Writing Against the Wind: A Mother's Life History

Writing Against the Wind: A Mother's Life History

by Caroline B. Brettell
     
 

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This biography of Canadian journalist Zoe Bieler explores many of the historical and social issues that have confronted women in the twentieth century. Written by Bieler's daughter, anthropologist Caroline Brettell, Writing Against the Wind uses Bieler's life as a timeline, tracing the triumphs and frustrations women have experienced in the last eighty years.

Overview

This biography of Canadian journalist Zoe Bieler explores many of the historical and social issues that have confronted women in the twentieth century. Written by Bieler's daughter, anthropologist Caroline Brettell, Writing Against the Wind uses Bieler's life as a timeline, tracing the triumphs and frustrations women have experienced in the last eighty years. Several themes that are important to the field of women's studies are examined: genres of female writing, women's biogra-phy and autobiography, the historical circumstances that shape career opportunities for women, the nature of mother-daughter relationships, the problems of working mothers, the idea of women mentoring women, the emergence of feminism and women's issues in both academia and the popular press, and the changing roles of women in journalism. Drawing from her mother's life experiences as well as her journalistic and personal writings (an appendix featuring some of Bieler's writings is included), Brettell reveals how women have struggled with balancing a job and raising a family and, at the same time, enduring the stigma attached to women working outside the home. Thoroughly engaging, this book is ideal for courses in women's studies, women's history, biography/autobiography, women's writing, and women in journalism.

Editorial Reviews

Linda Wagner-Martin
Caroline Brettell has written a vivid evocation of journalist Zoe Bieler's life. Her admiration for her subject as professional role model as well as mother is clear—but never sentimentalized. In the best academic traditions, the book is well grounded buy very readable.
Deborah Reed-Danahay
This is a compelling portrait of a mid-twentieth century working mother's life, lovingly told by her daughter. Brettell brings her considerable skills as a cultural anthropologist to the story of her late mother. Drawing upon diaries, letters, oral histories, her own recollections, and her mother's journalistic writings, Brettell intelligently creates an ethnographic biography that conveys both the life story of Zoe and the world in which she lived. A significant contribution to the study of women's lives—no less because it portrays a supportive and loving mother-daughter relationship—this book will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.
Ruth Behar
Caroline Brettell offers the ultimate daughter's gift: becoming an author so that her mother will continue to live through her. Her book will inspire other daughters, as it inspired me, not to dawdle in their own quests to learn how their mothers made history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780842027830
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/1999
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
193
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 8.46(h) x 0.43(d)

What People are saying about this

Deborah Reed-Danahay
A compelling portrait of a mid-twentieth century working mother's life, lovingly told by her daughter. Brettell brings her considerable skills as a cultural anthropologist to the story of her late mother, a Canadian journalist. A significant contribution to the study of women's lives, no less because it portrays a supportive and loving mother-daughter relationship, this book will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. (Deborah Reed-Danahay, University of Texas, Arlington)
Linda Wagner-Martin
A vivid evocation of journalist Bieler's life. Brettell's admiration for her subject as professional model as well as mother is clear-but never sentimentalized. The book is well-grounded but very readable. (Linda Wagner-Martin, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Ruth Behar
It is not often that an anthropologist sets out the life history of her own mother. Caroline Brettell has done just that, revealing how her mother, the Canadian journalist Zoe Bieler, kept her pen in hand throughout the course of the major social transformations of our receding century. The result is a book that blurs the lines between biography, anthropology, and social history, and contributes to them all. But perhaps most important, Caroline Bretell offers the ultimate daughter's gift: becoming an author so that her mother will continue to live through her. Her book will inspire other daughters, as it inspired me, not to dawdle in their own quest to learn how their mothers made history.
—(Ruth Behar, University of Michigan, author of The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology that Breaks Your Heart)

Meet the Author

Caroline B. Brettell is professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University.

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