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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality

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The Bad Wife Handbook

Rachel Zucker

Rachel Zucker's third book of poems is a darkly comic collection that looks unsparingly at the difficulties and compromises of married life. Formally innovative and blazingly direct, The Bad Wife Handbook cross-examines marriage, motherhood, monogamy, and writing itself. Rachel Zucker's upending of grammatical and syntactic expectations lends these poems an urgent richness and aesthetic complexity that mirrors the puzzles of real life. Candid, subversive, and genuinely moving, The Bad Wife Handbook is an important portrait of contemporary marriage and the writing life, of emotional connection and disconnection, of togetherness and aloneness.

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A Band of Noble Women

Racial Politics in the Women's Peace Movement

Melinda Plastas

A Band of Noble Women brings together the histories of the women’s peace movement and the black women’s club and social reform movement in a story of community and consciousness building between the world wars. Believing that achievement of improved race relations was a central step in establishing world peace, African American and white women initiated new political alliances that challenged the practices of Jim Crow segregation and promoted the leadership of women in transnational politics. Under the auspices of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), they united the artistic agenda of the Harlem Renaissance, suffrage-era organizing tactics, and contemporary debates on race in their efforts to expand women’s influence on the politics of war and peace. Plastas shows how WILPF espoused middle-class values and employed gendered forms of organization building, educating thousands of people on issues ranging from U.S. policies in Haiti and Liberia to the need for global disarmament. Highlighting WILPF chapters in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Baltimore, the author examines the successes of this interracial movement as well as its failures. A Band of Noble Women enables us to examine more fully the history of race in U.S. women’s movements and illuminates the role of the women’s peace movement in setting the foundation for the civil rights movement

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The Banshees

A Literary History of Irish American Women Writers

by Sally Barr Ebest

The Banshees traces the feminist contributions of a wide range of Irish American women writers, from Mother Jones, Kate Chopin, and Margaret Mitchell to contemporary authors such as Gillian Flynn, Jennifer Egan, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. To illustrate the growth and significance of their writing, the book is organized chronologically by decade. Each chapter details the progress and setbacks of Irish American women during that period by examining key themes in their novels and memoirs contextualized within a discussion of contemporary feminism, Catholicism, Irish American history, American politics, and society. The Banshees examines these writers’ roles in protecting women’s sovereignty, rights, and reputations. Thanks to their efforts, feminism is revealed as a fundamental element of Irish American literary history.

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Bargaining for Women's Rights

Activism in an Aspiring Muslim Democracy

Alice J. Kang

Gender relations in Muslim-majority countries have been subject to intense debate in recent decades. In some cases, Muslim women have fought for and won new rights to political participation, reproductive health, and education. In others, their agendas have been stymied. Yet missing from this discussion, until now, has been a systematic examination of how civil society groups mobilize to promote women’s rights and how multiple components of the state negotiate such legislation.

In Bargaining for Women’s Rights, Alice J. Kang argues that reform is more likely to happen when the struggle arises from within. Focusing on how a law on gender quotas and a United Nations treaty on ending discrimination against women passed in Niger while family law reform and an African Union protocol on women’s rights did not, Kang shows how local women’s associations are uniquely positioned to translate global concepts of democracy and human rights into concrete policy proposals. And yet, drawing on numerous interviews with women’s rights activists as well as Islamists and politicians, she reveals that the former are not the only ones who care about the regulation of gender relations.

Providing a solid analytic framework for understanding conflict over women’s rights policies without stereotyping Muslims, Bargaining for Women’s Rights demonstrates that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Islam does not have a uniformly negative effect on the prospects of such legislation.


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Barney Frank

The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman

Stuart Weisberg

In a survey conducted by Washingtonian magazine, Barney Frank was rated the smartest, funniest, and most eloquent member of Congress. A mainstay in the House of Representatives since 1981, he has come to be known for his talent as a legislator, his zeal for verbal combat, his imposing intellect, and a quick wit that both disarms and entertains other lawmakers. Most recently, as chair of the Financial Services Committee, he was instrumental in crafting a compromise bill to stem the tide of home mortgage foreclosures, as well as the subsequent $700 billion “rescue plan.” Based on interviews with over 150 people, including more than thirty hours with Frank himself, this biography reconstructs for the first time his life and career, from his working-class childhood in Bayonne, New Jersey, to his years at Harvard and in Boston politics, through his rise to national prominence. Stuart Weisberg captures Frank in all his quirkiness, irreverence, and complexity. He also examines his less appealing side—his gruff exterior, his legendary impatience, his aversion to wasting time. Weisberg reveals the pressure Frank has felt as the most prominent openly gay politician in the United States, one whose career was nearly derailed by a highly publicized sex scandal involving a male prostitute. Above all, this book shows Frank to be a superb legislator—a pragmatic politician who has dedicated his career to pursuing an unabashedly liberal agenda and whose depth of intellect and sense of humor have made him one of the most influential and colorful figures in Washington.

