Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 17:52:14 -0500 From: Christine Erickson <>

Here's the summer reading list. Thanks to everyone who responded, epsecially to those who provided a brief summary of the book(s)!

Christine Erickson

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. One of the big mysteries of middle-class American culture is why almost all educated women resent this book as adults, and yet were almost all drawn to it if we read it as children. My take: this book has a powerful moral structure about women's place and the role of God and family, which is just as powerfully undercut and complicated by the irrepressible real-ness of Jo. This book seems quite simple, in other words, but I don't think it is, at all. Might be very fun to read this along w/ one of Alcott's working-girl novels (there's one, I think called Working Times, that was only recently identified as being Alcott's)

Allison, Dorothy. Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature (1994). Along the same lines as A Restricted Country, Allison comes from a southern rural background, so the comparative perspectives are very enlightening.

Alvarez, Julia. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. Many issues of interest: differences in power relations, education and labor for women and men in Latin America, and the impact of migration and acculturation. Well written and enormously entertaining.

Aman, as told to Virginia Lee Barnes and Janice Boddy. Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl. Vintage Books, 1994. This is a powerful book, I couldn't put it down when I first read it, and my students have found it fascinating. The most interesting comments came from an African-American student who was overwhelmed by how different African attitudes are from American. The book shows a woman who accepts/respects tradition even as she lives in a time of great transition.

Blackman, Margaret B. During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, A Haida Woman (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1985) (semi-autobiographical. Blackman an anthropologist)

Blum, Closing of the American Mind

Brand, Johanna. The Life and Death of Anna Mae Aquash Toronto: James Lorimer & Company Publishers, 1993)

Brown, Rita Mae. Rubyfruit Jungle

Butler, Octavia. futuristic sci-fi. Imagines women as powerful heroines. To any list of readings, I'd add a plug for her stuff (warning: can contain a lot of violence. I think she deals with it well, but it's still rough in places, which a lot of women or feminist readers of sci fi try to avoid)

Byatt, A S. Possession. Not an 'easy' read for many students; pretty academic. If that kind of writing jibes, though, this book is both an exciting mystery, a complicated love story, a play on narrative, a gentle send-up of academic culture (incl women's studies),and an extended meditation on authorship and creativity. Much in it about men, women, in insightful ways. Based in Britain but Americans have a large role, too. I found it both hilarious and profound. Don't know if I would have liked it as much at 20, but hey--worth a shot.

Campbell, Maria. Halfbreed (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1973)

Cather, Willa. My Antonia. : Wonderful treatment of growing up male in turn of century rural Nebraska, written by a preeminent American woman writer. Interesting on gender but also just a great book to get students to read. (great writing, but not too long and not too daunting)

Cather, Willa. The Professor's House (1925)

Conway, Jill Ker. The Road from Coorain (1989) and True North (1994) These are both fascinating. The first deals with her life in Australia and the second one picks up with her attending Harvard, going on to teach in Canada, being a pioneer in teaching women's history, and then becoming president of Smith College. Both are great.

Cook, Blanche Weisen. Eleanor Roosevelt vol 1: 1884-1933 (1992)

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. More Work for Mother: The Promises of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave

Culleton, Beatrice. In Search of April Raintree (Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1992)

Douglas, Susan. Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media

Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie (1907, 1917)

DuBois, Ellen and Vicki L. Ruiz, eds. Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in US Women's History 2nd ed. (1994)

Echols, Alice. Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975 (1989)

French, Alice. My Name is Masak (the life history of an Inuit woman in the Northwest Territories) (Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1992)

French, Marilyn. The Women's Room (1977, 1993 with intro by author and afterward by Susan Faludi)

Griffith, Elisabeth. In Her Own Right: the Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1984)

Hannah Senesh: Her Life & Diary. (a pre-WWII Jewish Hungarian Freedom Fighter)

Heilbron, Carolyn. the Kate Fansler mysteries

Heilbron, Carolyn. Writing a Woman's Life. a short book about writing about (and living!) women's lives. by a major literary theorist who also writes feminist detective novel fiction. (the Kate Fansler mysteries: marvelous if you're an academic but maybe a little to in-jokey if you're not.

