English 3330 and History 3341:
Gender Studies: Representing 19th-century American Women's Work
Fall 2003
MW 2:00-3:15; SS 102

Instructors: Drs. Ann Pullen and Sarah Robbins, Kennesaw State University
Telphone: 770-423-6294 (Pullen) and 770-423-6127 (Robbins)
Email: apullen@kennesaw.edu and srobbins@kennesaw.edu
Office Hours (Office of Humanities Building, 204, in International Center suite)
· for Robbins: M 4:00-5:00; W 1:00-2:00 and by appointment; online regularly
· for Pullen: M 3:15-4:00; W 1:00-2:00 and by appointment; online regularly

Description of the course:

Focusing especially on women's involvement in education, this course will examine the cultural work of print texts and images depicting women's labor in the United States, especially during the long nineteenth century (1780-1920). In magazines, through literary illustrations and in popular culture documents such as advertising cards, images of women at work depicted a range of teaching and learning roles American women could take on in their everyday lives--e.g., in the home, at a factory loom, in a schoolroom, or as participants in "Americanization" movements in a range of settings. Circulating in mass culture, such images played a part in nineteenth-century culture similar to television advertising, film, and print advertisements today: they reinforced some possibilities for women's work through constant repetition and emphasis, while "selecting out" other options through omission. Consistent with recent interdisciplinary scholarship in American Studies, cultural studies, literature, history and women's studies, therefore, this course will explore ways in which the public representation of women's work contributed to the nineteenth-century social construction of gendered roles in a variety of ethnic groups and social classes.

By interpreting published images in their own original historical and rhetorical contexts, students in this course will acquire an enhanced understanding of how such texts have functioned in the past and still function today. Students will learn to present and interpret images and related print texts as "representations" that reflect and/or resist dominant ideas and beliefs circulating in a particular era. Course readings will include primary and secondary materials from literature and history. Student projects will set selected images of women teachers and learners in a specific cultural context linked to print texts so as to invite others' critical interpretations of how social roles are shaped in American society. Students may enroll for either History or English credit.

Students should be willing to try out various technologies in new ways to support their learning and their ability to present knowledge to diverse audiences. Along those lines, students will participate in a computer listserv/bulletin board, they will use the Internet as a resource for active research, and they will practice creating and critiquing visual imagery through various technologies to study women's culture.

Core print texts: Twenty Years at Hull-House (Addams), Iola Leroy (Harper), Arrogant Beggar (Yezierska), A New England Girlhood (Larcom), Memoir of James Jackson, the Obedient Scholar (Paul), essays from Atlantic Monthly [published in paperback in American Indian Stories, Legends and Other Writings] by Zitkala Sa, additional texts in a course pack (e.g., from Sarah Hale, Lydia Sigourney, Catharine Beecher, Charlotte Forten), online texts (e.g., by Louisa May Alcott and Charlotte Perkins Gilman)

Breakdown of Elements in Students' Grade for the Course

Type of Task

Percentage of Grade

Participation (attendance; discussion during meetings and on the class list-serv)


Test #1


Average of daily-grade reading quizzes


Report on secondary reading for major project (summary and analysis)


Major Project

  1. oral group presentation (10% of the project grade)
  2. group-written "cultural context" discussion and interpretive questions for website (10%)
  3. individual reflective essay--description and analysis of your individual working process and contributions to the product (10%)




participation grade:

You may miss one class, for any reason, without penalty. After one absence, unexcused absences will have a negative impact on your participation grade. The quantity and quality of your classroom discussion involvement will also be evaluated. In addition, you should make at least three substantive contributions to the course list-serv/bulletin board, two before the mid-term point in the course, with each of these contributions being at least a short paragraph in length. Specific suggestions for how to make your entries "substantive" (e.g., by demonstrating understanding of a key reading, by responding thoughtfully to another's comments, by raising a provocative question that spurs others to think) will be outlined in class.


The first test will be before the mid-point of the term. Most questions on the test will be objective, multiple-choice format. Some short answer and/or a brief essay question may be included. The second test will be in November, before Thanksgiving, and it will cover only material addressed in class since the first test.

reading quizzes:

On some days, you will have a "spot check" quiz over your reading assignment. These will be a series of multiple choice or open-ended factual questions to assess your reading of the assignment, at a basic level. (We will formulate the questions with the idea that you have done only one reading of the text, not studied it closely.) We will drop your lowest quiz grade. If you miss class on a day when a quiz is given, you will receive a zero for that quiz grade.

report on secondary reading:

You will write a short report on your reading of one secondary text (e.g., a critical analysis of literature, a piece of historical scholarship) based on the topic you are investigating for your major project. Your instructors will help you identify an appropriate reading for the assignment, and a separate directions sheet will be provided. In general terms, you will provide the following: a citation in MLA format, a summary of the reading, a brief interpretation/analysis of the reading's implications for your project.

