Creating Women: An Interdisciplinary Anthology of Readings on Women in Western Culture, Volume II / Edition 1

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Overview

Creating Women is a rich, interdisciplinary, anthology of primary source material examining women's participation in and contributions to western culture over the centuries. It documents prevalent concepts of the nature of women and women's roles and status in diverse cultures, geographic locations, and periods of western civilization. Narrative framework, biographical vignettes, and introductions to documents carefully place women and their achievements within the social context in which they lived and worked.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780137596300
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 8/23/2004
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Our goal in writing this two-volume work is to provide students and instructors with a more comprehensive understanding of the history of humankind than has previously been available to the non-specialist. As the title suggests, these volumes document the significant part women have played in the development of Western civilization, from the Upper Paleolithic era (we begin ca. 35,000 B.C.E.) to the present. We have brought together a varied collection of primary source materials including archeological artifacts, images, and texts that reveal women's participation in all aspects of human culture, religion, the visual and performing arts, literature, philosophy, and public affairs.

We deliberately chose our title, Creating Women, because, in addition to its obvious reference to creative women, it reflects another important dimension of Western civilization: The ways in which societal notions of gender (masculine/feminine) and gender roles have in essence "created" and/or "constructed" women. A significant consequence of this social construction is that women's experiences and opportunities have often differed in significant ways from those of men. Together, the documents tell much about Western notions of sex differences and how and why "the woman question" continues to be among the most persistent controversies in Western thought and discourse.

Creating Women, like many other new texts, evolved from the need for reading materials for a new course. In 1985, a team of Florida State University faculty and graduate students from history, dance, theater, music, English, classics, religion, humanities, and art history received a university grant to develop an introductory course for women's studies that would also fulfill part of the university's liberal studies requirements. Jean Gould Bryant, director of the women's studies program, led that project and Linda Bennett Elder was a member of the development team from its inception.

The decision to develop an interdisciplinary humanities course was prompted by several considerations. We wanted a course to complement an existing humanities sequence that introduced students to the traditional canon of cultural developments of Western civilization but made few references to women's contributions. We also sought to fill curriculum gaps in classics, music, art history, theater, and European history and to provide a catalyst for the creation of courses on women and gender across the arts and sciences. We hoped as well to create incentives for faculty to include information related to women's accomplishments and experiences within existing courses. The course, Women in Western Culture: Images and Realities, was a vital addition to our women's studies curriculum that had previously focused almost exclusively on the Western world since the seventeenth century, with heavy emphasis on contemporary American society.

In 1986, as now, there were a few discipline-specific texts and anthologies of secondary articles and primary source readings, but no interdisciplinary text or anthology concerning women existed and no anthology spanned the entire history of Western civilization. As we proceeded to refine Women in Western Culture, we recognized not only the need for an interdisciplinary reader, but also a unique situation for developing such a text. Since 1986, we have used a variety of readings, audio-visual resources, and lecture material in our respective courses on women in Western humanities. We have also explored different configurations of chronology and course themes suggested by the critiques, questions and responses of our students, and our mutual assessments. We discovered, for example, that although many contemporary feminist scholars ignore religion, religion is one of the most prevalent markers of women's participation in culture from prehistory through the medieval period, and it remained a critical factor through the nineteenth century. Over time we integrated the discrete multidisciplinary pieces of our examination of women into a coherent truly interdisciplinary course that highlighted major themes and patterns that emerged across disciplines and centuries.

The results have been exciting for us and for our students. We discovered that examining women's cultural achievements and struggles provides an innovative framework for discussing women's legal, socioeconomic, religious, and/or political status in different times and places. We found that the multidisciplinary approach ensures that each student will discover some individuals whose life/work matches her or his personal interests or career aspirations and may indeed discover new role models or cultural icons for inspiration. We also learned that bringing women and their voices to the forefront sometimes radically changed our understanding of certain periods of Western civilization and often introduced provocative new cultural forms, alternative visions of society and its institutions, and challenging critiques of values, ideas, and societal arrangements that many have regarded as "fixed" Western cultural traditions.