Hine, Darlene Clark, ed. A Reader in Black Women's History (1995)

Hine, Darlene Clark, ed. Black Women in American History from Colonial Times through the Nineteenth Century (1990)

Hine, Darlene Clark, ed. Black Women in American History: the Twentieth Century, (1990)

Jacobs, Harriet A. (ed. Jean F. Yellin) Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Kayson, Susana. Girl, Interrupted. Difficult, but also incredibly funny, in a dark way. Very well written.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. Woman Warrior

Koonz, Claudia. Mothers in the Fatherland : women's roles/actions in Nazi Germany.

Lebsock, Susan. The Free Women of Petersburg

LeGuin, Ursula K. Left Hand of Darkness.

Liebow, Elliot. Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women (1993)

Lystra, Karen. Searching the Heart

Mary John, with Bridget Moran, Stoney Creek Woman: Sai'k'uz Ts'eke the Story of Mary John (Vancouver: Tillicum Library, 1988) (semi-autobiographical, Moran a journalist)

May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (1988)

Menchu, Rigoberta. I, Rigoberta Menchu_ : Menchu recently won the Nobel Peace Prize (I think) and hers is a powerful story of class, war, family, and personal struggle in Guatemala.

Miller, Jay, ed. Mourning Dove: A Salishan Autobiography, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990)

Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. Incredibly powerful and complex narrative. Also a brillant and insightful, if difficult, story of black women in slavery and just after.

Nestle, Joan. A Restricted Country : a collection of autobiographical essays that illuminate US women's history in the mid-century through her perspectives as a woman from the urban working class, Jewish, lesbian, progressive, and political activist. This is a very rich yet succint volume which raises a lot of issues about education, ethnicity and racism, patriarchy and women's work, sexuality and empowerment.

Odem, Mary. Delinquent Daughters re: progressive era.

Owings, Alison. Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Riech (1993)

Painter, Nell Irvin. Sojourner Truth.

Piercy, Marge. Gone to Soldiers. Piercy's known for her sci fi type stuff---which I think is great---but this novel is quite different. It's based on truly massive historical reseach; she follows 6 or 8 protagonists---men and women, Jews and Christians, mostly Americans but also a couple of Europeans---through World War II. It's an amazingly constructed and very compelling book; a great read which is informative but also sparks the imagination. It's thick, but tell students they'll probably be happy to read it at the beach, too!

Piess, Kathy. Cheap Amusements

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

Shirley Sterling, My Name is Seepeetza (Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1992)

Solinger, Rickie. The Abortionist. Uses the interesting story of one woman to explore the sigificance of the 1950s to attitudes toward and availability of abortions.

Stegner, Wallace. Angle of Repose. Like the Piercy and Cather novels, richly historical and also richly observed. Wonderful writing. Deals largely with the long and complex life of the narrator's grandmother, an East Coast aspiring intellectual who came West in the late 19th c with her engineer husband. The story revolves around the tensions, sacrifices, complexities and commitment of the relationship b/w grandmother and grandfather, as each struggles to define and hold on to their work and their family. Some of the most interestingly passionate arguments I've been a party to have revolved around whether Stegner's deeply sympathetic to his female protagonists or deeply misogynistic. His characters are difficult people, but given life and vibrancy; and the way in which his narrative alternates between a present history writer and his past grandparents also has a lot to say about narrative and how we choose to tell stories.

Tavris, Carol. Mismeasure of Woman (1992)

Taylor, Susie King. A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs

The Schomburg library of 19th-c black women writers.

Trevor, William. Felicia's Journey. Irish runaway's experiences in England

Twain, Mark. Tom Sawyer. If they haven't already read it, this is an important book in American history and letters, and also a compelling take on boyhood.

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A Midwife's Tale (1990)

V.I. Warsharky detective series

Ware, Susan. Still Missing. Biography of Amelia Earhart in which Ware ties Earhart's life to the rise of individualist feminism in the 1920s and 1930s. Easy but compelling reading.

Williams, Patricia J. The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor

Yezierska, Anzia. Bread givers. Novel, struggle between a father of the Old World and a daughter of the New. (1925, 1971)

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