Major project:

Working with others on a team of your own choosing, you will prepare written material for a web presentation of images and analysis of those images in light of the course's content and goals. You will submit a paper and a digital copy of your writing. For samples of the writing to be done for this project, visit this website: http://www.kennesaw.edu/hss/wwork under "Themes for Study." Detailed directions for preparing your project will be provided in class and via separate handout. You will also share your work with the whole class in an oral presentation by your team, and you will write an individual essay about the processes you used to do your part of the project, your contributions to the whole team effort, and what you learned from the collaboration.


Every KSU student is responsible for upholding the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct, as published in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs. Section II of the Student Code of Conduct addresses the University's policy on academic honesty, including provisions regarding plagiarism and cheating, unauthorized access to University materials, misrepresentation/falsification of University records or academic work, malicious removal, retention, or destruction of library materials, malicious/intentional misuse of computer facilities and/or services, and misuse of student identification cards. Incidents of alleged academic misconduct will be handled through the established procedures of the University Judiciary Program, which includes either an "informal" resolution by a faculty member, resulting in a grade adjustment, or a formal hearing procedure, which may subject a student to the Code of Conduct's minimum one semester suspension requirement.


Tentative Schedule of Readings, Discussions and Major Assignments

[CP= a reading assignment from the course pack]


Aug. 18: Course Introduction
Topics to be presented: women's work in U.S. history and culture, including migration, benevolence, and more (images from mission work, reform, and the journey west via the "Women's Work" website at http://www.kennesaw.edu/hss/wwork

Aug. 20: Domestic Education of, by and for 19th-century American women
Reading assignment: Letters to Mothers (excerpt--handout) and Live and Let Live (preface excerpt) in handout and course pack; Professor Robbins' article on "'The Future Good and Great of Our Land'" from the New England Quarterly [on WebCT]
Topics for discussion to include: republican motherhood, managing the domestic help

Aug. 25: Schoolteaching as Women's Work
Reading assignments: "The Village Schoolmistress" (course pack), Live and Let Live (entire excerpt in course pack); excerpt (handout) from the diary of Nellie Arnott (a missionary teacher in Africa)
Discussion topics to include: gendered ideals of teaching from the early Republic through the early twentieth century

Aug. 27: Antebellum Curriculum for (Middle-class White) Women and Girls
Reading assignments: The Boarding School (excerpt), Catalogue of the Hartford Female Seminary and Catharine Beecher's Suggestions (excerpts), "Female Education," "The Question" [all in the course pack]

Sept.1: LABOR DAY-No Class meeting

September 3: Antebellum Curriculum for Working Class Women and Girls II
Reading assignment: A New England Girlhood, several chapters (I, II, V, XII)

Sept. 8: Learning in the Factory Environment (Case Study: The Lowell Mills)
Reading assignment: the Lowell Mills website, complete A New England Girlhood (VII, IX [only 196-202], X) http://web.bryant.edu/~history/h364proj/fall_99/kroner/page3.htm

Sept. 10: Learning in the Factory (Case Studies: Ghirardelli versus Triangle)
Reading assignment: web materials on Ghirardelli compared and contrasted with Triangle Factory fire stories

Sept. 15: Antebellum African American Education--north
Reading assignment: Memoir of James Jackson, the Obedient Scholar
Discussion topics to include: connections and disjunctions with the white models of schoolteaching and republican motherhood

Sept. 17: Antebellum African American Education-south (versus north)
Reading assignments: complete discussion of the Memoir, comparing and contrasting with Iola Leroy, early chapters

Sept. 22: Reconstruction I
Reading assignments: Charlotte Forten's Atlantic essay on "Life on the Sea Islands" (cp), Frances Harper's "Chloe" poems sequence (handout), Iola Leroy, additional chapters

Sept. 24: Reconstruction II
Reading assignments: Iola Leroy, complete reading

Sept. 29: Post-Reconstruction African American Education
Reading assignment: website material on early days of Spelman College http://www.kennesaw.edu/english/kmwp/AmerCommunities/thematic_content/educating_for_citizenship/eduhome.html

Oct. 1: Review Discussions
Class discussions: review for test

Oct. 6: Midterm Test

Oct. 8: Suffrage Education and Introduction of Major Project
Reading assignment: 1) Declaration of Sentiments from Seneca Falls, New York, meeting in 1848-online at http://www.closeup.org/sentimnt.htm
2) Carefully read over temperance section of women's work website, within "Benevolence" theme section: /Benevolence/Temperance.htm
Discussion topics to include: rhetorical strategies used to educate the intended audience for the "Declaration," ideas and planning for the major project, strategies for researching and writing segments of the major project

