Tag Archives: women’s history

Cultural Literacy: Greta Garbo

If you can use it, which I suppose is another way of saying if you have a student with an interest in her, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Greta Garbo. This is a half-page worksheet with a three-sentence reading and three comprehension questions. A simple, but effective introduction to this famously reclusive woman.

May I presume to recommend a viewing of Ninotchka? I doubt anyone would be sorry he or she watched this fine film.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Abigail Adams on Patriotism

“Patriotism in the female sex is the most disinterested of all virtues. Excluded from honors and from offices, we cannot attach ourselves to the State or Government from having held a place of eminence…. Yet all history and every age patriotic virtue in the female sex; which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours.”

Letter to John Adams, 17 June 1782

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

The Weekly Text, 25 March 2022, Women’s History Month 2022 Week IV: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Julia Child

For the final Friday of Women’s History Month 2022, here is a reading on Julia Child along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Whatever one thinks of French cooking, which Ms. Child brought to American cuisine, she was by any measure an accomplished woman.

I confess ignorance where both French cooking and Ms. Child are concerned–my own palate, alas, is undeniably plebeian. In researching this post, I learned that she stood six feet, two inches tall; her height disqualified her from World War II service in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) or the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services). She joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to today’s Central Intelligence Agency, where she worked directly with OSS founder General William J. (“Wild Bill”) Donovan. According to Ms. Child’s Wikipedia page, in her service to the OSS, she took on the task of solving the problem of curious sharks setting off underwater explosives placed by the OSS. She experimented with recipes that would serve as shark repellent; her method is still in use today.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Rotten Reviews: The Feminine Mystique

“…It is a pity that Mrs. Friedan has to fight so hard to persuade herself as well as her readers of her argument. In fact her passion against the forces of the irrational in life quite carries her away.

Yale Review 

It is superficial to blame the ‘culture’ and its handmaidens, the women’s magazines, as she does… To paraphrase a famous line, ‘the fault dear Ms. Friedan, is not in our culture, but in ourselves.’”

New York Times Book Review

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.   

Cultural Literacy: Victorian Period

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Victorian Period. The era is named, of course, for Queen Victoria and her outsized influence on British mores during her reign. This full-page worksheet leads with a four-sentence reading which includes two long compounds, and six comprehension questions. In other words, a decent summary of an important social, economic, diplomatic, and political period in Great Britain,

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Magdalena Abakanowicz

“Magdalena Abakanowicz: (1930-2017) Polish sculptor. A descendant of nobility, she graduated from Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1955. She became the pioneer and leading exponent of sculpture made of woven fabrics, calling her three-dimensional weavings ‘Abakans’ (from her surname). She produced series of fabric forms called Heads (1975), Backs (1976-80), Embryology (1980), and Catharsis (1986). She has also exhibited paintings, drawings, and sculptures in other media internationally, and has been widely imitated in Europe and the U.S. Beginning in 1965, she taught at Poznan.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Queen Victoria

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Queen Victoria. This full-page document contains a five-sentence reading with one longish compound, and six comprehension questions. It’s suitable, therefore, to use as independent practice, aka homework; it would make a suitable piece of classwork, or even make-up work, as well. Or, because it is a Microsoft Word document, you can export it to a word processor of your preference, or edit it as is, for the needs of your students.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Claire Booth Luce

“Clare Boothe Luce: (1903-1987): American playwright and diplomat. Following her divorce from George T. Brokaw in 1929, Luce worked as an editor at Vogue and Vanity Fair. She published a novel, Stuffed Shirts (1933), under the name Clare Boothe Brokaw. In 1935 she married the publisher Henry Luce. She is best known for a series of theatrical successes, including The Women (1936), Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1938), Margin for Error (1939), Child of the Morning (1951), and Slam the Door Softly (1970). Luce’s political interests led her to public service. She served two terms (1943-47) in the House of Representatives from Connecticut and was ambassador to Italy from 1953 to 1956. She was confirmed as ambassador to Brazil in 1959 but resigned without serving because of controversy surrounding her confirmation.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

The Weekly Text, 18 March 2022, Women’s History Month 2022 Week III: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Queen Elizabeth I

For the third week of Women’s History Month 2022, here is a reading on Queen Elizabeth I with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Her reign was long–44 years. Queen Elizabeth II currently reigning, has held her throne for 70 years and 33 days as of this writing.

Elizabeth I was a powerful monarch, and the achievements of her age earned her the honorific of her era’s name, the Elizabethan Age. Like Elizabeth II, who had dealt with her share of family dysfunction: she was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn; after Henry executed Anne (and I didn’t know this until I prepared the material above), Elizabeth I was declared “retroactively illegitimate.”

In my experience, and speaking generally, the salacious details of upper class idiocy, shame, and hypocrisy tends to interest secondary school students. After all, as the great Los Angeles punk band X (featuring Exene Cervenka) so elegantly put it, that’s “Sex and Dying in High Society.”

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Nawal El Saadawi

“Nawal El Saadawi: (1931-2021) Egyptian writer. The foremost woman writer of Egypt and the Middle East, el Saadawi has published nearly thirty books of fiction and sociology. She is also an influential activist for woman’s rights and a medical doctor. About half of her work has been translated from Arabic into English, including several novels. Woman at Point Zero (1983) is about a young village girl forced into prostitution and condemned to die for murder. The novel, which has been translated into twenty-two languages, chronicles the sexual exploitation of women in Egypt and examine the narrow range of options available to women in a conformist society. Other novels include God Dies by the Nile (1987), The Fall of the Imam (1988), and The Innocence of the Devil (1992). El Saadawi’s fiction draws on indigenous Arabic narratives, and thus her prose often seems highly stylized and poetic. Death of an Ex-Minister and Other Stories (tr 1987) reveals her experiments with diction, with the various narrative voices usually speaking in a monologue. The Hidden Face of Eve (1980), a sociological work, was the first book to document the horrors of clitoridectomy in northeastern Africa. El Saadawi has also written a travel account and political tracts devoted to women’s causes.

As Health Minister under the Anwar Sadat regime, el Saadawi was imprisoned for her outspoken opposition to that government’s social policies, which produced Memoirs from a Women’s Prison (tr 1986). In 1982 she formed the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association (AWSA), and international women’s organization which has a consultative status with the United Nations and combats state repression and censorship, The Cairo chapter of AWSA was forcibly closed in 1991, though it continues to operate without headquarters.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.