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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > Gender Studies

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Driving Women Cover

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Driving Women

Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America

Deborah Clarke

Over the years, cars have helped to define the experiences and self-perceptions of women in complex and sometimes unexpected ways. When women take the wheel, family structure and public space are reconfigured and re-gendered, creating a context for a literary tradition in which the car has served as a substitute for, an escape from, and an extension of the home, as well as a surrogate mother, a financial safeguard, and a means of self-expression. Driving Women examines the intersection of American fiction—primarily but not exclusively by women—and automobile culture. Deborah Clarke argues that issues critical to twentieth-century American society—technology, mobility, domesticity, and agency—are repeatedly articulated through women's relationships with cars. Women writers took surprisingly intense interest in car culture and its import for modern life, as the car, replete with material and symbolic meaning, recast literal and literary female power in the automotive age. Clarke draws on a wide range of literary works, both canonical and popular, to document women's fascination with cars from many perspectives: historical, psychological, economic, ethnic. Authors discussed include Wharton, Stein, Faulkner, O’Connor, Morrison, Erdrich, Mason, Kingsolver, Lopez, Kadohata, Smiley, Senna, Viramontes, Allison, and Silko. By investigating how cars can function as female space, reflect female identity, and reshape female agency, this engaging study opens up new angles from which to approach fiction by and about women and traces new directions in the intersection of literature, technology, and gender.

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Earning More and Getting Less

Veronica Tichenor

For nearly two decades the wage gap between men and women has remained virtually unchanged. Women continue to earn, on average, 80 cents for every dollar that men earn. Yet despite persistent discrimination in wages, studies are also beginning to show that a growing number of women are out-earning their husbands. Nationwide, nearly one-third of working women are the chief breadwinners in their families. The trend is particularly pronounced among the demographic of highly educated women. Does this increase in earnings, however, equate to a shift in power dynamics between husbands and wives?

In Earning More and Getting Less, sociologist Veronica Jaris Tichenor shows how, historically, men have derived a great deal of power over financial and household decisions by bringing home all (or most) of the family's income. Yet, financial superiority has not been a similar source of power for women. Tichenor demonstrates how wives, instead of using their substantial incomes to negotiate more egalitarian relationships, enable their husbands to perpetuate male dominance within the family.

Weaving personal accounts, in-depth interviews, and compelling narrative, this important study reveals disturbing evidence that the conventional power relations defined by gender are powerful enough to undermine hierarchies defined by money. Earning More and Getting Less is essential reading in sociology, psychology, and family and gender studies.

East is West and West is East Cover

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East is West and West is East

Gender, Culture, and Interwar Encounters between Asia and America

Karen Kuo

Between 1919-1938,   contact between Asia and America forced a reassessment of the normative boundaries of race, sex, gender, class, home, and nation. Karen Kuo’s provocative East Is West and West Is East looks closely at these global shifts to modernity.

In her analysis of five forgotten texts—the 1930 film East Is West, Frank Capra’s 1937 version of Lost Horizon and its 1973 remake, Younghill Kang's novel East Goes West, and Baroness Ishimoto’s memoir/manifesto, Facing Both Ways—Kuo elucidates how “Asia” played a role in shaping American gender and racial identities and how Asian authors understood modern America and its social, political, and cultural influence on Asia.

Kuo asserts that while notions of white and Asian racial difference remain salient, sexual and gendered constructions of Asians and whites were at times about similarity and intersections as much as they were about establishing differences. 
 

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Edna Ferber's Hollywood

American Fictions of Gender, Race, and History

By J. E. Smyth

Edna Ferber’s Hollywood reveals one of the most influential artistic relationships of the twentieth century—the four-decade partnership between historical novelist Edna Ferber and the Hollywood studios. Ferber was one of America’s most controversial popular historians, a writer whose uniquely feminist, multiracial view of the national past deliberately clashed with traditional narratives of white masculine power. Hollywood paid premium sums to adapt her novels, creating some of the most memorable films of the studio era—among them Show Boat, Cimarron, and Giant. Her historical fiction resonated with Hollywood’s interest in prestigious historical filmmaking aimed principally, but not exclusively, at female audiences. In Edna Ferber’s Hollywood, J. E. Smyth explores the research, writing, marketing, reception, and production histories of Hollywood’s Ferber franchise. Smyth tracks Ferber’s working relationships with Samuel Goldwyn, Leland Hayward, George Stevens, and James Dean; her landmark contract negotiations with Warner Bros.; and the controversies surrounding Giant’s critique of Jim-Crow Texas. But Edna Ferber’s Hollywood is also the study of the historical vision of an American outsider—a woman, a Jew, a novelist with few literary pretensions, an unashamed middlebrow who challenged the prescribed boundaries among gender, race, history, and fiction. In a masterful film and literary history, Smyth explores how Ferber’s work helped shape Hollywood’s attitude toward the American past.