Oct. 13: Indian Education at Home versus the Boarding School Environment
Reading Assignment: Zitkala Sa, "Impressions of an Indian Childhood," "School Days of an Indian Girl" and "An Indian Teacher…."; sample drafts of writing similar to major project prepared by members of the class
Discussion topics to include: assimilation theories and practices; contrasting approaches to education
Class activities related to major project: critique of draft exercises by class members

Oct. 15: White women's views of Boarding Schools and of Indian Education
Reading assignments: excerpt from Addams' Twenty Years at Hull-House and selections from Woman's Work for Woman articles on teaching Native Americans (course pack)
Discussion topics to include: similarities and differences between Addams' and Zitkala Sa's boarding school experiences, visions/versions of Indian learning in missionary accounts; race issues and education
Class activities related to major project: writing and discussion of an example image in line with the major project photos and illustrations (before/after Native American schooling)

Oct. 20: Being "doctored" in the nineteenth century; Nursing
Reading assignment: "The Yellow Wallpaper" (online); excerpts from Louisa May Alcott's memoir of nursing
Note: Carefully read Alcott's Hospital Sketches Chapters 3 and 4 (URLs supplied below) and skim the Gilman story ("Yellow Wallpaper"), focusing on the medical (mis)treatment applied to the main character
Online texts for Gilman are available at the addresses below:
(The above version includes helpful hypertext notes explaining key terms and images.)
(This site has a printable PDF version of the text in case you want a "hard" paper copy.)
(The above version has links to study resources.)

Online text from Louisa May Alcott's memoir of working as a Civil War nurse
Online texts for Alcott are available at this address:
Note: You need to read ONLY chapters 3 ("A Day") and 4 ("A Night").

Discussion topics to include: diagnoses of "women's ailments" in the nineteenth century; theories for providing medical treatment for "women's" illnesses, contrasting point of view in "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Hospital Sketches; nursing duties

Oct. 22: The medical profession and women
Reading assignment: excerpts from Elizabeth Blackwell's biography (in course pack) Discussion topics to include: gendering the medical profession's "doctor" and "nurse" roles, challenges facing women physicians-in-training and practicing doctors
Class activities related to major project: discussion of how to write about an image associated with educating women physicians

Oct. 27: Migration, Immigration and Assimilation; Social Reform (introduction)
Reading assignment: "The Wisdom of the New" (handout); "Infant Schools" (cp); "The Chinese in Our Land" (cp); Gold Rush and Migration sections of website
Class discussion: Sui Sin Far's story and Women's Work website sections on the California Gold Rush and Migration
Class activities related to major project: analysis of strengths and weaknesses of website sections, as well as research techniques used to prepare them

Oct. 29: Settlement House Education Programs
Reading assignment: excerpts from Twenty Years at Hull-House (Addams)
Discussion topics to include: Addams' program for educating American immigrants
Planning Worksheet due: turn in your sign-up sheet for major project topic
{Note: You MUST email your sign-up choices if you are absent, or you may be placed in a group for a topic that you would prefer not to work on.}

Nov 3: Missionary Impulse-Home Missions: Charitable education at home in the U.S.
Reading assignment: Arrogant Beggar
Discussion topics to include: middle-class women's "benevolence" toward the lower classes; Adele's alternative model for collaborative reform of communities from within

Nov. 5: Missionary Impulse: American women's foreign mission movement
Reading assignment: complete discussion of Arrogant Beggar; discuss selections from Woman's Work for Woman, a periodical devoted to the American women's foreign mission movement (cp)
Class activity: meet in project teams and begin preparing plan for your project

Nov.10: Work Day for Major Project
Class activity: meet in project teams and complete draft plan for your project

Nov. 12: Critiquing Example of a Website Project: Hats Off to Milliners
Group Writing Assignment due: Group research plan
Class activity: critiquing sample of completed website project Students will view and critique strengths and weaknesses of a section of the "Women's Work" website related to the topic of Lady Milliners. (See "Service and Industry" section of website.)

Nov. 17: Workshopping and Conferencing
Individual Writing Assignment due: summary and application of a secondary source you are using for the project, including draft of a cultural context discussion Students will share drafts of their major projects and conference with the instructors on approaches for revising and editing.
Providing peer feedback on drafts of major projects
Class activity: Project team meetings-emphasis on cultural context

Nov. 19: Workshopping and Conferencing
Students will share drafts of their major projects and conference with the instructors on approaches for revising and editing.
Providing peer feedback on drafts of major projects
Class activities: Project team meetings-emphasis on interpretive questions; review for test

Nov. 24: Short Test and Workshopping/Conferencing with Instructors

Nov. 26: Holiday

Dec. 1: Presentations

Dec. 3: Presentations
Major assignment due: reflective essays due for EVERYONE, no matter what day your oral presentation is scheduled

Dec. 10-C: Exam-2:00-4:00 (exam time)--Presentations