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The Archival Turn in Feminism

Outrage in Order

In the 1990s, a generation of women born during the rise of the second wave feminist movement plotted a revolution. These young activists funneled their outrage and energy into creating music, and zines using salvaged audio equipment and stolen time on copy machines. By 2000, the cultural artifacts of this movement had started to migrate from basements and storage units to community and university archives, establishing new sites of storytelling and political activism.
 
The Archival Turn in Feminism chronicles these important cultural artifacts and their collection, cataloging, preservation, and distribution. Cultural studies scholar Kate Eichhorn examines institutions such as the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University, The Riot Grrrl Collection at New York University, and the Barnard Zine Library. She also profiles the archivists who have assembled these significant feminist collections.
 
Eichhorn shows why young feminist activists, cultural producers, and scholars embraced the archive, and how they used it to stage political alliances across eras and generations.

A volume in the American Literatures Initiative

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Archives of Desire

The Queer Historical Work of New England Regionalism

J. Samaine Lockwood

In this though-provoking study of nineteenth-century America, J. Samaine Lockwood offers an important new interpretation of the literary movement known as American regionalism. Lockwood argues that regionalism in New England was part of a widespread woman-dominated effort to rewrite history. Lockwood demonstrates that New England regionalism was an intellectual endeavor that overlapped with colonial revivalism and included fiction and history writing, antique collecting, colonial home restoration, and photography. The cohort of writers and artists leading this movement included Sarah Orne Jewett, Alice Morse Earle, and C. Alice Baker, and their project was taken up by women of a younger generation, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, who extended regionalism through the modernist moment.

Lockwood draws on a diverse archive that includes fiction, material culture, collecting guides, and more. Showing how these women intellectuals aligned themselves with a powerful legacy of social and cultural dissent, Lockwood reveals that New England regionalism performed queer historical work, placing unmarried women and their myriad desires at the center of both regional and national history.

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Archives of Dispossession

Recovering the Testimonios of Mexican American Herederas, 1848–1960

Karen R. Roybal

One method of American territory expansion in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands was the denial of property rights to Mexican landowners, which led to dispossession. Many historical accounts overlook this colonial impact on Indigenous and Mexican peoples, and existing studies that do tackle this subject tend to privilege the male experience. Here, Karen R. Roybal recenters the focus of dispossession on women, arguing that gender, sometimes more than race, dictated legal concepts of property ownership and individual autonomy. Drawing on a diverse source base—legal land records, personal letters, and literature—Roybal locates voices of Mexican American women in the Southwest to show how they fought against the erasure of their rights, both as women and as landowners. Woven throughout Roybal's analysis are these women's testimonios—their stories focusing on inheritance, property rights, and shifts in power. Roybal positions these testimonios as an alternate archive that illustrates the myriad ways in which multiple layers of dispossession—and the changes of property ownership in Mexican law—affected the formation of Mexicana identity.

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Are All the Women Still White?

Rethinking Race, Expanding Feminisms

Janell Hobson

Provides a contemporary response to such landmark volumes as All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave and This Bridge Called My Back.

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Arguments with Silence

Writing the History of Roman Women

Amy Richlin

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Army at Home

Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front

Judith Giesberg

Introducing readers to women whose Civil War experiences have long been ignored, Judith Giesberg examines the lives of working-class women in the North, for whom the home front was a battlefield of its own.

Black and white working-class women managed farms that had been left without a male head of household, worked in munitions factories, made uniforms, and located and cared for injured or dead soldiers. As they became more active in their new roles, they became visible as political actors, writing letters, signing petitions, moving (or refusing to move) from their homes, and confronting civilian and military officials.

At the heart of the book are stories of women who fought the draft in New York and Pennsylvania, protested segregated streetcars in San Francisco and Philadelphia, and demanded a living wage in the needle trades and safer conditions at the Federal arsenals where they labored. Giesberg challenges readers to think about women and children who were caught up in the military conflict but nonetheless refused to become its collateral damage. She offers a dramatic reinterpretation of how America's Civil War reshaped the lived experience of race and gender and brought swift and lasting changes to working-class family life.

