The Female Experience: An American Documentary

Overview


While women's experience encompasses all that is human, while women have participated in history and the making of history through all time, until very recently they have been largely excluded from the writing of that history. Most of what we know of the past experience of women comes to us largely through the distorting lens of men's reflections and observations.
In the now classic The Female Experience, Gerda Lerner describes history as seen by women, as colored by their ...
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Overview


While women's experience encompasses all that is human, while women have participated in history and the making of history through all time, until very recently they have been largely excluded from the writing of that history. Most of what we know of the past experience of women comes to us largely through the distorting lens of men's reflections and observations.
In the now classic The Female Experience, Gerda Lerner describes history as seen by women, as colored by their values. What she creates is fascinating narrative of the lives and history of ordinary women, a book that provides a new framework for the study of their past experience. If women's history is now a healthy and ever-growing discipline, we have in a large part this award-winning author to thank.
Avoiding the traditional chronological periods by which U.S. history is most often studied, Lerner groups her sources--many taken from manuscripts previously unknown, and others only available in research libraries--according to the lifecycle of women, their roles in a male-defined society, in the workplace, in politics, and finally in the contemporary world where feminism is creating an altogether new consciousness. From "runaway wives" in eighteenth-century America, through an anonymous account of a mother's death during childbirth, to appeals in our century for freedom of sexual preference, The Female Experience recounts history from the woman's point of view, and goes a long way toward reconstructing a female past and analyzing it with appropriate concepts. In the general introduction and chapter essays Lerner offers commentary that not only knits these disparate primary sources together, but also interprets them in an innovative way.
Now brought up to date with a new preface, The Female Experience is a book that pulses with life, a stunning testament not only to the long-ignored role of women in society, but a pioneering effort to reinvent the way we look at history.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This has been the basic and most extensive book of documents for U.S. women's history over the past two decades. I have enjoyed using it since it was first published. No other collection compares, and it is good to have a new issue of it."--Sally M. Miller, University of the Pacific

"This book is wonderfully organized and the documents give a comprehensive view of women's lives. The introductory pages before each section and each author are very helpful."--Sarah L. Payne, Community College of Vermont

"An old friend comes for a visit and I'm so happy!"--Mary Bricker-Jenkins, Western Kentucky Univ.

"This book is versatile, not only for courses within the discipline of history, but across disciplines. Gerda's thematization of the need for a paradigm shift in our understanding of history, in order to account for the history of women, raises questions as to the nature of historical reality that are on the cutting edge of historiography and, more generally, the contemporary intellectual movement of semiotics."--Dr. Brooke Williams, Univ. of Dubuque

"[Lerner's] introduction, and the analytic essays preceding each section, are essential reading for those who want to grasp the shifts in perspective created by a woman-centered historiography."--Adrienne Rich

"Certainly among the best books of documents in women's history."--Choice

"As engrossing for the laywoman as for the scholar."--Library Journal

"Makes accessible documents and source material previously unavailable to scholars of women's history....What this remarkable collection does it stake a firm claim to the importance of the long-ignored female experience."--American Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195072587
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1991
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerda Lerner, Robinson-Edwards Professor of History and Senior Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is author of many books including Black Women in White America and The Creation of Patriarchy (Oxford, 1986). She received the AAUW Achievement Award for 1986 and is a past president of the Organization of American Historians.

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