HIST 126


Fall, 2017

Vivian Bruce CongerE-mail: .

Office: Muller 408Office Hours: T 4:00-5:30; F 11:30-1:00

Campus phone: 274-3572or by appointment


Course Description

It is designed to teach you to think critically, analytically, and contextually about the diverse experiences and social roles of women from settlement in the 17th century to the era of Reconstruction after the Civil War. As we build on our chronological framework, we will explore Native American women; regional variations in the formation of colonial society; the "proper place" of white women; women and politics, reform movements, religion, and sexuality; African-American women and slavery; women as pioneers; women and work. Through a combination of lectures, reading assignments, in-class discussion, class presentations, and historical films or documentaries, the course will emphasize the diversity and change among the various social classes and races that comprise our history. Readings will be based on both secondary and primary sources. Because I believe strongly in letting women tell their own stories, you will have many opportunities to “hear women’s voices” through letters, diaries, journals, and autobiographies. You will examine what various women say to you about their lives in specific historical contexts. We will work hard but we will have fun while we do so!

This course has been approved by IC’s Committee for College-Wide Requirements for meeting the qualifications of the Integrative Core Curriculum. Contingent you’re your successful completion of all course requirements and your uploading of required learning outcome artifacts onto Taskstream (indicated elsewhere on this syllabus), this class meets and satisfies the ICC HUMANITIES, DIVERSITY, and POWER AND JUSTICE DESIGNATIONS.


After this course, students will be able to:

  • To EXPLAIN how the differences between geographic regions, cultures, classes, races and gender at one time and over time affected women’s lives and gender roles.
  • To DESCRIBE the relationship between the unfolding of events and women’s roles in society.
  • To READ AND INTERPRET artifsecondary and primary documents—what they are saying and how and why the perspective of the author matters
  • To PLACE primary documents together to formulate a thesis/an argument about American women.
  • To FORMULATE a historical argument and be able to support that argument with information from secondary and primary sources—that is, TO LEARN HOW TO BE A HISTORIAN WHO DOES WOMEN’S AND GENDER HISTORY

Humanities Student Learning Outcomes

1. Understand and analyze human expression (such as language, texts, or images) through

the lens of the humanities.

The two primary source response papers will be an appropriate artifact.

2. Recognize and begin to appraise existing arguments and articulate arguments of your


Building on at least one of the two primary source response papers, the 4-page comparative analysis of two readings OR the mid-term exam will be an appropriate artifact.

3. Describe and interpret the values, beliefs, and behaviors of yourself and others in the

context of historical and/or contemporary cultural institutions.

The final reflection paper, as the ultimate expression of the work of the course, would be a natural choice for this artifact.

ICCDiversity Student Learning Outcomes

1. Articulate the ways in which systems of power impact the construction of individual and

group identity. Discuss how these identities and relationships, in turn, shape perception of

systemic power within social, economic, or historical contexts.

The mid-term exam will be an ideal artifact for this SLO.

2. Analyze how individuals, organizations, and institutions create, perpetuate, adapt to, or

challenge inequality.

The required comparative analysis would be ideal for this SLO.

3. Demonstrate how shifts in your personal understanding contribute to using diverse

perspectives in thinking and problemsolvingwithin a broad range of contexts.

The final reflection paper will be the artifact for this SLO.

Required Readings—the following books are available in the bookstore and most are on course reserve:

Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience. PLEASE NOTE: This is a book I created via the McGraw-Hill website and it can only be purchased at the IC bookstore. It covers the period of the class, 1607-1870. However, you can find the published book (which covers 1607-1980) used online, BUT MAKE SURE YOU GET THE 5TH EDITION!!! It DOES matter.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

Dublin, Thomas, ed., Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters, 1830-1860, 2nd edition

Burr, Virginia, ed., The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ellen Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889

Schlissel, Lillian, ed., Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey

There will be additional readings, but they will be posted on Sakai.

Course Goals:

  • To understand how the differences between geographic regions, cultures, classes, races and gender at one time and over time affected women’s lives and gender roles.
  • To understand the relationship between the unfolding of events and women’s roles in society.
  • To learn how to read and interpret secondary and primary documents—what they are saying and how and why the perspective of the author matters
  • To learn how to put primary documents together to formulate a thesis/an argument about American women.
  • To learn how to formulate a historical argument and be able to support that argument with information from secondary and primary sources—that is, TO LEARN HOW TO BE A HISTORIAN WHO DOES WOMEN’S AND GENDER HISTORY.


