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

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Abortion in the American Imagination Cover

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Abortion in the American Imagination

Before Life and Choice, 1880-1940

Karen Weingarten

 The public debate on abortion stretches back much further than Roe v. Wade, to long before the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” were ever invented. Yet the ways Americans discussed abortion in the early decades of the twentieth century had little in common with our now-entrenched debates about personal responsibility and individual autonomy.

Abortion in the American Imagination returns to the moment when American writers first dared to broach the controversial subject of abortion. What was once a topic avoided by polite society, only discussed in vague euphemisms behind closed doors, suddenly became open to vigorous public debate as it was represented everywhere from sensationalistic melodramas to treatises on social reform. Literary scholar and cultural historian Karen Weingarten shows how these discussions were remarkably fluid and far-ranging, touching upon issues of eugenics, economics, race, and gender roles.

Weingarten traces the discourses on abortion across a wide array of media, putting fiction by canonical writers like William Faulkner, Edith Wharton, and Langston Hughes into conversation with the era’s films, newspaper articles, and activist rhetoric. By doing so, she exposes not only the ways that public perceptions of abortion changed over the course of the twentieth century, but also the ways in which these abortion debates shaped our very sense of what it means to be an American.   

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Abroad for Her Country

Tales of a Pioneer Woman Ambassador in the U.S. Foreign Service

Jean M. Wilkowski

In Abroad for Her Country, Jean M. Wilkowski shares the story of her extraordinary career in the U.S. Foreign Service during the last half of the twentieth century. Born in an era when few women sought professional careers, Wilkowski graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and the University of Wisconsin and then rose through the ranks at the Department of State, from Vice Consul to the first woman U.S. Ambassador to an African country and the first woman acting U.S. Ambassador in Latin America. During her thirty-five-year diplomatic career, Wilkowski was sent first as a vice consul to the Caribbean during World War II, when the Department of State was “even taking in 4-Fs and women.” She moved on to more challenging assignments in Latin America and Europe. For much of her career, she specialized in protecting and promoting U.S. trade and investment interests in such posts as Paris, Milan, Rome, Santiago, and Geneva. She also served during a revolution in Bogotá, attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, and the war between El Salvador and Honduras, when she called in U.S. humanitarian aid for 50,000 war-displaced persons. In 1977 she became coordinator of the U.S. preparation for the 1979 United Nations Conference on Science and Technology in Vienna. She worked closely with Notre Dame president Theodore Hesburgh, head of the U.S. delegation, and accompanied the delegation on its fact-finding visit to the Peoples’ Republic of China.

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Academic Motherhood

How Faculty Manage Work and Family

Kelly Ward and Lisa Ellen Wolf-Wendel

Academic Motherhood tells the story of over one hundred women who are both professors and mothers and examines how they navigated their professional lives at different career stages. Kelly Ward and Lisa Wolf-Wendel base their findings on a longitudinal study that asks how women faculty on the tenure track manage work and family in their early careers (pre-tenure) when their children are young (under the age of five), and then again in mid-career (post-tenure) when their children are older. The women studied work in a range of institutional settings—research universities, comprehensive universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges—and in a variety of disciplines, including the sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences.

Much of the existing literature on balancing work and family presents a pessimistic view and offers cautionary tales of what to avoid and how to avoid it. In contrast, the goal of Academic Motherhood is to help tenure track faculty and the institutions at which they are employed “make it work.” Writing for administrators, prospective and current faculty as well as scholars, Ward and Wolf-Wendel bring an element of hope and optimism to the topic of work and family in academe. They provide insight and policy recommendations that support faculty with children and offer mechanisms for problem-solving at personal, departmental, institutional, and national levels.

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Accidental Immigrants and the Search for Home

Women, Cultural Identity, and Community

Carol E. Kelley

The effect of immigration on individual lives is not short lived. Those who stay in an adopted country permanently go through a continual process of adjustment and learning both about their new country-and about themselves. The four women profiled in Carol Kelley's poignant Accidental Immigrants and the Search for Home challenge immigrant stereotypes as their lives are transformed by moving to new countries for reasons of marriage, education, or career--not economics or politics.

The intimate stories of these "accidental" immigrants broaden conventional notions of home. From a Maori woman who moves to Norway to the daughter of an Iranian diplomat now living in France, Kelley weaves together these stories of the personal and emotional effects of immigration with interdisciplinary discussions drawn from anthropology and psychology. Ultimately, she reveals how the lifelong process of immigration affects each woman's sense of identity and belonging and contributes to better understanding today's globalized society.
 

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Activist Faith

Grassroots Women in Democratic Brazil and Chile

Carol Ann Drogus, Hannah Stewart-Gambino

Acts of Narrative Resistance Cover

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Acts of Narrative Resistance

Women's Autobiographical Writings in the Americas

Laura J. Beard

This exploration of women's autobiographical writings in the Americas focuses on three specific genres: testimonio, metafiction, and the family saga as the story of a nation. What makes Laura J. Beard’s work distinctive is her pairing of readings of life narratives by women from different countries and traditions. Her section on metafiction focuses on works by Helena Parente Cunha, of Brazil, and Luisa Futoranksy, of Argentina; the family sagas explored are by Ana María Shua and Nélida Piñon, of Argentina and Brazil, respectively; and the section on testimonio highlights narratives by Lee Maracle and Shirley Sterling, from different Indigenous nations in British Columbia. In these texts Beard terms "genres of resistance," women resist the cultural definitions imposed upon them in an effort to speak and name their own experiences. The author situates her work in the context of not only other feminist studies of women's autobiographies but also the continuing study of inter-American literature that is demanding more comparative and cross-cultural approaches.

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Adela Breton

A Victorian Artist Amid Mexico's Ruins

Mary F. McVicker

Mary McVicker writes of Adela Breton, her independence from the strictures of Victorian life, her career as a pioneering artist-archaeologist, and the enduring significance of her work.

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Aesthetics of Sorrow

The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women

Tova Gamliel

The term “wailing culture” includes an array of women’s behaviors and beliefs following the death of a member of their ethnic group and is typical of Jewish life in Yemeni culture. Central to the practice is wailing itself—a special artistic genre that combines speech with sobbing into moving lyrical poetry that explores the meaning of death and loss. In Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women, Tova Gamliel decodes the cultural and psychological meanings of this practice in an ethnography based on her anthropological research among Yemenite Jewish communities in Israel in 2001–2003. Based on participant-observervation in homes of the bereaved and on twenty-four in-depth interviews with wailing women and men, Gamliel illuminates wailing culture level by level: by the circles in which the activity takes place; the special areas of endeavor that belong to women; and the broad social, historical, and religious context that surrounds these inner circles. She discusses the main themes that define the wailing culture (including the historical origins of women’s wailing generally and of Yemenite Jewish wailing in particular), the traits of wailing as an artistic genre, and the wailer as a symbolic type. She also explores the role of wailing in death rituals, as a therapeutic expertise endowed with unique affective mechanisms, as an erotic performance, as a livelihood, and as an indicator of the Jewish exile. In the end, she considers wailing at the intersection of tradition and modernity and examines the study of wailing as a genuine methodological challenge. Gamliel brings a sensitive eye to the vanishing practice of wailing, which has been largely unexamined by scholars and may be unfamiliar to many outside of the Middle East. Her interdisciplinary perspective and her focus on a uniquely female immigrant cultural practice will make this study fascinating reading for scholars of anthropology, gender, folklore, psychology, performance, philosophy, and sociology.

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Africa After Gender?

Edited by Catherine M. Cole, Takyiwaa Manuh, and Stephan F. Miescher

Gender is one of the most productive, dynamic, and vibrant areas of Africanist research today. But what is the meaning of gender in an African context? Why does gender usually connote women? Why has gender taken hold in Africa when feminism hasn't? Is gender yet another Western construct that has been applied to Africa however ill-suited and riddled with assumptions? Africa After Gender? looks at Africa now that gender has come into play to consider how the continent, its people, and the term itself have changed. Leading Africanist historians, anthropologists, literary critics, and political scientists move past simple dichotomies, entrenched debates, and polarizing identity politics to present an evolving discourse of gender. They show gender as an applied rather than theoretical tool and discuss themes such as the performance of sexuality, lesbianism, women's political mobilization, the work of gendered NGOs, and the role of masculinity in a gendered world. For activists, students, and scholars, this book reveals a rich and cross-disciplinary view of the status of gender in Africa today.

Contributors are Hussaina J. Abdullah, Nwando Achebe, Susan Andrade, Eileen Boris, Catherine M. Cole, Paulla A. Ebron, Eileen Julien, Lisa A. Lindsay, Adrienne MacIain, Takyiwaa Manuh, Stephan F. Miescher, Helen Mugambi, Gay Seidman, Sylvia Tamale, Bridget Teboh, Lynn M. Thomas, and Nana Wilson-Tagoe.

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African American Females

Addressing Challenges and Nurturing the Future

Edited by Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher and Vernon C. Polite

African American Females: Addressing Challenges and Nurturing the Future illustrates that across education, health, and other areas of social life, opportunities are stratified along gender as well as race lines. The unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege between men and women intersects with race and class to create multiple levels of disadvantage. This book is one result of a unique forum intended to bring into focus the K–12 and postsecondary schooling issues and challenges affecting African American girls and women. Focusing on the historical antecedents of African American female participation and the contemporary context of access and opportunity for black girls and women, the contributors to this collection pay particular attention to the interaction of gender with race/ethnicity, class, age, and health, with the central aim of encouraging thoughtful reading, critical thinking, and informed conversations about the necessity of exploring the lives of African American females. Additionally, the book frames important implications for recommended changes in policy and practice regarding a number of critical matters presently affecting African American females in schools and communities across the state of Michigan and nationwide.

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