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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality

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Alone atop the Hill Cover

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Alone atop the Hill

The Autobiography of Alice Dunnigan, Pioneer of the National Black Press

Alice Dunnigan

In 1942 Alice Allison Dunnigan, a sharecropper’s daughter from Kentucky, made her way to the nation’s capitol and a career in journalism that eventually led her to the White House. With Alone atop the Hill, Carol McCabe Booker has condensed Dunnigan’s 1974 self-published autobiography to appeal to a general audience and has added scholarly annotations that provide historical context. Dunnigan’s dynamic story reveals her importance to the fields of journalism, women’s history, and the civil rights movement and creates a compelling portrait of a groundbreaking American.

Dunnigan recounts her formative years in rural Kentucky as she struggled for a living, telling bluntly and simply what life was like in a Border State in the first half of the twentieth century. Later she takes readers to Washington, D.C., where we see her rise from a typist during World War II to a reporter. Ultimately she would become the first black female reporter accredited to the White House; to travel with a U.S. president; credentialed by the House and Senate Press Galleries; accredited to the Department of State and the Supreme Court; voted into the White House Newswomen’s Association and the Women’s National Press Club; and recognized as a Washington sports reporter.

A contemporary of Helen Thomas and a forerunner of Ethel Payne, Dunnigan traveled with President Truman on his coast-to-coast, whistle-stop tour; was the first reporter to query President Eisenhower about civil rights; and provided front-page coverage for more than one hundred black newspapers of virtually every race issue before the Congress, the federal courts, and the presidential administration. Here she provides an uninhibited, unembellished, and unvarnished look at the terrain, the players, and the politics in a roughand- tumble national capital struggling to make its way through a nascent, postwar racial revolution.

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Already Doing It

Intellectual Disability and Sexual Agency

Michael Gill

Why is the sexuality of people with intellectual disabilities often deemed “risky” or “inappropriate” by teachers, parents, support staff, medical professionals, judges, and the media? Should sexual citizenship depend on IQ? Confronting such questions head-on, Already Doing It exposes the “sexual ableism” that denies the reality of individuals who, despite the restrictions they face, actively make decisions about their sexual lives.

Tracing the history of efforts in the United States to limit the sexual freedoms of such persons⎯using methods such as forced sterilization, invasive birth control, and gender-segregated living arrangements—Michael Gill demonstrates that these widespread practices stemmed from dominant views of disabled sexuality, not least the notion that intellectually disabled women are excessively sexual and fertile while their male counterparts are sexually predatory. Analyzing legal discourses, sex education materials, and news stories going back to the 1970s, he shows, for example, that the intense focus on “stranger danger” in sex education for intellectually disabled individuals disregards their ability to independently choose activities and sexual partners—including nonheterosexual ones, who are frequently treated with heightened suspicion. He also examines ethical issues surrounding masturbation training that aims to regulate individuals’ sexual lives, challenges the perception that those whose sexuality is controlled (or rejected) should not reproduce, and proposes recognition of the right to become parents for adults with intellectual disabilities.

A powerfully argued call for sexual and reproductive justice for people with intellectual disabilities, Already Doing It urges a shift away from the compulsion to manage “deviance” (better known today as harm reduction) because the right to pleasure and intellectual disability are not mutually exclusive. In so doing, it represents a vital new contribution to the ongoing debate over who, in the United States, should be allowed to have sex, reproduce, marry, and raise children.

Altered States Cover

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Altered States

Sex, Nation, Drugs, and Self-Transformation in Victorian Spiritualism

Altered States examines the rise of Spiritualism—the religion of séances, mediums, and ghostly encounters—in the Victorian period and the role it played in undermining both traditional female roles and the rhetoric of imperialism. Focusing on a particular kind of séance event—the full-form materialization—and the bodies of the young, female mediums who performed it, Marlene Tromp argues that in the altered state of the séance new ways of understanding identity and relationships became possible. This not only demonstrably shaped the thinking of the Spiritualists, but also the popular consciousness of the period. In diaries, letters, newspaper accounts, scientific reports, and popular fiction, Tromp uncovers evidence that the radical views presented in the faith permeated and influenced mainstream Victorian thought.

Alva Vanderbilt Belmont Cover

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Alva Vanderbilt Belmont

Unlikely Champion of Women's Rights

Sylvia D. Hoffert

A New York socialite and feminist, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont was known to be domineering, temperamental, and opinionated. Her resolve to get her own way regardless of the consequences stood her in good stead when she joined the American woman suffrage movement in 1909. Thereafter, she used her wealth, her administrative expertise, and her social celebrity to help convince Congress to pass the 19th Amendment and then to persuade the exhausted leaders of the National Woman's Party to initiate a world wide equal rights campaign. Sylvia D. Hoffert argues that Belmont was a feminist visionary and that her financial support was crucial to the success of the suffrage and equal rights movements. She also shows how Belmont's activism, and the money she used to support it, enriches our understanding of the personal dynamics of the American woman's rights movement. Her analysis of Belmont's memoirs illustrates how Belmont went about the complex and collaborative process of creating her public self.

Amá, Your Story Is Mine Cover

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Amá, Your Story Is Mine

Walking Out of the Shadows of Abuse

By Ercenia "Alice" Cedeño

The daughter of migrant workers recalls her mother’s escape from domestic violence and poverty, in a haunting memoir that gives new voice to Latina lives.

