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

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Becoming Virginia Woolf

Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read

Barbara Lounsberry

Encompassing thirty-eight handwritten volumes, Virginia Woolf's diary is her lengthiest and longest-sustained work, and last work to reach the public. In the only full-length work to explore deeply this luminous and boundary-stretching masterpiece, Barbara Lounsberry traces Woolf's development as a writer through her first twelve diaries--a fascinating experimental stage, where the earliest hints of Woolf's pioneering modernist style can be seen.

Starting with fourteen-year-old Woolf's first palm-sized leather diary, Becoming Virginia Woolf illuminates how her private and public writing was shaped by the diaries of other writers including Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, the French Goncourt brothers, Mary Coleridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Woolf's "diary parents"--Sir Walter Scott and Fanny Burney. These key literary connections open a new and indispensable window onto the story of one of literature's most renowned modernists.

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Before They Could Vote

American Women's Autobiographical Writing, 1819–1919

Edited by Sidonie A. Smith and Julia Watson

The life narratives in this collection are by ethnically diverse women of energy and ambition—some well known, some forgotten over generations—who confronted barriers of gender, class, race, and sexual difference as they pursued or adapted to adventurous new lives in a rapidly changing America. The engaging selections—from captivity narratives to letters, manifestos, criminal confessions, and childhood sketches—span a hundred years in which women increasingly asserted themselves publicly. Some rose to positions of prominence as writers, activists, and artists; some sought education or wrote to support themselves and their families; some transgressed social norms in search of new possibilities. Each woman’s story is strikingly individual, yet the brief narratives in this anthology collectively chart bold new visions of women’s agency.

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Beginning to See the Light

Sex, Hope, and Rock-and-Roll

Ellen Willis

From the New Yorker’s inimitable first pop music critic comes this pioneering collection of essays by a conscientious writer whose political realm is both radical and rational, and whose prime preoccupations are with rock ’n’ roll, sexuality, and above all, freedom. Here Ellen Willis assuredly captures the thrill of music, the disdain of authoritarian culture, and the rebellious spirit of the ’60s and ’70s.

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Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman: Voice and the Embodiment of a Costly Performance

The defining quality of Black womanhood is strength, states Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant in Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman. But, she argues, the idea of strength undermines its real function: to defend and maintain a stratified social order by obscuring Black women’s experiences of suffering, acts of desperation, and anger. This provocative book lays bare the common perception that strength is an exemplary or defining quality of “authentic” Black womanhood.

The author, a noted sociologist, interviews 58 Black women about being strong and proud, to illustrate their “performance” of invulnerability. Beauboeuf-Lafontant explains how such behavior leads to serious symptoms for these women, many of whom suffer from eating disorders and depression.

Drawing on Black feminist scholarship, cultural studies, and women’s history, Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman traces the historical and social influences of normative Black femininity, looking at how notions of self-image and strength create a distraction from broader forces of discrimination and power.

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Being Rita Hayworth

Labor, Identity, and Hollywood Stardom

Adrienne L McLean

Who was Rita Hayworth? Born Margarita Carmen Cansino, she spent her life subjected to others' definitions of her, no matter how hard she worked to claim her own identity. Although there have been many "revelations" about her life and career, Adrienne McLean's book is the first to show that such disclosures were part of a constructed image from the outset. McLean explores Hayworth's participation in the creation of her star persona, particularly through her work as a dancer-a subject ignored by most film scholars. The passive love goddess, as it turns out, had a unique appeal to other women who, like her, found it extraordinarily difficult to negotiate the competing demands of family, domesticity, and professional work outside the home. Being Rita Hayworth also considers the ways in which the actress has been treated by film scholarship over the years to accomplish its own goals, sometimes at her expense.

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The Best-Kept Secret

Women Corporate Lobbyists, Policy, and Power in the United States

Denise Benoit

From lobbyists such as Jack Abramoff, to corporate executives, like Enron's Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, recent scandals dealing with politics and government have focused only on men at the top. But do these high-profile men accurately represent the gendered make up of corporate-government in the United States?

In this first in-depth look at the changing face of corporate lobbying, Denise Benoit shows how women who have historically worked mostly in policy areas relating to "women's issues" such as welfare, family, and health have become increasingly influential as corporate lobbyists, specializing in what used to be considered "masculine" policy, such as taxes and defense. Benoit finds that this new crop of female lobbyists mobilize both masculinity and femininity in ways that create and maintain trusting, open, and strong relations with those in government, and at the same time help corporations to save and earn billions of dollars.

While the media focuses on the dubious behaviors of men at the top of business and government, this book shows that female corporate lobbyists are indeed one of the best kept secrets in Washington.



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Between Feminism and Islam

Human Rights and Sharia Law in Morocco

Zakia Salime

There are two major women’s movements in Morocco: the Islamists who hold shari’a as the platform for building a culture of women’s rights, and the feminists who use the United Nations’ framework to amend shari’a law. Between Feminism and Islam shows how the interactions of these movements over the past two decades have transformed the debates, the organization, and the strategies of each other.

In Between Feminism and Islam, Zakia Salime looks at three key movement moments: the 1992 feminist One Million Signature Campaign, the 2000 Islamist mass rally opposing the reform of family law, and the 2003 Casablanca attacks by a group of Islamist radicals. At the core of these moments are disputes over legitimacy, national identity, gender representations, and political negotiations for shaping state gender policies. Located at the intersection of feminism and Islam, these conflicts have led to the Islamization of feminists on the one hand and the feminization of Islamists on the other.

Documenting the synergistic relationship between these movements, Salime reveals how the boundaries of feminism and Islamism have been radically reconfigured. She offers a new conceptual framework for studying social movements, one that allows us to understand how Islamic feminism is influencing global debates on human rights.

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Between History and Poetry

The Letters of H.D. And Norman Holmes Pearson

Donna Krolik Hollenberg

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Beyond Bondage

Free Women of Color in the Americas

David Barry Gaspar

David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine's Beyond Bondage outlines the restricted spheres within which free women of color, by virtue of gender and racial restrictions, were forced to carve out their existences. Although their freedom, represented by the acquisition of property, respectability, and opportunity, always remained precarious, the collection supports the surprising conclusion that women of color often sought and obtained these advantages more successfully than their male counterparts.

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Beyond Bylines

Media Workers and Women’s Rights in Canada

Beyond Bylines: Media Workers and Women’s Rights in Canada explores the ways in which several of Canada’s women journalists, broadcasters, and other media workers reached well beyond the glory of their personal bylines to advocate for the most controversial women’s rights of their eras. To do so, some of them adopted conventional feminine identities, while others refused to conform altogether, openly and defiantly challenging the gender expectations of their day.

The book consists of a series of case studies of the women in question as they grappled with the concerns close to their hearts: higher education for women, healthy dress reforms, the vote, equal opportunities at work, abortion, lesbianism, and Aboriginal women’s rights. Their media reflected their respective eras: intellectual magazines, daily and weekly newspapers, radio, feminist public relations, alternative women’s periodicals, and documentary film made for television.

Barbara Freeman takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining biography, history, and communication studies to demonstrate how their use of different media both enabled and limited these women in their ability to be daring advocates for gender equality. She shows how a number of these women were linked through the generations by their memberships in activist women’s organizations.

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