A / 4.0 / 92-100
A- / 3.7 / 90-91
B+ / 3.3 / 88-89
B / 3.0 / 81-87
B- / 2.7 / 79-80
C+ / 2.3 / 77-78
C / 2.0 / 69-76
C- / 137 / 67-68
D+ / 1.3 / 65-66
D / 1.0 / 55-64
D- / 0.7 / 50-54
F / 0.0 / <50

Course Requirements

In calculating your final grade, the assignments will be weighted as follows (more detailed explanations are below):

  • Attendance 5%
  • Participation 20%
  • A written analysis of one primary source document20%
  • One four-page comparative analysis (choice of two dates)25%
  • In-class Mid-term exam20%
  • Final short (5-7 page) reflection paper10%

CLASS ATTENDANCEis mandatory and part of your grade will be determined by absences. You will get THREE “free” absences (one week of classes). After that, you must have an official written excused absence for the absence to be considered legitimate (see below). I will deduct one letter grade for each day you are absent (that is, your grade starts with an A, then will drop to an A- for the first absence after the THREE free absences, then to a B+ for the next absence, and so on). DO NOT attempt to put me in the position of trying to decide which absences sound legitimate and which do not. Either save your absences for illness or plan your THREE days off wisely!!!

Of course, your discussion grade is inextricably linked to your attendance grade. If you aren’t here, you can’t earn discussion points!

This is Ithaca College’s official policy about visits to the Health Center:

The IC Health Center no longer routinely issues "blue notes" documenting students' visits. According to recent policy, “We believe that students have the same responsibility for understanding and meeting the attendance requirements of their faculty as do employees in the workplace. Neither faculty nor students should be misled into overvaluing a ‘doctor's note.’ When necessary we will continue to provide students with written documentation for severe, prolonged, or unusual illness that causes them to miss class, e.g. in uncommon circumstances like those that might require any of us to provide a medical note to our employer. We will ask that these visits be by appointment, as they would be in the community, and will seek permission to document pertinent medical details when required.”

This is Ithaca College’s Official Attendance policy:

Students at Ithaca College are expected to attend all classes, and they are responsible for work missed during any absence from class. At the beginning of each semester, instructors must provide the students in their courses with written guidelines regarding possible grading penalties for failure to attend class. Students should notify their instructors as soon as possible of any anticipated absences. Written documentation that indicates the reason for being absent may be required. These guidelines may vary from course to course but are subject to the following restrictions:

  • In accordance with New York State law, students who miss class due to their religious beliefs shall be excused from class or examinations on that day. The faculty member is responsible for providing the student with an equivalent opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirement that the student may have missed. It is suggested that students notify their course instructors at least one week before any anticipated absence so that proper arrangements may be made to make up any missed work or examination. Any such work is to be completed within a reasonable time frame, as determined by the faculty member.
  • Any student who misses class due to a verifiable family or individual health emergency or to a required appearance in a court of law shall be excused. The student or a family member/legal guardian may report the absence to the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life, which will notify the student's dean's office, as well as residential life if the student lives on campus. The dean's office will disseminate the information to the appropriate faculty. Follow-up by the student with his or her professors is imperative. Students may need to consider a leave of absence, medical leave of absence, selected course withdrawals, etc., if they have missed a significant portion of classwork.

A student may be excused for participation in College-authorized cocurricular and extracurricular activities if, in the instructor’s judgment, this does not impair the specific student’s or the other students’ ability to succeed in the course.

For all absences except those due to religious beliefs, the course instructor has the right to determine if the number of absences has been excessive in view of the nature of the class that was missed and the stated attendance policy. Depending on the individual situation, this can result in the student’s being removed from or failing the course.

