In the recent past, feminist attempts to document women's participation in all aspects of American life have been complicated by a disagreement over the meaning of "woman" as a category of inquiry and the relationship of that category to other categories of analysis, such as race, class, ethnicity, or sexual preference. Using the autobiographies of Jane Grey Swisshelm, a white newspaper editor, and Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, as a case study, this article argues that focusing on diversity and difference has tended to obscure the ways in which the lives of all kinds of women are linked to each other and how women have exploited the differences among themselves to contexualize their experiences, to anticipate the ways those experiences might be understood by others, and to create their own public personas to suit their own purposes.


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pp. 8-33
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