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Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make Historyby Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Synopses & Reviews
“They didn’t ask to be remembered,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Laurel Ulrich wrote in 1976 about the pious women of colonial New England. And then she added a phrase that has since gained widespread currency: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Today those words appear almost everywhere—on T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, plaques, greeting cards, and more. But what do they really mean? In this engrossing volume, Laurel Ulrich goes far beyond the slogan she inadvertently created and explores what it means to make history.
Her volume ranges over centuries and cultures, from the fifteenth-century writer Christine de Pizan, who imagined a world in which women achieved power and influence, to the writings of nineteenth-century suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and twentieth-century novelist Virginia Woolf. Ulrich updates de Pizan’s Amazons with stories about women warriors from other times and places. She contrasts Woolf’s imagined story about Shakespeare’s sister with biographies of actual women who were Shakespeare’s contemporaries. She turns Stanton’s encounter with a runaway slave upside down, asking how the story would change if the slave rather than the white suffragist were at the center. She uses daybook illustrations to look at women who weren’t trying to make history, but did. Throughout, she shows how the feminist wave of the 1970s created a generation of historians who by challenging traditional accounts of both men’s and women’s histories stimulated more vibrant and better-documented accounts of the past.
Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History celebrates a renaissance in history inspired by amateurs, activists, and professional historians. It is a tribute to history and to those who make it.
From the Hardcover edition.
From admired historian--and coiner of one of feminism's most popular slogans--Laurel Thatcher Ulrich comes an exploration of what it means for women to makehistory.
In 1976, in an obscure scholarly article, Ulrich wrote, Well behaved women seldom make history. Today these words appear on t-shirts, mugs, bumperstickers, greeting cards, and all sorts of Web sites and blogs. Ulrich explains how that happened and what it means by looking back at women of the past who challenged the way history was written. Sheranges from the fifteenth-century writer Christine de Pizan, who wrote The Book of the City of Ladies, to the twentieth century's Virginia Woolf, author of A Room of One'sOwn. Ulrich updates their attempts to reimagine female possibilities and looks at the women who didn't try to make history but did. And she concludes by showing how the 1970s activists whocreated second-wave feminism also created a renaissance in the study of history.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
They didn't ask to be remembered, Pulitzer Prize-winning
About the Author
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich received her B.A. from the University of Utah, her M.A. from Simmons College, and her Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire. She was previously Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire and is currently Phillips Professor of Early American History and 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University. Her book A Midwife's Tale won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize, and the American Historical Society's John H. Dunning and Joan Kelly Memorial Prizes. Ulrich's discovery of Martha Ballard and work on the diary has been chronicled in a documentary film written and produced by Laurie Kahn-Leavitt with major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the "American Experience" television series. Ulrich is also the author of numerous articles and reviews and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and many other honors and awards.
Table of Contents
The slogan — Three writers — Amazons — Shakespeare's daughters — Slaves in the attic — A book of days — Waves — Afterword : making history.
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