual difference. What women and men said about education, how they valued it, and how they used it to place themselves and others within social hierarchies is a highly useful way to understand the ongoing negotiation between equality and difference. In public documents, "difference" overwhelmed "equality," because the formal exclusion of women from political activity and from economic parity required justification. McMahon tracks the ways in which this public disparity took hold in private communications. By the 1830s, separate and gendered spheres were firmly in place. This was the social and political heritage with which women's rights activists would contend for the rest of the century.
Academic Freedom and Liberalism at UNC
Established in 1789, the University of North Carolina is the oldest public university in the nation. UNC’s reputation as one of the South’s leading institutions has drawn some of the nation’s leading educators and helped it become a model of the modern American university. However, the school’s location in the country’s most conservative region presented certain challenges during the early 1900s, as new ideas of academic freedom and liberalism began to pervade its educational philosophy. This innovative generation of professors defined themselves as truth-seekers whose work had the potential to enact positive social change; they believed it was their right to choose and cultivate their own curriculum and research in their efforts to cultivate intellectual and social advancement. In To Carry the Truth: Academic Freedom at UNC, 1920–1941, Charles J. Holden examines the growth of UNC during the formative years between the World Wars, focusing on how the principle of academic freedom led to UNC’s role as an advocate for change in the South.
Crime, Campus, and Community
On the basis of extensive on-site research, Karen G. Weiss offers a case study of crime victimization at an American "party school" that reverberates beyond a single campus. She argues that today's party school--usually a large public university with a big sports program and an active Greek life--represents a unique environment that nurtures and rewards extreme drinking, which in turn increases the risks of victimization and normalizes bad behavior of students who are intoxicated. Weiss shows why so many students voluntarily place themselves at risk, why so few crimes are reported to police, and why victims often shrug off their injuries and other negative consequences as the acceptable cost of admission to a party.
Andrew J. Kirkendall provides a transnational, archives-based study of Brazilian Paulo Freire (1921-1997), a major Third World (as it was called in that era--now known as the developing world or even the global South) intellectual and shaper of international literacy education during the Cold War. The study serves as both the first-ever political biography of the man and an examination of the politics of literacy in Latin America and beyond in the Cold War period. Throughout the twentieth-century, when governments of many political stripes embraced literacy education as a crucial element of efforts to fuel economic growth, political inclusion, and international development, Freire pioneered a highly influential, internationally adopted “consciousness raising” approach featuring mass literacy education campaigns that sought to engage, in a political fashion, the illiterate. Freire’s often controversial campaigns--which aroused the suspicion of the U.S. government and lead to his exile from Brazil for sixteen years--played transformative roles in many places, helping to build, overthrow, and reform governments from Brazil and Chile to Nicaragua and newly independent Portuguese African countries. His pedogogical ideas were influential in the United States, as well.
The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1209-1310
One of the enduring ironies of medieval history is the fact that a group of Italian lay penitents, begging in sackcloths, led by a man who called himself simple and ignorant, turned in a short time into a very popular and respectable order, featuring cardinals and university professors among its ranks. Within a century of its foundation, the Order of Friars Minor could claim hundreds of permanent houses, schools, and libraries across Europe; indeed, alongside the Dominicans, they attracted the best minds and produced many outstanding scholars who were at the forefront of Western philosophical and religious thought.
In The Poor and the Perfect, Neslihan Şenocak provides a grand narrative of this fascinating story in which the quintessential Franciscan virtue of simplicity gradually lost its place to learning, while studying came to be considered an integral part of evangelical perfection. Not surprisingly, turmoil accompanied this rise of learning in Francis's order. Şenocak shows how a constant emphasis on humility was unable to prevent the creation within the Order of a culture that increasingly saw education as a means to acquire prestige and domination. The damage to the diversity and equality among the early Franciscan community proved to be irreparable. But the consequences of this transformation went far beyond the Order: it contributed to a paradigm shift in the relationship between the clergy and the schools and eventually led to the association of learning with sanctity in the medieval world. As Şenocak demonstrates, this episode of Franciscan history is a microhistory of the rise of learning in the West.
This examination of key issues in New Mexico public education emphasizes policies and trends that will remain dominant in shaping schools and curricula in the state. Educational reform is a constant in New Mexico, as is the influence of politics since nearly one-half of the state's budget goes to education. But several other significant themes emerge. The vignettes included throughout the text are included to offer human interest touches to our New Mexico story.