Creating Women is the product of an extended period of living with the material, adding to it and reconfiguring it in response to input from our students and colleagues. Both volumes integrate insights from an abundance of new scholarship that has enriched women's history in all fields over the last three decades. We believe that the interdisciplinary approach we have taken in these volumes and the expansive time-span that we have elected to cover will generate spirited discussion. Our approach will also add significantly to the reader's understanding of women and gender in Western civilization, thereby providing a more complete and realistic picture of the history of humankind.

CREATING WOMEN: STRUCTURE

Each volume consists of three parts with five chapters in each. Volume one encompasses women and culture from prehistory through the middle ages:

  • Part I: Women in Prehistory and the Ancient Near East
  • Part II: Women in the Mediterranean and Greco-Roman World
  • Part III: Women in the Roman Empire, Christian Origins, Late Antiquity, and the Middle Ages

Volume Two encompasses women and culture from the Renaissance to the present:

  • Part I: Women in Early Modern Europe
  • Part II: Women and Culture, 1750-1920
  • Part III: Women and Culture in the Twentieth Century
CREATING WOMEN: FEATURES
  • The narrative, biographical vignettes, and document introductions place women and their achievements within the broader social-political context in which they lived and worked.
  • Introductory narrative helps guide students' analysis of material and facilitates class discussion.
  • Maps, charts, and narrative link women and their achievements with more familiar events and personages in Western civilization and also illustrate significant clusters of female creativity.
  • Selected bibliographies facilitate student projects and enable instructors to enrich classes with audiovisual material.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part I Women in Early Modern Europe

Chapter 1 The Italian Renaissance

The Renaissance Lady: The Ideal and Two Examplars

Baldesar Castiglione (1478—1529)

The Renaissance Lady from The Book of the Courtier

Isabella d’Este (1474—1539):Model Renaissance Lady

Isabella to Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona, 13 January 1519

Lorenzo da Pavia to Isabella, 26 July 1501

Sofonisba Anguissola (1532—1625): Renaissance Artist

Letter from Sofonisba Anguissola to Pope Pius IV, 16 September 1561

Letter from Pope Pius IV to Anguissola, from Rome, 15 October 1561

Document Establishing Sofonisba’s Dowry, Issued by Philip II

Women Humanists and Poets

Laura Cereta (1469—1499): Humanist

Excerpts from Letter to Bibulus Sempronius, 13 January 1488

Vittoria Colonna (1492—1547): Poet

“Aspiration”

Gaspara Stampa (1523?—1554): Poet

“She Dictates Her Own Epitaph”

Veronica Franco (1546—1591): Poet

A Warning to a Mother Considering Turning Her Daughter into a Courtesan

From Noble Amateurs to Professional Performers:Women in Theater and Music

The Revival of Italian Drama: Theater at Court and Popular Theater

Isabella Andreini (1562—1604) and the Commedia dell’Arte

Letter to Duke Vicenzo di Gonzaga of Mantua, from Bologna, 27 November 1598

The Emergence of Professional Female Musicians

Urbani Dispatch to Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici, 26 June 1581

Alessandro Striggio to Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici, 29 July 1584

Theater and Music in Italian Convents

Antonia Pulci (1452—1501)

The Play of Saint (Flavia) Domitilla

Convent Music

The Choir of Convent San Vito, 1594

Suggested Readings

Chapter 2 The Age of Religious Ferment

Women in the Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther (1483—1546)

Lecture on “Genesis”

John Calvin (1509—1564)

Excerpt from The Institutes

Argula von Grumbach (1492—ca.1568)

Letter to Frederick the Wise

Katherina Schütz Zell (1498—1562)

Autobiographical Notes on Her Calling

Elizabeth I, Rex (r.1558—1603)

Jeanne d’Albret (1528—1572)

Letter to Cardinal de Armagnac

English Female Martyr Elizabeth Young

Inquisition Examinations of Elizabeth Young

Women in the Catholic Reformation

Teresa of Avila (1515—1582)

“The Circumstances Surrounding the Foundation of the Monastery of St. Joseph in Medina del Campo”

Maria Cazalla

On the Inquisition

Jews and the English Reformation

Sara Lopez (1550—159?)

