Tag Archives: women’s history

Doris Lessing

“Doris Lessing: (1919-2013) English novelist and short-story writer, born in Persia and for many years a resident of southern Rhodesia. Lessing’s first two published works, The Grass Is Singing (1950) and the stories in This Was the Old Chief’s Country (1951), are sent in Africa. She then began work on a series called ‘The Children of Violence’—including Martha Quest (1952), A Proper Marriage (1954), A Ripple from the Storm (1958), Landlocked (1965), and The Four-Gated City (1969)—that established her as a vividly realistic novelist, with an intense commitment to socialism and a particular capacity for identifying the social and emotional forces that shape women’s lives. The Golden Nottebook (1962), and ambitious experimental novel about a woman writer’s struggle to discover the meaning of ‘self’ has become a classic of feminist literature. While the primary interest in all of her work has remained the delicate, often destructive interplay between men and women, Lessing has continually expanded both her field of focus and her stylistic experiments. Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) and The Summer Before the Dark (1973) delve into aspects of neurotic disorders and madness. The ‘Canopus in Argus: Archives’ series, which is made up of RE: Colonized Planet 5, Shikasta (1979), The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five (1980), The Sirian Experiments (1981), The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982), and Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983) is a series of visionary, allegorical novels of the future in which archetypal images of men and women interact in a cosmos consisting of six zones, or ‘levels of being.’ Human concerns are dwarfed by the competition between galactic empires for control of the universe, but these conflicts also are an image of human history. The Good Terrorist, a novel, appeared in 1986. Lessing has also gained high praise as a writer of short stories. Among the most noteworthy of her collections are African Stories (1965), The Habit of Loving (1958), and The Stories of Doris Lessing (1978). Nonfiction works include African Laughter (1992), and Under My Skin (1994), a collection of essays.”

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

Cultural Literacy: Ruth Benedict

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Ruth Benedict, a towering figure in the study of anthropology in the United States. This is a short worksheet, three questions only, that doesn’t do justice to this path-breaking scholar.

Like Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. Benedict studied with Franz Boas at Columbia University. In fact, if Ms. Hurston’s Wikipedia page is accurate (I understand educators’ trepidation where Wikipedia is concerned, but entries like this–generally non-controversial–are reliable) she worked with Dr. Benedict at Columbia. Dr. Benedict and Ms. Hurston also worked with Margaret Mead, and Dr. Benedict apparently engaged in an intense romantic affair with Dr. Mead. Serving as president of the American Anthropological Association, Dr. Benedict was the first woman to lead a learned society in the United States. Her book Patterns of Culture became a standard text in the study of anthropology, and as far as I can tell remains an enduring classic.

In other words, Ruth Benedict is clearly an appropriate subject, in the hands of an interested student, for what was called in one high school in which I served a “college paper.”

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.

Susanna Kaysen on Developmental Interruptions

“This time I read the title of the painting: Girl Interrupted at Her Music. Interrupted at her music: as my life had been, interrupted in the music of being seventeen, as her life had been, snatched and fixed on canvas: one moment, made to stand still and to stand for all the other moments, whatever they could be or might have been. What life can recover from that?”

Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted (1993)

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

Cultural Literacy: Girl Scouts of the United States of America

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. This is a short worksheet, a half-pager, with three questions. In other words, there are two worksheet on every page. That said, you may alter or adapt this document for your use–it is in Microsoft Word and easily exportable to a word processing program of your preference.

I don’t know much about the Girl Scouts (though like many people, I expect, I am intimately familiar with their cookie varieties); I was a Boy Scout myself. In the little bit of research I’ve conducted about scouting for this post, I did notice that while The Girl Scouts have not been immune to sexual abuse scandals, although a review of the Scouting sex abuse cases discloses that this is primarily a problem in the Boy Scouts.

In general, I have only one question about this: what the hell is wrong with people?

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.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Education and Personal Freedom

“The isolation of every human soul and the necessity of self-dependence must give each individual the right, to choose his own surroundings. The strongest reason for giving woman all the opportunities of higher education, for the full development of her faculties, her forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear, is the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Speech before Senate Judiciary Committee, 18 Jan. 1892

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

The Weekly Text, March 26, 2021, Women’s History Month 2021 Week IV: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Second-Feminism

This week’s Text, for the final Friday of Women’s History Month 2021, is a reading on second-wave feminism along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

While I understood the historical divide between feminisms, my understanding was mostly intuitive and instinctive. This short reading explains well the difference between first-wave feminism, to wit the Women’s Suffrage movement which culminated in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the second wave, which began in the 1960s. The second wave, incidentally, apparently continues to today, as reversals, or the threat of reversals, of the gains made necessitate the ongoing function of a feminist movement.

In any event, this reading summarizes this history concisely, as well as supplying students with a quick way to gain this vital piece of prior knowledge about United States history.

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.

Flora MacDonald

“Flora MacDonald: (1722-1790) Scottish Jacobite heroine who aided Prince Charles Edward Stuart in his escape after the Battle of Culloden. MacDonald resided in the U.S. (1774-79), where her husband Allan MacDonald, was a brigadier general in the British Army during the American Revolution.”

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

Anne Boleyn

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Anne Boleyn. This is a short worksheet–two sentences and three questions.

From 1533 to 1536, she was the second of Henry VIII’s wives and therefore the Queen of England. She was beheaded for treason. Henry VIII was a piece of work, and this material opens a lot of questions about monarchy and the virtually unlimited power it conferred upon Henry. In my experience teaching high school social studies, Henry VIII’s wives tend to be glossed over in deference to the issues of secular and religious power his reign raises. 

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.

Jeanette Rankin

“Jeanette Rankin: (1880-1973) U.S. reformer, first woman member of the U.S. Congress (1917-1919, 1941-1943). Born in Missoula, Montana, she was social worker from 1909 and became active in women’s suffrage work. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916, she introduced the first bill to give women the vote. A pacifist, she voted against declaring war on Germany (1917). She lost her bid for a U.S. Senate seat (1918) and returned to social work. In 1940 she won reelection to the House, where she became the only legislator to vote against declaration of war on Japan. Declining to seek reelection, she continued to lecture on social reform. In 1968, at 87, she led 5,000 women, the “Jeanette Rankin Brigade,” to protest the Vietnam War.”

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

Cultural Literacy: Madeleine Albright

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Madeleine Albright. This is a full-page document, with a paragraph-length reading and eight questions. As always, however, you may adapt this document, because it is in Microsoft Word, to your students’ needs.

Secretary Albright–the first woman in United States history, incidentally, to serve as Secretary of State–requires little introduction. In her retirement from government service, she has remained active as a scholar of and commentator on world affairs. Most recently, observing (as any sentient person has, I hope) the rise of far right-wing strongmen around the globe, she published a book on fascism, a notoriously slippery subject. The book was well received, so it probably merits a look at some point.

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.