3:00 - 5:00 p.m., with co-editor Elisabeth Israels Perry, and commentators Phyllis Palmer, Chair, Professor of American Civilization and of Women's Studies, George Washington University, and Kriste Lindenmeyer, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
Olive San Louie Anderson was one of the first women allowed to enroll at the University of Michigan in the early 1870s. Published in 1878, her autobiographical novel provides a vivid portrait of university life at a time when many people considered coeducation to be a dangerous experiment and a leading Harvard Medical School professor warned that higher education of any kind would interfere with women’s reproductive functions.
By depicting what student life was like for young women at a coed college in the early 1870s, An American Girl illustrates the challenges faced by “new women” when they tried to lead unconventional lives during the Victorian era. It shows the conflicts women endured in a coeducational environment and describes contemporary views of the women’s rights movement and of liberal religion. One question, of course, is whether and how life for coeds has altered in the intervening years.
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