New South Governors and Education, 1968-1976
In southern politics, 1970 marked a watershed. A group of southern governors entered office that year and changed both the way the nation looked at the South and the way the constituents of those states viewed themselves. Reubin Askew in Florida, John West in South Carolina, Jimmy Carter in Georgia, and Albert Brewer in Alabama all represented a new breed of progressive moderate politician that helped demolish Jim Crow segregation and the dual economies, societies, and educational systems notorious to the Sunbelt South. Historian Gordon Harvey explores the political lives and legacies of three of these governors, examining the conditions that led to such a radical change in political leadership, the effects their legislative agendas had on the identity of their states, and the aftermath of their terms in elected office.
A common thread in each governor's agenda was educational reform. Albert Brewer's short term as Alabama governor resulted in a sweeping education package that still stands as the most progressive the state has seen. Reubin Askew, far more outspoken than Brewer, won the Florida gubernatorial election through a campaign that openly promoted desegregation, busing, and tax reform as a means of equal school funding. John West's commitment to a policy of inclusion helped allay fears of both black and white parents and made South Carolina's one of the smoothest transitions to integrated schools.
As members of the first generation of New South governors, Brewer, Askew, and West played the role of trailblazers. Their successful assaults on economic and racial injustice in their states were certainly aided by such landmark events as Brown v. Board of Education, the civil rights movement, and the expansion of voting rights-all of which sounded the death knell for the traditional one-party segregated South. But in this critical detailing of their work for justice, we learn how these reform-minded men made education central to their gubernatorial terms and, in doing so, helped redefine the very character of the place they called home.
Conservatives and the 1974 Kanawha County Textbook Controversy
In Reading Appalachia from Left to Right, Carol Mason examines the legacies of a pivotal 1974 curriculum dispute in West Virginia that heralded the rightward shift in American culture and politics. At a time when black nationalists and white conservatives were both maligned as extremists for opposing education reform, the wife of a fundamentalist preacher who objected to new language-arts textbooks featuring multiracial literature sparked the yearlong conflict. It was the most violent textbook battle in America, inspiring mass marches, rallies by white supremacists, boycotts by parents, and strikes by coal miners. Schools were closed several times due to arson and dynamite while national and international news teams descended on Charleston.
A native of Kanawha County, Mason infuses local insight into this study of historically left-leaning protesters ushering in cultural conservatism. Exploring how reports of the conflict as a hillbilly feud affected all involved, she draws on substantial archival research and interviews with Klansmen, evangelicals, miners, bombers, and businessmen, a who, like herself, were residents of Kanawha County during the dispute. Mason investigates vulgar accusations of racism that precluded a richer understanding of how ethnicity, race, class, and gender blended together as white protesters set out to protect "our children's souls."
In the process, she demonstrates how the significance of the controversy goes well beyond resistance to social change on the part of Christian fundamentalists or a cultural clash between elite educators and working-class citizens. The alliances, tactics, and political discourses that emerged in the Kanawha Valley in 1974 crossed traditional lines, inspiring innovations in neo-Nazi organizing, propelling Christian conservatism into the limelight, and providing models for women of the New Right.
Women Teaching African American, Native American, and Chicano/a Students, 1865-1911
Refiguring Rhetorical Education: Women Teaching African American, Native American, and Chicano/a Students, 1865-1911 examines the work of five female teachers who challenged gendered and cultural expectations to create teaching practices that met the civic and cultural needs of their students.
The volume analyzes Lydia Maria Child’s The Freedmen’s Book, a post–Civil War educational textbook for newly freed slaves; Zitkala Ša’s autobiographical essays published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1900 that questioned the work of off-reservation boarding schools for Native American students; and Jovita Idar, Marta Peña, and Leonor Villegas de Magnón’s contributions to the Spanish-language newspaper La Crónica in 1910 and 1911—contributions that offered language and cultural instruction their readers could not receive in Texas public schools.
Author Jessica Enoch explores the possibilities and limitations of rhetorical education by focusing on the challenges that Child, Zitkala Ša, Idar, Peña, and Villegas made to dominant educational practices. Each of these teachers transformed their seemingly apolitical occupation into a site of resistance, revising debilitating educational methods to advance culture-based and politicized teachings that empowered their students to rise above their subjugated positions.
Refiguring Rhetorical Education considers how race, culture, power, and language are both implicit and explicit in discussions of rhetorical education for marginalized students and includes six major tenets to guide present-day pedagogies for civic engagement.