CLASS PARTICIPATION: all reading assignments will be discussed on the day they are listed on the syllabus. Class participation means not simply showing up for class discussions, rather it means actively participating in those discussions. Your grade will be calculated accordingly. In-class activities will revolve around discussion because as you share your ideas with others and as those ideas get challenged and refined, your analytical and verbal skills improve. I will mix up the structure of those discussions; sometimes they will be among the whole class, sometimes they will be among medium-sized groups, and sometimes they will be among two or three students. These in-depth discussions will facilitate an interactive (and hopefully intense) learning experience to which each of you contributes. There will be controversial topics this semester so the discussions should be lively and perhaps even contentious (which in itself will be a great lesson in how to deal with and learn from perspectives that you might disagree with—you should learn to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable).

If you attend all classes but do not participate in class discussions, you can NOT earn an “A” for this part of the course. I watch and take notes—especially when you are in groups so do not think this is a time to let someone else do the work. If you feel that you are too shy to talk in class, please let me know so we can work out an alternative (i.e., keeping a discussion journal).

Please note: I expect you to be taking copious notes during every class discussion. Not only is that what is expected of you a learner, but believe me, you will thank me when it comes to exam and final reflection paper time.

PRIMARY SOURCE ANALYSISdue October 6 NO LATER THAN 5:00 PM: This 2-3 page paper is to be YOUR analysis of the Trial of Anne Hutchinson OR Elizabeth Hanson’s “God’s Mercy Surmounting Man’s Cruelty.” Remember that this is a short analysis, so the best tactic would be to take one part of the document, or one issue to explore. What did you learn about gender roles? About race? About power relations? About justice?

COMPARATIVE ESSAY ASSIGNMENT: At one point during this semester, you are to write a comparative analysis (NOT just a summary) of the readings required for this class. Your paper should address the primary sources and films/film selectionswe have discussed in the context of Woloch’s Women and the American Experience.

This paper is worth 25 percent of the final grade.You have two essay options and you may choose the paper you want to write. This is a formal writing assignment; you should avoid informal language, contractions, the second person, prepositions at the end of sentences, and other grammatical and stylistic transgressions.

Take apositionin these papers and be sure to support it with textual evidence both in the form of paraphrased information and direct citations (although these should be used sparingly). Include page numbers forbothparaphrased and direct evidence.You may use parenthetical citations instead of standard documentation.

The essays are due on the dates noted on the schedule of readings and below.

  • Assignment 1:Women’s agency – due October 26

In this essay, compare and contrast the extent to which the women we have examined thus far exhibited individual (or perhaps group) agency. Based on these readings, do you think women were more limited in their agency than were men? Why or why not? What/who granted them that agency or what limited that agency? How does chronology determine women’s agency?

  • Assignment 2:Women’s resistance – due November 28

In this essay, compare and contrast types of resistance women employed. What exactly determined what they resisted and how they resisted? Did women appeal to broader concepts of liberty, equality, human rights—or were their appeals more focused on specific issues? Why and to what end? And what about the chronology of resistance? Did it change over time? Why or why not? If women didn’t resist, why didn’t they?


"In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with Student Disability Services and provide appropriate documentation to Ithaca College before any academic adjustment will be provided."

NOW THE PICKY RULES. They are designed to create an intellectual atmosphere in which there are no distractions or disruptions for the 50 minutes that I consider “mine.” JUST A WORD OF WARNING, I AM VERY SERIOUS ABOUT THEM.

I DO NOT GIVE EXTENSIONS, I DO NOT ACCEPT LATE ASSIGNMENTS—so read the syllabus carefully and plan your semester accordingly.

You can NOT have a cell phone turned on during class—not even on vibrate mode. You can NOT have your cell phone out and on the desk—that is, you can NOT use it to check the time or to check or send text messages. If I catch you using your phone during class, I will ask you to leave the room and I will not give you credit for attending class that day.

Do not walk in and out of class at your leisure. It is rude and disruptive--not only to me but especially to your fellow students. If you do, I will deduct one point from your total attendance points for each time you do.

If you leave 10 minutes early or arrive more than 5 minutes late, I will NOT credit you with attending class. In addition, if you walk in after I have begun to take roll, it is your responsibility to make sure I have marked your attendance.

Office of Student Disabilities Statement:

"In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodations will be provided to qualified students with documented disabilities. Students seeking accommodations must register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and provide appropriate documentation to SAS before any accommodations can be provided. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive so timely contact with Student Accessibility Services is encouraged." Students registered with Student Accessibility Services must with me during office hours to discuss their accommodation plan.

CAPS Statement:

Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance.