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* English Research: ENG 314 Women's Literature --Dr. Waterman

Use this guide as a starting point for researching literary topics.


 I used to go on college campuses 25 years ago and announce I was a feminist, and people thought it meant I believed in free love and was available for a quick hop in the sack. ... Now I go on college campuses and say I'm a feminist, and half of them think it means I'm a lesbian. How'd we get from there to here without passing "Go"? 

         ~ Molly Ivins


Welcome to our Course Guide for Women's Literature.  Use this guide as a starting point for researching literary topics. Please use the tabs above to find quality resources.  If you need more assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me or one of the other reference librarians.  We're always happy to help!


Cult of True Womanhood- references

The database American Periodicals Series Online contains over 1,100 periodicals that first began publishing between 1740 and 1900.,It includes digitalized copies of magazines including several mentioned in The Cult of True Womanhood.  (Ladies Companion, Godeys, Ladies Repository & Ladies' Pearl.

20th century US Women

Q&A with Stephanie Coontz, author of

A STRANGE STIRRING: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s


What surprised you most in writing this book?

The most striking thing was just how few rights women had in the 1960s and how many social prejudices women faced, including housewives who were doing exactly what the culture told them to do, devoting themselves fulltime to their husbands and children. 

            In 1963, only 8 states granted a homemaker any legal right to her husband’s earnings, even if she had made his career possible by doing all the childrearing or had put him through school. In all but four states, a husband had the right to unilaterally determine a couple’s legal residence. If he moved away and she refused to follow, perhaps staying behind to help out her aging parents, he could charge her with desertion and get a fault-based divorce decree in his favor. The concept of marital rape did not exist. Domestic violence was not taken seriously. In fact, most experts claimed that if a wife was beaten, it was her own fault for being too “unfeminine,” and might even serve a good purpose by allowing the husband to recover his masculinity.

            Although being a stay-at-home housewife was the cultural norm, disrespect for homemakers permeated the mass media. Homemakers were labeled “drones” and “neutering parasites.” Experts deemed “mom-ism” – the disease of giving mothers too much respect and power – as great a danger to society as communism. Stay-at-home mothers were accused of infantilizing their children, emasculating their husbands, and driving men to an early grave by their pressure to “keep up with the Joneses.” And moms were also responsible for producing schizophrenia, homosexuality, and narcissism in their sons. All this invective came from anti-feminists, not feminists.

How accurate is the TV series “Mad Men” in its portrayal of what it was like for women in the workplace in the early 1960s?

If anything, the reality was even more appalling than the fiction. “Help wanted” ads were still divided into separate male and female categories. “You must be really beautiful” was a legally acceptable prerequisite for becoming a secretary, and women were seldom hired or promoted to any other job category. On average, a female college graduate earned less than a white male high school drop out. A woman I interviewed told me that in 1958, when she told her 5th-grade class that she wanted to be a pilot, the entire class, led by the teacher, burst into laughter.


Toni Morrison "I don't want to be an honorary male writer..."

Your Assignments or Why do you need the library ?

Class Presentation

Once during the semester, as part of a small group, you will be responsible for giving a short presentation and leading the class discussion for a 50 minute or so portion of the class. Your group should meet in advance to select critical texts, plan the presentation, and develop discussion questions.  The goal of the presentation is to address key critical issues surrounding the text, be it social, historical, cultural, and so on. The group could also choose to select key passages for close textual reading and interpretation.  To prepare for the presentation, your group should locate a number of critical articles (journal articles or book chapters) about the text (or the author’s work) and select a few that seem relevant and interesting.  Read these articles carefully and summarize their main ideas.  This will provide the basis of your presentation and contribute to the focus of the presentation. The discussion may take any form you wish (whole class, small groups, etc.), but you should have a list of discussion questions prepared in advance.

Digital Film

Web Sites