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Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry

Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre

Paula R. Backscheider

This major study offers a broad view of the writing and careers of eighteenth-century women poets, casting new light on the ways in which poetry was read and enjoyed, on changing poetic tastes in British culture, and on the development of many major poetic genres and traditions. Rather than presenting a chronological survey, Paula R. Backscheider explores the forms in which women wrote and the uses to which they put those forms. Considering more than forty women in relation to canonical male writers of the same era, she concludes that women wrote in all of the genres that men did but often adapted, revised, and even created new poetic kinds from traditional forms. Backscheider demonstrates that knowledge of these women's poetry is necessary for an accurate and nuanced literary history. Within chapters on important canonical and popular verse forms, she gives particular attention to such topics as women's use of religious poetry to express candid ideas about patriarchy and rape; the continuing evolution and important role of the supposedly antiquarian genre of the friendship poetry; same-sex desire in elegy by women as well as by men; and the status of Charlotte Smith as a key figure of the long eighteenth century, not only as a Romantic-era poet.

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Embodied Modernities

Corporeality, Representation, and Chinese Cultures

Fran Martin & Larissa Heinrich (eds.)

From feminist philosophy to genetic science, scholarship in recent years has succeeded in challenging many entrenched assumptions about the material and biological status of human bodies. Likewise in the study of Chinese cultures, accelerating globalization and the resultant hybridity have called into question previous assumptions about the boundaries of Chinese national and ethnic identity. The problem of identifying a single or definitive referent for the "Chinese body" is thornier than ever. By facilitating fresh dialogue between fields as diverse as the history of science, literary studies, diaspora studies, cultural anthropology, and contemporary Chinese film and cultural studies, Embodied Modernities addresses contemporary Chinese embodiments as they are represented textually and as part of everyday life practices. The book is divided into two sections, each with a dedicated introduction by the editors. The first examines "Thresholds of Modernity" in chapters on Chinese body cultures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—a period of intensive cultural, political, and social modernization that led to a series of radical transformations in how bodies were understood and represented.The second section on "Contemporary Embodiments" explores body representations across the People’s Republic of China,Taiwan, and Hong Kong today.

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Embodied Resistance

Challenging the Norms, Breaking the Rules

Edited by Chris Bobel and Samantha Kwan

Embodied Resistance engages the rich and complex range of society’s contemporary “body outlaws”—people from many social locations who violate norms about the private, the repellent, or the forbidden. This collection ventures beyond the conventional focus on the “disciplined body” and instead, examines conformity from the perspective of resisters. By balancing accessibly written original ethnographic research with personal narratives, Embodied Resistance provides a window into the everyday lives of those who defy or violate socially constructed body rules and conventions.

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Embracing Arms

Cultural Representation of Slavic and Balkan Women in War

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Emerging Intersections

Race, Class, and Gender in Theory, Policy, and Practice

Edited by Bonnie Thornton Dill and Ruth Enid Zambrana

The United States is known as a "melting pot" yet this mix tends to be volatile and contributes to a long history of oppression, racism, and bigotry. Emerging Intersections, an anthology of ten previously unpublished essays, looks at the problems of inequality and oppression from new angles and promotes intersectionality as an interpretive tool that can be utilized to better understand the ways in which race, class, gender, ethnicity, and other dimensions of difference shape our lives today. The book showcases innovative contributions that expand our understanding of how inequality affects people of color, demonstrates the ways public policies reinforce existing systems of inequality, and shows how research and teaching using an intersectional perspective compels scholars to become agents of change within institutions. By offering practical applications for using intersectional knowledge, Emerging Intersections will help bring us one step closer to achieving positive institutional change and social justice.

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Enduring Violence

Ladina Women's Lives in Guatemala

Cecilia Menjívar

Drawing on revealing, in-depth interviews, Cecilia Menjívar investigates the role that violence plays in the lives of Ladina women in eastern Guatemala, a little-visited and little-studied region. While much has been written on the subject of political violence in Guatemala, Menjívar turns to a different form of suffering—the violence embedded in institutions and in everyday life so familiar and routine that it is often not recognized as such. Rather than painting Guatemala (or even Latin America) as having a cultural propensity for normalizing and accepting violence, Menjívar aims to develop an approach to examining structures of violence—profound inequality, exploitation and poverty, and gender ideologies that position women in vulnerable situations— grounded in women’s experiences. In this way, her study provides a glimpse into the root causes of the increasing wave of feminicide in Guatemala, as well as in other Latin American countries, and offers observations relevant for understanding violence against women around the world today.

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