A Petition to Elizabeth I

Suggested Readings

Chapter 3 The Northern Renaissance

Women Writers of France

Marguerite of Navarre (1492—1549) 49

“First Day. Novel VII” of The Heptameron, Vol. I

Louise Labé (ca.1520—1566)

Labé’s Sonnets

Dedicatory Epistle to Mademoiselle Clémence de Bourges, 25 July 1555

Women in Renaissance England

Elizabeth I of England (1553—1603)

“The Doubt of Future Foes,” circa 1577

Elizabeth’s Response to Parliament’s Petition that She Marry, 10 February, 1559

The Queen’s Speech to her Army on the Eve of the Spanish Invasion, 1558

Women and Renaissance Drama

Elizabeth Tanfield Cary (1585—1639): Playwright

The Tragedy of Mariam, The Fair Queen of Jewry, 1613

The Woman Question in England

Jane Anger, her Protection for Women (1589)

Mary Tattlewell and Joan Hit-him-home, “The women’s sharp revenge” (1640)

Suggested Readings

Chapter 4 Artists,Musicians, and Performers in the Baroque Era

Women and Culture in Italy

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593—ca1653): Baroque Artist

Letters to Don Antonio Ruffo, 1649

Women and Music: A Cluster of Female Creativity

Francesca Caccini (1587—ca1630):Medici Composer and Singer

“Maria, dolce Maria” from Il Primo Libro

Angelo Grillo, Letter to Francesca Caccini, 1612, from Venice

Caccini to Michelangelo Buonarroti, 18 December 1614, from Florence

Barbara Strozzi (1619—1664?): Venetian Composer and Singer

Strozzi’s Dedications

“Merce di voi” (Thanks to You)

Venetian Ospedali-Conservatorios: The First Music Schools for Girls

Burney’s Description of the Venetian Conservatories, August 1770

Convent Musicians and Church Restrictions

Council of Trent Decree Regulating Female Religious, 20 November 165

Punishments Ordered by Carlo Borromeo, 30 March 1571

Orders for the “Destruction of Vices and Maintenance of Virtue” at the Convent of Maria Annunciata,Milan, 1622

Account of Cosimo III de’ Medici’s Visit to Santa Radegonda, 25 June 1664

Women and Cultural Change during the Reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV

Elizabeth Jacquet De La Guerre (1664/67—1729):Musician

Description of Elisabeth Jacquet from the Mercure Galant, July 1677

Dedication of “Les Jeux à l’honneur de la victoire” to Louis XIV, 1691

Dedication of “Pieces for the Harpsichord and Sonatas for the Violin and for the Harpsichord,” 1707

Women on Stage: Ballet

Marie Camargo’s Paris Debut, 1726

Camargo’s Innovations

Marie Sallé in “Pygmalion,” 1734

Rosalba Carriera (1675—1757): Rococo Portrait Artist

“Concerning Feminine Studies”

Suggested Readings

Chapter 5 Writers and Intellectuals in the Baroque Era

Learned Women from Continental Europe and the Americas

Anna Maria van Schurman (1607—1678): Learned Woman and Pietist Leader

Whether the Study of Letters Is Fitting for a Christian Woman (1641)

Eukleria (1673)

Anne Bradstreet (1612—1672): First English Poet of the New World

“The Prologue”

“Before the Birth of One of My Children”

Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz (1648—1695): The New World’s First Major Writer

The Answer/La Respuesta (1691)

England’s “Female Wits”

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623—1674)

Excerpts from Bell in Campo

Aphra Behn (1640—1689)

“Francisca’s Song” from The Dutch Lover (1673)

“Preface” to The Luckey Chance, or an Alderman’s Bargain (1686)

Anne Kingsmill Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661—1720)

“The Introduction”

“The Unequal Fetters”

Suggested Readings

Part II Women and Culture, 1750—1920

Chapter 6 Age of the Enlightenment and Revolutions

Artists in the Eighteenth Century

Angelica Kauffmann (1741—1807): Swiss Neo-Classical Artist

Abbé Winckelmann to Mr. Franck, 16 July 1764

A Critic’s View of “Hector and Andromache,” the Painting that Ensured Kauffmann’s Admission to the British Royal Academy

