Feminism in Action: Building Institutions and Community through Women's Studies

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Feminism in Action is Jean O'Barr's firsthand account of two decades spent working to promote the cause of higher education for women through the establishment of women's studies programs. The book brings together revised versions of O'Barr's most significant presentations on the subject, from a 1976 talk to incoming Duke University students, through original essays that document the process of institutional change, to a 1993 lecture on the impact of race on discussions of gender. Striking the perfect balance ...
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Overview

Feminism in Action is Jean O'Barr's firsthand account of two decades spent working to promote the cause of higher education for women through the establishment of women's studies programs. The book brings together revised versions of O'Barr's most significant presentations on the subject, from a 1976 talk to incoming Duke University students, through original essays that document the process of institutional change, to a 1993 lecture on the impact of race on discussions of gender. Striking the perfect balance between a theoretical sense of what feminism proposes and a practical sense of what is politically feasible, these essays pose--and help to answer--basic questions about the role of women's studies programs in the academy. Exactly what kinds of changes do such programs instigate? How do they work, institutionally? What accounts for their extraordinary success in supporting higher education for all women, from recent high school graduates to older returning students? Written in a lively, anecdotal style and supplemented by personal testimonies from students and colleagues, the essays provide not only a valuable history of the field of women's studies but a concrete blueprint for current and future programs. from the book From a student point of view, the way in which women and gender are presented and discussed appears as important as their mere mention as topics, if not more so. Such student observations suggest that individual faculty members function as 'gatekeepers' of knowledge to a much greater degree than disciplines or departments do. . . . Students require active preparation and encouragement if they are to be able to transfer information learned in the context of a women's studies class into other courses.
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Editorial Reviews

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The book's value lies as much in its autobiographical as in its didactic elements.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807844397
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/29/1994
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 316
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Fox O'Barr is the founding director of women's studies at Duke University, holding the Margaret Taylor Smith Directorship, the first endowed Directorship in the US. She is now a Distinguished University Service Professor. Her books include Engaging Feminism: Students Speak Up and Speak Out.
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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction: On Parlors and Portraits 1
1 Lifelong Learning: The Duke Experience 25
2 Reentry Women in the Academy: The Contributions of a Feminist Perspective 35
3 Women and the Politics of Knowledge 46
4 What Does It Mean to Be an Educated Person?: Voices from the Duke Experience 59
5 Why Do We Need Women's Studies?: Questions from Students in the 1980s 77
6 The Necessity of Women's Studies in a Liberal Arts Education 85
7 How the Inquiry into Women's Studies Grew 94
8 Understanding Women's Diversities and Commonalities 104
9 "Just an Experiment for My Women's Studies Class": Female Students and the Culture of Gender 119
10 Assessing Curriculum Transformation through Student Observations 133
11 Finding a Voice, Taking a Position: Documenting Learning in Women's Studies 153
12 Getting into the Conversation: Feminist Thought and the Transformation of Knowledge 178
13 What Is It Like to Edit Signs? 200
14 Educating beyond the Walls: The Politics of Influence and Fundraising for Women's Studies 219
15 Things You Can Never Prove in Court, Things the Human Psyche Never Misses 239
16 Rethinking Teaching and Learning: The "We-They" Dichotomy 263
17 Women's Studies as a Discipline 277
Notes 285
Index 295
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