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Baroness of Hobcaw

The Life of Belle W. Baruch

Mary E. Miller

Belle W. Baruch (1899–1964) could outride, outshoot, outhunt, and outsail most of the young men of her elite social circle—abilities that distanced her from other debutantes of 1917. Unapologetic for her athleticism and interests in traditionally masculine pursuits, Baruch towered above male and female counterparts in height and daring. While she is known today for the wildlife conservation and biological research center on the South Carolina coast that bears her family name, Belle's story is a rich narrative about one nonconformist's ties to the land. In Baroness of Hobcaw, Mary E. Miller provides a provocative portrait of this unorthodox woman who gave a gift of monumental importance to the scientific community. Belle's father, Bernard M. Baruch, the so-called Wolf of Wall Street, held sway over the financial and diplomatic world of the early twentieth century and served as an adviser to seven U.S. presidents. In 1905 he bought Hobcaw Barony, a sprawling seaside retreat where he entertained the likes of Churchill and FDR. Belle's daily life at Hobcaw reflects the world of wealthy northerners, including the Vanderbilts and Luces, who bought tracts of southern acreage. Miller details Belle's exploits—fox hunting at Hobcaw, show jumping at Deauville, flying her own plane, traveling with Edith Bolling Wilson, and patrolling the South Carolina beach for spies during World War II. Belle's story also reveals her efforts to win her mother's approval and her father's attention, as well as her unraveling relationships with friends, family, employees, and lovers—both male and female. Miller describes Belle's final success in saving Hobcaw from development as the overarching triumph of a tempestuous life.

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Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace

Explorations in Canadian Women's Archives

Edited by Linda M. Morra

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Battered Black Women and Welfare Reform

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

This timely and compelling ethnography examines the impact of welfare reform on women seeking to escape domestic violence. Dána-Ain Davis profiles twenty-two women, thirteen of whom are Black, living in a battered women’s shelter in a small city in upstate New York. She explores the contradictions between welfare reform’s supposed success in moving women off of public assistance and toward economic self-sufficiency and the consequences welfare reform policy has presented for Black women fleeing domestic violence. Focusing on the intersection of poverty, violence, and race, she demonstrates the differential treatment that Black and White women face in their entanglements with the welfare bureaucracy by linking those entanglements to the larger political economy of a small city, neoliberal social policies, and racialized ideas about Black women as workers and mothers.

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The Battle over Marriage

Gay Rights Activism through the Media

Leigh Moscowitz

Over the past decade, the controversial issue of gay marriage has emerged as a primary battle in the culture wars and a definitive social issue of our time. The subject moved to the forefront of mainstream public debate in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began authorizing same-sex marriage licenses, and it has remained in the forefront through three presidential campaigns and numerous state ballot initiatives. In this thorough analysis, Leigh Moscowitz examines how prominent news outlets presented this issue from 2003 to 2012, a time when intense news coverage focused unprecedented attention on gay and lesbian life.

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Be Good, Sweet Maid

The Trials of Dorothy Joudrie

January 21, 1995: Dorothy Joudrie is arrested for attempting to murder her estranged husband. Soon after, Audrey Andrews begins to write her book. Audrey and Dorothy had known each other as children, but the identification of Andrews with Joudrie goes beyond merely the accident of a childhood acquaintance. It has to do with being subjected to the same societal constraints placed on girls and women during the years immediately following World War II, the years in which they had prepared for their adult lives. Expectations, placidly accepted then, are now seen as unrealistic and unreasonable. Did these expectations have some part in causing the tragedy in Dorothy Joudrie’s life?

When Andrews attempted to understand why Dorothy Joudrie had tried to kill her husband, and to write Joudrie’s story, she began to examine her own life, her own expectations — those she had of herself and those others had of her. She also realized that telling the story of anyone is an intricate and often ephemeral pursuit. Any story she wrote could only be her version of Joudrie’s experience. Nevertheless, it was important to be as honest as she could about her interpretation of that life. She determined to show carefully and accurately the damage that had been done to one woman — damage that is still being done to many others — through prejudice, attitudes, traditions and the institutions that are still the foundation of our society, and of our lives, everyday.

The result is a fascinating account of events leading up to the trial, the trial itself and the effect of Joudrie’s trial on the life of Audrey Andrews.

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