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

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Domestic Broils Cover

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Domestic Broils

Shakers, Antebellum Marriage, and the Narratives of Mary and Joseph Dyer

edited by Elizabeth De Wolfe

In 1813, Joseph Dyer, his wife Mary, and their five children joined the Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire. Joseph quickly adapted to the Shaker way of life, but Mary chafed under its strictures and eventually left the community two years later. When the local elders and her husband refused to release the couple’s children to Mary, she embarked on what would become a fifty-year campaign against the Shakers, beginning with the publication in 1818 of A Brief Statement of the Sufferings of Mary Dyer. The following year the Shakers countered by publishing Joseph’s A Compendious Narrative, a scathing attack on what the title page called “the character, disposition and conduct of Mary Dyer.” Reproduced here for the first time since their original publication, the Dyers’ dueling accounts of the breakup of their marriage form the core of Domestic Broils. In Mary’s telling, the deceptions of a cruel husband, backed by an unyielding Shaker hierarchy, destroyed what had once been a happy, productive family. Joseph’s narrative counters these claims by alleging that Mary abused her children, neglected her husband, and engaged in extramarital affairs. In her introduction to the volume, Elizabeth De Wolfe places the Dyers’ marital dispute in a broader historical context, drawing on their personal testimony to examine connected but conflicting views of marriage, family life, and Shakerism in the early republic. She also shows how the growing world of print facilitated the transformation of a private family quarrel into a public debate. Salacious, riveting, and immensely popular throughout New England, the Dyers’ narratives not only captured imaginations but also reflected public anxieties over rapid cultural change in antebellum America.

Domestic Disturbances Cover

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Domestic Disturbances

Re-Imagining Narratives of Gender, Labor, and Immigration

By Irene Mata

Domestic Disturbances examines the treatment of the traditional immigrant narrative in popular culture, illuminating the possibilities of alternative stories by reading Chicana/Latina-produced texts through a new interpretation of the immigrant paradigm.

Dress Casual Cover

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Dress Casual

How College Students Redefined American Style

Deirdre Clemente

As Deirdre Clemente shows in this lively history of fashion on American college campuses, whether it's jeans and sneakers or khakis with a polo shirt, chances are college kids made it cool. The modern casual American wardrobe, Clemente argues, was born in the classrooms, dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and gyms of universities and colleges across the country. As young people gained increasing social and cultural clout during the early twentieth century, their tastes transformed mainstream fashion from collared and corseted to comfortable. From east coast to west and from the Ivy League to historically black colleges and universities, changing styles reflected new ways of defining the value of personal appearance, and, by extension, new possibilities for creating one's identity.

The pace of change in fashion options, however, was hardly equal. Race, class, and gender shaped the adoption of casual style, and young women faced particular backlash both from older generations and from their male peers. Nevertheless, as coeds fought dress codes and stereotypes, they joined men in pushing new styles beyond the campus, into dance halls, theaters, homes, and workplaces. Thanks to these shifts, today's casual style provides a middle ground for people of all backgrounds, redefining the meaning of appearance in American culture.

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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Dying Unneeded

The Cultural Context of the Russian Mortality Crisis

Michelle Parsons

In the early 1990s, Russia experienced one of the most extreme increases in mortality in modern history. Men's life expectancy dropped by six years; women's life expectancy dropped by three. Middle-aged men living in Moscow were particularly at risk of dying early deaths. While the early 1990s represent the apex of mortality, the crisis continues. Drawing on fieldwork in the capital city during 2006 and 2007, this account brings ethnography to bear on a topic that has until recently been the province of epidemiology and demography.

Middle-aged Muscovites talk about being unneeded (ne nuzhny), or having little to give others. Considering this concept of "being unneeded" reveals how political economic transformation undermined the logic of social relations whereby individuals used their position within the Soviet state to give things to other people. Being unneeded is also gendered--while women are still needed by their families, men are often unneeded by state or family. Western literature on the mortality crisis focuses on a lack of social capital, often assuming that what individuals receive is most important, but being needed is more about what individuals give. Social connections--and their influence on health--are culturally specific.

In Soviet times, needed people helped friends and acquaintances push against the limits of the state, crafting a sense of space and freedom. When the state collapsed, this sense of bounded freedom was compromised, and another freedom became deadly.

This book is a recipient of the annual Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine.

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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.

Embodied Modernities Cover

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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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