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Political Economy of Women

Kimberly Christensen
Sarah Lawrence College, 2017
Level: beginner
Perspective: Feminist Economics
Topic: Race & Gender
Format: Syllabus

This syllabus was originally taught in Fall 2017
Instructor: Kimberly Christensen

Course Description:

What determines the status of women in different communities? What role is played by women’s labor (inside and outside of the home)? By cultural norms regarding sexuality and reproduction? By racial/ethnic identity? By religious traditions? After some brief theoretical grounding, this course will address these questions by examining the economic, political, social, and cultural histories of women in the various racial/ethnic groups that make up the US today.

Schedule of  Topics and Assignments:

I. Introduction; Conceptual framework for the course

II.A. Gender and Economics in the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederation

II.B. Gender and Sexuality in the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederation

III. White women in the colonial U.S. political economy

IV. African American women under slavery in the U.S. South

V. White women in the transition to capitalism in New England: Salem witchcraft trials

VII. Black and white women in the abolitionist movement; The birth of the US women's movement

VIII. Mexican American/Chicana women in the Southwest

IX. Women’s labor and anti-poverty activists

X. The U.S. economy in the late 1800s/early 1900s: The impact on women's economic roles

XI. Women in the Great Depression

XII. Women in the Great Depression vs. The Great Recession

XIII. World War II: Impact on women's economic and social roles

XIV. Feminism at mid-century

XV. The LGBT Movement from mid-century

XVI.A. Chinese American Women

XVI.B. Women from the Indian Sub-Continent

XVI.C. Women from Predominantly Muslim Countries

XVII. Puerto Rican women on the island and the mainland

XVIII. The Growth of the 20th c. Women's Movement(s)

XIX. Global feminism

Required Texts: 

  •  Amott, Teresa and Julie Mattheai, Race, Gender, and Work: A Multi-Cultural Economic History of Women in the U.S., 2nd ed., South End Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0896085374.
  • Ruiz, Vicki, Unequal Sisters: An Inclusive Reader in US Women’s History, 4th ed., Routledge, 2007, ISBN 978-0415958417.
  • Kessler-Harris, Alice, Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the US, Oxford Univ. Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0195157093.
  • Davis, Angela, Women, Race, and Class, 1983, Vintage. ISBN 978-0394713519.
  • Evans, Sara, Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left, 1980, Vintage, ISBN 978-0394742281.
  • Hochschild, Arlie, The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home, Penguin, 2012. ISBN 978-0143120339.
  • Cobble, Dorothy Sue, The Other Women’s Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America, Princeton Univ. Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0691123684.
  • Eisenstein, Hester, Feminism Seduced, How Global Elites Use Women’s Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World, Paradigm Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1594516603.

Recommended Texts:

  • Stansell, Christine, The Feminist Promise: 1792 to the Present, Modern Library, 2011. ISBN 978-0812972023.
  • Rosen, Ruth, The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America, Penguin, 2006, ISBN 978-0140097191.
  • Lewis, Reina, and Sara Mills, Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader, Routledge, 1999.
  • McCann, Carole, and Seung-Kyung Kim, Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives, 3rd. ed., Routledge, 2013. ISBN 978-0415521024.
  • Allen, Robert, Reluctant Reformers: Racism & Social Reform Movements in the US, Anchor Books, 1975.
  • Ehrenreich, Barbara & Arlie Hochschild, Global Women: Nannies, Maids & Sex Workers in the New Economy, Holt, 2004. ISBN 978-0805075090.
  • Karlsen, Carol, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England, W.W.Norton, 1998. ISBN 978- 0393317596.


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Comment from our editors:

This syllabus is part of the Syllabi collection on International Association for Feminist Economics. This course is suitable for undergraduate students.


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