Goethe’s Reflections on Kauffmann, Summer 1788

Anna Amalia to Angelica from Naples, 7th of September, 1789

Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun on Kauffmann and Her Work

Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755—1842): French Portrait Artist

Excerpts from Vigée-Lebrun’s Memoirs, “Souvenirs”

The Enlightenment, Revolutions, and Women

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712—1778): French Philosopher

The Education ofWoman from Emíle, 1762

Judith Sargent Murray (1751—1820): American Poet, Essayist, and Playwright

“Desultory Thoughts” by Constantia, October 22, 1784

“On the Equality of the Sexes”

Olympe de Gouges (1748—1793): French Writer and Royalist

The Rights ofWoman, Paris, 1791

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759—1797): English Author and Feminist

A Vindication of the Rights ofWoman (1792)

Germaine de Staël (1766—1817): French Writer

Corinna; or, Italy (1807)

Suggested Readings

Chapter 7 The Victorian Ideal:Writers and Musicians

Literary Women

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley (1797—1851): British Writer

Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus (1818)

Charlotte Brontë (Currer Bell) (1816—1855): British Novelist

Excerpts from Shirley: A Tale

George Sand (1804—1876): French Novelist

Excerpt from My Life, Sand’s Autobiography

Excerpt from Indiana

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825—1911): American Poet and Novelist

“Aunt Chloe’s Politics”

“An Appeal to My Country Women”

Women and Music

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805—1847): German Musician

Excerpts from Mendelssohn Family Letters and Journals

Letter from Fanny to Felix, Berlin, 9 July 1846

Felix Gives His Blessings to Fanny

Clara Schumann (1819—1896): German Composer and Concert Pianist

Clara and Robert Schumann: Dual-Career Couple

Clara’s Thoughts about Music and Her Talent

Coping with Robert’s Mental Illness

Celebrating Her Career as a Concert Pianist, 1878

Women Musicians: Seizing Control of Their Artistic Lives

“The Vienna Lady Orchestra,” New York Times, 13 September 1871

A Late Nineteenth Century Debate: Can Women Become Composers?

George Upton, Why Women are Incapable of Being Composers

Helen J. Clarke, “Why Has It Been Difficult for Women to Compose?”

Suggested Readings

Chapter 8 The Victorian Ideal: The Performing and Visual Arts

Women on Stage

Marie Taglioni (1804—1884), Italian Prima Ballerina

Times (London) 3 June 1840: Review of La Gitana

Times (London) 14 July 1845: Review of the Pas de Quatre

Charlotte Cushman (1816—1876): American Actress

English Critic James Sheridan Knowles’s Review of Cushman’s Romeo

Cushman on George Sand

Fundraising for the U. S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War

Cushman’s Farewell New York Performance,Macbeth, 1874

Sculptors and Artists

Harriet Hosmer (1830—1908): American Neoclassical Sculptor

Hosmer to Wayman Crow, 12 October 1854

Lydia Maria Child, Letter to the Boston Transcript about Hosmer’s Zenobia

Hosmer’s Philosophy of Art

Edmonia Lewis (1843?—ca.1911): American Sculptor

“A Negro Sculptress,” Rome, February 1866

The Revolution on Edmonia Lewis

Her Cleopatra

Rosa Bonheur (1822—1899): French Animal Artist

Her Early Years and Discovery of Art

Excerpts from Bonheur’s (Auto)biography

Mary Cassatt (1844—1926): American Impressionist

Mary Cassatt to Clarence Gihon, 13 September 1905

Mary Cassatt to Colonel Paine, 28 February 1915

Mary Cassatt to Louisine Havemeyer, 5 July 1915

Mary Cassatt to Bertha Palmer, 11 October 1892

Women at the Chicago World’s Fair, 1893

Women’s Congresses at Chicago World’s Fair, 1893

Suggested Readings

Chapter 9 Challenging Orthodoxy:Women and Religion in America

Women Founders and Leaders

Mother Ann Lee (1736—1784): Founder of the Shakers

Shaker Eunice Goodrich Shares a Recollection of Mother Ann Lee, 1816

Anna White (1831—1910): Shaker Eldress and Reformer

Shakerism. Its Meaning and Message (1904)

Phoebe Worrall Palmer (1807—1874): Holiness Leader

Promise of the Father (1859)

Ellen Gould Harmon White (1827—1915): Seventh-Day Adventist Founder and Prophetess

White’s Vision of the Sabbath

Mary Baker Edy (1821—1910): Founder, Church of Christ, Scientist

Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures

The Struggle for Autonomy, Authority, and Inclusion

Jarena Lee (1783—18?): African Methodist-Episcopal Visionary and Preacher

Religious Experiences of Jarena Lee

Women in the Black Baptist Church

Virginia Broughton (185?—190?): Black Baptist Leader

Twenty Years’ Experience of a Missionary (1907)

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon (1858—1942): Jewish Leader

Excerpts from Solomon’s Autobiography

“Women Ministers in Session,” Chicago World’s Fair, 21 May 1893

Feminist Critiques of Religion

Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793—1880): Quaker Minister, Abolitionist, and Feminist

“Sermon, Delivered at Cherry Street Meeting,” Philadelphia, 4 November 1849

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815—1902): Feminist

The Woman’s Bible (1895—98)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860—1935): Author, Feminist, and Social Critic

His Religion and Hers (1923)

Suggested Readings

Chapter 10 The New Woman and the Performing Arts

Pioneers of Modern Dance

Loïe Fuller (1862—1928)

Excerpts from Fuller’s Autobiography

Fuller Talks about Her Art in an Interview,March 1896

Fuller’s Activities after Her Dance Career Ends

Isadora Duncan (1878—1927)

Dance of the Future

Ruth St. Denis (1879—1968)

From Her Autobiography

“The Dance as Life Experience”

The New Woman in Theater

Elizabeth Robins (1862—1952): American Actress, Playwright, Novelist

The Convert (1907)

Edith Craig (1869—1947): British Suffragist and Theater Pioneer

Edy Craig, “Producing a Play”

Christopher St. John Laments Craig’s Lack of Recognition

A Pageant of Great Women

Cicely Hamilton on Edy and the Pageant of Great Women

Advertisement for Pageant of Great Women

A Pageant of Great Women

The Pioneer Players

Purpose of the Pioneer Players

Suggested Readings

Part III Women and Culture in the Twentieth Century

Chapter 11 New Directions in Literature and the Arts

Music

Ethel Smyth (1858—1944): British Composer, Author, and Suffragist

Smyth’s Reflections on Men,Women, and Music

American Musicians Organize

“Women Musicians Urge Equal Rights,” 1938

Literature

Virginia Woolf (1882—1941): English Writer and Feminist

Excerpts from A Room of One’s Own (1929)

Zora Neale Hurston (1891—1960): American Author and Folklorist

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

Visual Art

Käthe Kollwitz (1867—1945): German Graphic Artists

Excerpts from Kollwitz’s Diary and Letters

Frida Kahlo (1907—1954):Mexican Artist

To Art Historian, Antonio Rodríguez

Letter to Lucienne Bloch, 14 February 1938

Frida Speaking about Her Art

Frida as Remembered by Her Students

Excerpts from Her Diary

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887—1986): American Painter

Autobiographical Excerpts about Her Work from Exhibition Catalogs

Letter to Eleanor Roosevelt, 10 February 1944

Suggested Readings

Chapter 12 Mid-Century Cultural Ferment

Literature

Simone de Beauvoir (1908—1986): French Philosopher,Writer, and Feminist

The Second Sex (1949)

Visual Art

Margaret Bourke-White (1904—1971): American Photojournalist and Author

Gandhi and Non-Violence in a Nuclear World, 1948

Barbara Hepworth (1903—1975): British Sculptor

Excerpts from Hepworth’s Pictorial Autobiography, 1970

Dance

Martha Graham (1894—1991): American Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher

Graham’s Thoughts about the New Modern Dance, 1941

Excerpts from Graham’s Autobiography, 1991

Katherine Dunham (1909- ): American Dance Pioneer and Anthropologist

Dunham on Ethnology and Dance

An Interview with Dunham, 1938

A “Conversation with Katherine Dunham,” 1956

Maria Tallchief (1925- ): American Prima Ballerina

Excerpts from Tallchief ’s Autobiography, 1997

Suggested Readings

Chapter 13 Reclaiming Their Heritage:Women and Religion

Feminist The(a)ologies and Ethics

Rosemary Radford Ruether (1936-)

“Theological Reflections on Women-Church”

Ada María Isasi-Díaz (1943-)

Mujerista Biblical Interpretation from “La Palabra de Dios Nosotras- The Word of God in Us”

Carter Heyward (1946-)

Poem and Commentary from Touching Our Strength

Rita M. Gross

Excerpts from Buddhism after Patriarchy

Women-Centered Interpretive Frameworks for Reclaiming Women’s History in Religion

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (1938-)

Excerpts from “Changing the Paradigms”

Riffat Hassan

Excerpts from Interview with Riffat Hassan

Diverse Interpretative Frameworks for Portraying Contemporary Women’s Religious Traditions

Savitri L. Bess

Excerpts from The Path of the Mother

Susannah Heschel

Laura Geller, “Reactions to a Woman Rabbi”

Suggested Readings

Chapter 14 Feminism, Social Change, and Female Creativity

Art

Judy Chicago (1939-): Artist, Author, and Feminist

A Conversation with Judy Chicago, 1997—1998

National Museum of Women in the Arts,Washington, D.C.

A Conversation with Wilhelmina (Billie) Holladay, NMWA Founder, 2002

Music

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (1939-): Pulitzer Prize-winning Composer

Interview with Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, 2001

Peanuts Gallery

Challenging Gender Barriers in the Arts

Anna Lelkes and the Vienna Philharmonic: Interview with Harpist Lelkes, 1997

The Guerrilla Girls (1985-): Conscience of the Art World

“Guerrilla Girls Bare All”

Literature and Theater

Christiane Rochefort (1917—1998):Writer, Social Critic, and Feminist

“Are Women Writers Still Monsters?” (1975)

Women’s Experimental Theatre, New York (1976—1985)

The Daughters Cycle: Electra Speaks

Suggested Readings

Chapter 15 Contemporary Voices

Art

Maya Lin: (1959-): Sculptor, Architect, and Designer

Selections from Maya Lin’s Boundaries (2000)

Amalia Mesa-Bains: (1946-): Artist, Educator, and Activist

Venus Envy Ch. III: Cihuatlampa: The Place of the Giant Women (1997)

Dance and Film

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (1939-): Choreographer and Founder of Urban Bush Women

A Conversation with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, 1999

Deepa Mehta (1950-): Indian/Canadian Filmmaker

An Interview with Deepa Mehta, 1993

Literature

Sheila Ortiz Taylor (1939-): Poet and Novelist

Imaginary Parents. A Family Autobiography (1996)

Toni Morrison (1931-): Novelist and Nobel Prize Winner

Morrison’s “Nobel Prize Lecture,” 7 December 1993

Suggested Readings

Bibliography

Read More Show Less

Preface

Our goal in writing this two-volume work is to provide students and instructors with a more comprehensive understanding of the history of humankind than has previously been available to the non-specialist. As the title suggests, these volumes document the significant part women have played in the development of Western civilization, from the Upper Paleolithic era (we begin ca. 35,000 B.C.E.) to the present. We have brought together a varied collection of primary source materials including archeological artifacts, images, and texts that reveal women's participation in all aspects of human culture, religion, the visual and performing arts, literature, philosophy, and public affairs.

We deliberately chose our title, Creating Women, because, in addition to its obvious reference to creative women, it reflects another important dimension of Western civilization: The ways in which societal notions of gender (masculine/feminine) and gender roles have in essence "created" and/or "constructed" women. A significant consequence of this social construction is that women's experiences and opportunities have often differed in significant ways from those of men. Together, the documents tell much about Western notions of sex differences and how and why "the woman question" continues to be among the most persistent controversies in Western thought and discourse.

Creating Women, like many other new texts, evolved from the need for reading materials for a new course. In 1985, a team of Florida State University faculty and graduate students from history, dance, theater, music, English, classics, religion, humanities, and art history received a university grant to develop an introductory course for women's studies that would also fulfill part of the university's liberal studies requirements. Jean Gould Bryant, director of the women's studies program, led that project and Linda Bennett Elder was a member of the development team from its inception.

The decision to develop an interdisciplinary humanities course was prompted by several considerations. We wanted a course to complement an existing humanities sequence that introduced students to the traditional canon of cultural developments of Western civilization but made few references to women's contributions. We also sought to fill curriculum gaps in classics, music, art history, theater, and European history and to provide a catalyst for the creation of courses on women and gender across the arts and sciences. We hoped as well to create incentives for faculty to include information related to women's accomplishments and experiences within existing courses. The course, Women in Western Culture: Images and Realities, was a vital addition to our women's studies curriculum that had previously focused almost exclusively on the Western world since the seventeenth century, with heavy emphasis on contemporary American society.

In 1986, as now, there were a few discipline-specific texts and anthologies of secondary articles and primary source readings, but no interdisciplinary text or anthology concerning women existed and no anthology spanned the entire history of Western civilization. As we proceeded to refine Women in Western Culture, we recognized not only the need for an interdisciplinary reader, but also a unique situation for developing such a text. Since 1986, we have used a variety of readings, audio-visual resources, and lecture material in our respective courses on women in Western humanities. We have also explored different configurations of chronology and course themes suggested by the critiques, questions and responses of our students, and our mutual assessments. We discovered, for example, that although many contemporary feminist scholars ignore religion, religion is one of the most prevalent markers of women's participation in culture from prehistory through the medieval period, and it remained a critical factor through the nineteenth century. Over time we integrated the discrete multidisciplinary pieces of our examination of women into a coherent truly interdisciplinary course that highlighted major themes and patterns that emerged across disciplines and centuries.

The results have been exciting for us and for our students. We discovered that examining women's cultural achievements and struggles provides an innovative framework for discussing women's legal, socioeconomic, religious, and/or political status in different times and places. We found that the multidisciplinary approach ensures that each student will discover some individuals whose life/work matches her or his personal interests or career aspirations and may indeed discover new role models or cultural icons for inspiration. We also learned that bringing women and their voices to the forefront sometimes radically changed our understanding of certain periods of Western civilization and often introduced provocative new cultural forms, alternative visions of society and its institutions, and challenging critiques of values, ideas, and societal arrangements that many have regarded as "fixed" Western cultural traditions.

Creating Women is the product of an extended period of living with the material, adding to it and reconfiguring it in response to input from our students and colleagues. Both volumes integrate insights from an abundance of new scholarship that has enriched women's history in all fields over the last three decades. We believe that the interdisciplinary approach we have taken in these volumes and the expansive time-span that we have elected to cover will generate spirited discussion. Our approach will also add significantly to the reader's understanding of women and gender in Western civilization, thereby providing a more complete and realistic picture of the history of humankind.

CREATING WOMEN: STRUCTURE

Each volume consists of three parts with five chapters in each. Volume one encompasses women and culture from prehistory through the middle ages:

  • Part I: Women in Prehistory and the Ancient Near East
  • Part II: Women in the Mediterranean and Greco-Roman World
  • Part III: Women in the Roman Empire, Christian Origins, Late Antiquity, and the Middle Ages

Volume Two encompasses women and culture from the Renaissance to the present:

  • Part I: Women in Early Modern Europe
  • Part II: Women and Culture, 1750-1920
  • Part III: Women and Culture in the Twentieth Century

CREATING WOMEN: FEATURES

  • The narrative, biographical vignettes, and document introductions place women and their achievements within the broader social-political context in which they lived and worked.
  • Introductory narrative helps guide students' analysis of material and facilitates class discussion.
  • Maps, charts, and narrative link women and their achievements with more familiar events and personages in Western civilization and also illustrate significant clusters of female creativity.
  • Selected bibliographies facilitate student projects and enable instructors to enrich classes with audiovisual material.
Read More Show Less

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