Journal of Women's History

Journal of Women's History 12.4, Winter 2001

Ages of Women: Age as a Category of Analysis in Women's History Special issue Editor: Birgitte Søland

Contents

Childhood, Youth, and the Female Life Cycle

    Maynes, Mary Jo.
    Waltner, Ann Beth.
  • Women's Life-Cycle Transitions in World-Historical Perspective: Comparing Marriage in China and Europe
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    Subject Headings:
    • Marriage -- China -- History.
    • Marriage -- Europe -- History.
    • Marriage -- Cross-cultural studies.
    Stoertz, Fiona Harris.
  • Young Women in France and England, 1050-1300
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    Subject Headings:
    • Young women -- France -- Social conditions.
    • Young women -- England -- Social conditions.
    • Young women -- France -- History -- To 1500.
    • Young women -- France -- History -- To 1500.
    Abstract:
      The early life stages of elite women in high medieval France and England were shaped by marriage to a considerable degree. Marriage prospects influenced their early education and place of residence, and the ceremony itself served as a symbolic rite of passage into "adulthood," something reflected in the vocabulary used to describe elite women. Nevertheless, since elite women generally married around the age of puberty or even earlier, contemporaries often showed consideration for the youth of recently married women, introducing them only gradually to adult sexual and social responsibilities and providing special caregivers for their protection and guidance. Full social adulthood for these women thus could arrive at different times, depending on each woman's age at marriage, early education, social position, motherhood, personality, and other factors.
    Paris, Leslie.
  • The Adventures of Peanut and Bo: Summer Camps and Early-Twentieth-Century American Girlhood
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    Subject Headings:
    • Camps -- Social aspects -- New York (State) -- History -- 20th century.
    • Girls -- New York (State) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
    • Camping -- Social aspects -- New York (State) -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      This study considers the rise of girls' summer camps in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century New York State as evidence of broader shifts in American girlhood. The first section traces the historiography of girlhood. Paris then explores how a growing number of girls came to attend camps, establishing semiautonomous and temporary communities away from their parents, and considers how factors other than gender enhanced or limited girls' camping opportunities. The final two sections investigate how girls at camp learned and performed gender and age hierarchies, particularly through ritualized camp activities. Camps, Paris proposes, speak eloquently to the central place of recreation in girls' social inculcation, and about girlhood as a social identity that is learned, practiced, and sometimes resisted. Histories of girlhood, meanwhile, help us reenvision women's history as meaningfully marked by age-bound transitions.

Cultural Constructions of Age and Aging

    Klassen, Sherri.
  • Greying in the Cloister: The Ursuline Life Course in Eighteenth-Century France
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    Subject Headings:
    • Ursulines -- France -- Toulouse -- History -- 18th century.
    Abstract:
      The life course of the eighteenth-century nun, and the assumptions behind it, contrasts the growing acceptance that age, like gender, was a natural definer of human differences. The obituaries of the Ursulines of Toulouse, France, show that although the lives and experiences of the nuns changed as they grew older, the women did not anticipate aging. Instead, the records presented nuns' lives as static snapshots of lives without progression. Experience rather than age afforded older Ursulines authority, and the nuns did not consider age to be an indicator of role and status.
    Field, Corinne T.
  • "Are Women ... All Minors? Woman's Rights and the Politics of Aging in the Antebellum United States
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    Subject Headings:
    • Women's rights -- United States -- History -- 1783-1865.
    • Aging -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 1783-1865.
    • Adulthood -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 1783-1865.
    Abstract:
      In the antebellum United States, law and public opinion defined adult independence as a stage of life specific to white men, while classifying white women as perpetual dependents. In response, woman's rights activists used age-based schedules of human development to challenge laws and social customs that treated women like minors, and to claim rights and opportunities for women as they entered adulthood and grew old. This analysis of antebellum political discourse revises the history of aging in two ways. First, it demonstrates that, while the ages at which people left school, married, and began work remained widely variable, age twenty-one nonetheless was defined as a significant transition to independence for white men, though not for white women. Second, it shows that state governments used chronological age to regulate the transition to independent citizenship long before the development of other age-based programs such as child labor laws and social security.

Age and Generation in Women's History

    Heineman, Elizabeth D., 1962-
  • Whose Mothers? Generational Difference, War, and the Nazi Cult of Motherhood
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    Subject Headings:
    • Motherhood -- Political aspects -- Germany -- History -- 1933-1945.
    • Mothers -- Government policy -- Germany -- History -- 1933-1945.
    • World War, 1939-1945 -- Germany -- Propaganda.
    Abstract:
      Arguing that we must consider generational difference in our treatment of motherhood, this article analyzes two areas of propaganda and policy regarding women in wartime Nazi Germany: women's contribution to the war economy and their mourning of men who fell at war. The regime believed younger women (mothers included) to be more fit than older women for paid labor, while it considered older women's housework essential to their civilian husbands' performance at work. Propaganda emphasizing the sacrifices of the bereaved war mother over the war widow (and mother of young children) helped the regime claim to honor motherhood, even as its labor policies intensified the work of mothering. The differentiation of mothers according to age more generally reflects welfare states' desire to appeal to popular pro-mother sentiment while limiting the costs of subsidizing motherhood.

Contemporary Issues

    Robertson, Claire C., 1944-
  • Age, Gender, and Knowledge Revolutions in Africa and the United States
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    Subject Headings:
    • Education -- Social aspects -- Africa.
    • Computer literacy -- Social aspects -- United States.
    • Knowledge, Sociology of.
    Bronstein, Phyllis.
  • Older Women in Academia: Contemporary History and Issues
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    Subject Headings:
    • Women college teachers -- United States.
    • Women -- Employment -- United States.
    • Discrimination in employment -- United States.
    Abstract:
      Although some older female scholars have risen to positions of prominence and respect in their institutions and fields, many more have remained in the background or on the periphery, marginalized by age-related discriminatory practices that are both pervasive and unacknowledged. This article examines the social and institutional factors that have shaped the present-day careers and experiences of older women in academia. It analyzes the effects of institutional disregard and denigration of family role demands on older women's careers, as well as the age-related stereotyping, exclusion, and exploitation that have often limited their advancement and their satisfaction in their work. In addition, it considers the ways in which older women's internalization of societal and institutional ageism has helped to perpetuate their marginality, and proposes means by which the combined ageism and sexism affecting the careers of older women faculty can be addressed.

Book Reviews

    French, Katherine L.
  • Young and Single in the Middle Ages
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    Subject Headings:
    • Lewis, Katherine J., 1969-, ed. Young medieval women.
    • Menuge, Noël James, ed.
    • Phillips, Kim M., ed.
    • Women -- History -- Middle Ages, 500-1500.
    Craig, Leigh Ann.
  • Gender outside Marriage: Reconsidering Medieval Widowhood and Virginity
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    Subject Headings:
    • Carlson, Cindy L., 1953-, ed. Constructions of widowhood and virginity in the Middle Ages.
    • Weisl, Angela Jane, 1963-, ed.
    • Literature, Medieval -- History and criticism.
    Banner, Lois W.
  • Coming of Age: A Cultural Studies Approach to Aging
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    Subject Headings:
    • Woodward, Kathleen M., ed. Figuring age: women, bodies, generations.
    • Aged women -- Social conditions.
    Gilmore, Stephanie.
  • Looking Back, Thinking Ahead: Third Wave Feminism in the United States
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    Subject Headings:
    • Findlen, Barbara, ed. Listen up: voices from the next generation.
    • Walker, Rebecca, ed. To be real: telling the truth and changing the face of feminism.
    • Feminism -- United States.



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