Gentlemen and Amazons: The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory, 1861-1900

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Gentlemen and Amazons traces the nineteenth-century genesis and development of an important contemporary myth about human origins: that of an original prehistoric matriarchy. Cynthia Eller explores the intellectual history of the myth, which arose from male scholars who mostly wanted to vindicate the patriarchal family model as a higher stage of human development. Eller tells the stories these men told, analyzes the gendered assumptions they made, and provides the necessary context for understanding how feminists of the 1970s and 1980s embraced as historical "fact" a discredited nineteenth-century idea.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Eller eloquently outlines what she believes is the myth of matriarchal prehistory. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"Gentlemen and Amazons is a compelling, complex . . . and formidably researched historical study."--Feminist Collections


“Eller eloquently outlines what she believes is the myth of matriarchal prehistory. . . . Highly recommended.”
Feminist Collections - Mary Farrell Bednarowski

Gentlemen and Amazons is a compelling, complex . . . and formidably researched historical study.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520248595
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Cynthia Eller is Professor of Women's Studies and Religious Studies at Montclair State University. She is the author of The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an
Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future; Am I a Woman? A Skeptic's Guide to Gender
; and Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations Acknowledgments

1. The Travels and Travails of Matriarchal Myth
2. Amazons Everywhere: Matriarchal Myth before Bachofen
3. On the Launching Pad: J. J. Bachofen and Das Mutterrecht
4. The Matriarchal Explosion: Anthropology Finds Mother Right (and Itself)
5. Making Matriarchal Myth Work: Communists and Feminists Discover the Mother Age
6. Mother Right on the Continent
7. Struggling to Stay Alive: Anthropology and Matriarchal Myth
8. Matriarchal Myth in the Late Nineteenth Century: Why Then? Why Not Before?

Notes Bibliography

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