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Art Labor, Sex Politics

Feminist Effects in 1970s British Art and Performance

Siona Wilson

Contrary to critics who have called it the “undecade,” the 1970s were a time of risky, innovative art—and nowhere more so than in Britain, where the forces of feminism and labor politics merged in a radical new aesthetic. In Art Labor, Sex Politics Siona Wilson investigates the charged relationship of sex and labor politics as it played out in the making of feminist art in 1970s Britain. Her sustained exploration of works of experimental film, installation, performance, and photography maps the intersection of feminist and leftist projects in the artistic practices of this heady period.

Collective practice, grassroots activism, and iconoclastic challenges to society’s sexual norms are all fundamental elements of this theoretically informed history. The book provides fresh assessments of key feminist figures and introduces readers to less widely known artists such as Jo Spence and controversial groups like COUM Transmissions. Wilson’s interpretations of two of the best-known (and infamous) exhibitions of feminist art—Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document and COUM Transmissions’ Prostitution—supply a historical context that reveals these works anew. Together these analyses demonstrate that feminist attention to sexual difference, sex, and psychic formation reconfigures received categories of labor and politics.

How—and how much—do sexual politics transform our approach to aesthetic debates? What effect do the tropes of sexual difference and labor have on the very conception of the political within cultural practice? These are the questions that animate Art Labor, Sex Politics as it illuminates an intense and influential decade of intellectual and artistic experimentation.

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Asian/Pacific Islander American Women

A Historical Anthology

Shirley Hune, Gail Nomura

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women is the first collection devoted to the historical study of A/PI women's diverse experiences in America. Covering a broad terrain from pre-large scale Asian emigration and Hawaii in its pre-Western contact period to the continental United States, the Philippines, and Guam at the end of the twentieth century, the text views women as historical subjects actively negotiating complex hierarchies of power.

The volume presents new findings about a range of groups, including recent immigrants to the U.S. and understudied communities. Comprised of original new work, it includes chapters on women who are Cambodian, Chamorro, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Native Hawaiian, South Asian, and Vietnamese Americans. It addresses a wide range of women's experiences-as immigrants, military brides, refugees, American born, lesbians, workers, mothers, beauty contestants, and community activists. There are also pieces on historiography and methodology, and bibliographic and video documentary resources.

This groundbreaking anthology is an important addition to the scholarship in Asian/Pacific American studies, ethnic studies, American studies, women's studies, and U.S. history, and is a valuable resource for scholars and students.

Contributors include: Xiaolan Bao, Sucheng Chan, Catherine Ceniza Choy, Vivian Loyola Dames, Jennifer Gee, Madhulika S. Khandelwal, Lili M. Kim, Nancy In Kyung Kim, Erika Lee, Shirley Jennifer Lim, Valerie Matsumoto, Sucheta Mazumdar, Davianna Pomaika'i McGregor, Trinity A. Ordona, Rhacel Salazar Parre-as, Amy Ku'uleialoha Stillman, Charlene Tung, Kathleen Uno, Linda Trinh Võ, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Ji-Yeon Yuh, and Judy Yung.

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At Home Inside

A Daughter's Tribute to Ann Petry

Elisabeth Petry

Ann Petry (1908-1997) was a prominent writer during a period in which few black writers were published with regularity in America. Her novels The Street, Country Place, and The Narrows, along with a collection of short stories and various essays and works of nonfiction, give voice to black experience outside of the traditional strains of poverty and black nationalism.

At Home Inside: A Daughter's Tribute to Ann Petry sifts the myriad contradictions of Ann Petry's life from a daughter's vantage. Ann Petry hoarded antiques but destroyed many of her journals. She wrote, but, failing to publish for years, she used her imagination to design and sew clothes, to bake, and to garden. When fame finally came, Ann Petry did not enjoy the travel it brought. Though she suffered phobias and anxieties all her life, she did not avoid the obligations of literary success until late in her career.

Ann Petry applied her formidable skills to stories she told about herself and her family, and the corrections Elisabeth Petry makes to her mother's inventions will prove invaluable. Talking about her life publicly, Ann Petry acknowledged six different birth dates. She hid her first marriage, and even represented her father, Peter C. Lane, Jr., as a potential killer. Mining Petry's journals Elisabeth Petry creates part biography, part love letter, and part sounding of her mother's genius and luminescent personality.

Elisabeth Petry is a freelance writer with a juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Middletown, Connecticut, and is the editor of Can Anything Beat White? A Black Family's Letters (University Press of Mississippi).

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