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The Amazons

Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World

Adrienne Mayor

Amazons—fierce warrior women dwelling on the fringes of the known world—were the mythic archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Heracles and Achilles displayed their valor in duels with Amazon queens, and the Athenians reveled in their victory over a powerful Amazon army. In historical times, Cyrus of Persia, Alexander the Great, and the Roman general Pompey tangled with Amazons.

But just who were these bold barbarian archers on horseback who gloried in fighting, hunting, and sexual freedom? Were Amazons real? In this deeply researched, wide-ranging, and lavishly illustrated book, National Book Award finalist Adrienne Mayor presents the Amazons as they have never been seen before. This is the first comprehensive account of warrior women in myth and history across the ancient world, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Great Wall of China.

Mayor tells how amazing new archaeological discoveries of battle-scarred female skeletons buried with their weapons prove that women warriors were not merely figments of the Greek imagination. Combining classical myth and art, nomad traditions, and scientific archaeology, she reveals intimate, surprising details and original insights about the lives and legends of the women known as Amazons. Provocatively arguing that a timeless search for a balance between the sexes explains the allure of the Amazons, Mayor reminds us that there were as many Amazon love stories as there were war stories. The Greeks were not the only people enchanted by Amazons—Mayor shows that warlike women of nomadic cultures inspired exciting tales in ancient Egypt, Persia, India, Central Asia, and China.

Driven by a detective’s curiosity, Mayor unearths long-buried evidence and sifts fact from fiction to show how flesh-and-blood women of the Eurasian steppes were mythologized as Amazons, the equals of men. The result is likely to become a classic.

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Amazons of the Huk Rebellion

Gender, Sex, and Revolution in the Philippines

Vina A. Lanzona

Labeled “Amazons” by the national press, women played a central role in the Huk rebellion, one of the most significant peasant-based revolutions in modern Philippine history. As spies, organizers, nurses, couriers, soldiers, and even military commanders, women worked closely with men to resist first Japanese occupation and later, after WWII, to challenge the new Philippine republic. But in the midst of the uncertainty and violence of rebellion, these women also pursued personal lives, falling in love, becoming pregnant, and raising families, often with their male comrades-in-arms.
    Drawing on interviews with over one hundred veterans of the movement, Vina A. Lanzona explores the Huk rebellion from the intimate and collective experiences of its female participants, demonstrating how their presence, and the complex questions of gender, family, and sexuality they provoked, ultimately shaped the nature of the revolutionary struggle.
 
 
Winner, Kenneth W. Baldridge Prize for the Best History Book written by a resident of Hawaii, sponsored by Brigham Young University-Hawaii

Amazons, Wives, Nuns, and Witches Cover

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Amazons, Wives, Nuns, and Witches

Women and the Catholic Church in Colonial Brazil, 1500-1822

By Carole A. Myscofski

Writing Brazilian women back into history, this book presents the first comprehensive study in English of how women experienced and understood their lives within the society created by the Portuguese imperial government and the colonial era Roman Catholic Church.

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Ambientes

New Queer Latino Writing

Lázaro Lima

As the U.S. Latino population grows rapidly, and as the LGBTQ Latino community becomes more visible and a more crucial part of our literary and artistic heritage, there is an increasing demand for literature that successfully highlights these diverse lives. Edited by Lázaro Lima and Felice Picano, Ambientes is a revolutionary collection of fiction featuring stories by established authors as well as emerging voices that present a collective portrait of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience in America today. With a preface by Picano and an introduction by Lima that sets the stage for understanding Latino literary and cultural history, this is the first anthology to cross cultural and regional borders by offering a wide variety of urban, rural, East Coast, West Coast, and midwestern perspectives on Latina and Latino queers from different walks of life. Stories range from sensual pieces to comical romances and from inner-city dramas fueled by street language to portraits of gay domesticity, making this a much-needed collection for many different kinds of readers. The stories in this collection reflect a vibrant and creative community and redefine received notions of “gay” and “lesbian.”

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Ambivalent Art of Katherine Anne Porter

Mary Titus

During a life that spanned ninety years, Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) witnessed dramatic and intensely debated changes in the gender roles of American women. Mary Titus draws upon unpublished Porter papers, as well as newly available editions of her early fiction, poetry, and reviews, to trace Porter's shifting and complex response to those cultural changes. Titus shows how Porter explored her own ambivalence about gender and creativity, for she experienced firsthand a remarkable range of ideas concerning female sexuality. These included the Victorian attitudes of the grandmother who raised her; the sexual license of revolutionary Mexico, 1920s New York, and 1930s Paris; and the conservative, ordered attitudes of the Agrarians.

Throughout Porter's long career, writes Titus, she “repeatedly probed cultural arguments about female creativity, a woman's maternal legacy, romantic love, and sexual identity, always with startling acuity, and often with painful ambivalence.” Much of her writing, then, serves as a medium for what Titus terms Porter's “gender-thinking”--her sustained examination of the interrelated issues of art, gender, and identity.

Porter, says Titus, rebelled against her upbringing yet never relinquished the belief that her work as an artist was somehow unnatural, a turn away from the essential identity of woman as “the repository of life,” as childbearer. In her life Porter increasingly played a highly feminized public role as southern lady, but in her writing she continued to engage changing representations of female identity and sexuality. This is an important new study of the tensions and ambivalence inscribed in Porter's fiction, as well as the vocational anxiety and gender performance of her actual life.

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