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Mysteries of sex : tracing women and men through American history /
by Mary P. Ryan.
imprint
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2006.
description
432 p. : ill.
ISBN
0807830623 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780807830628 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2006.
isbn
0807830623 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780807830628 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
6025553
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
In a sweeping synthesis of American history, Mary Ryan demonstrates how the meaning of male and female has evolved, changed, and varied over a span of 500 years and across major social and ethnic boundaries. She traces how, at select moments of history, perceptions of sex difference were translated into complex and mutable patterns for differentiating women and men. How those distinctions were drawn and redrawn affected the course of American history more generally. Ryan's bold analysis raises the possibility that perhaps, if understood in their variety and mutability, the differences of sex might lose the sting of inequality.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2007-10-01:
Ryan's new book takes an unusual approach to history. Instead of following a strictly chronological methodology, it employs broad themes to highlight particular aspects of US women's experiences from pre-Columbian Native American societies to the present. The author's interest is in how gender norms are created and maintained in an ever-shifting sociopolitical landscape. In search of enlightenment, she poses and answers questions about broad issues such as the creation of domesticity in the 19th century, the evolution of modern politics, and the status of women workers. The advantages of this technique are considerable. Ryan (Johns Hopkins Univ.) can explore the interactions between sex, race, class, and ethnicity seamlessly without dividing her chapters into subsections and creating the impression that these aspects of women's identity are somehow discrete. It lifts her book from a conventional rehashing of well-known facts to an original interpretation of the complexities of gender in private and public life. The only real disadvantage is accessibility. Readers unfamiliar with the narrative of women's history in the US are unlikely to glean it from this work. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. A. Standish University of Maryland University College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A lively gallop through the history of women and gender in America from the Native Americans to the twenty-first century. . . . An excellent synthesis of massive amounts of material." _ Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"A lively gallop through the history of women and gender in America from the Native Americans to the twenty-first century. . . . An excellent synthesis of massive amounts of material." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"A lively gallop through the history of women and gender in America from the Native Americans to the twenty-first century. . . . An excellent synthesis of massive amounts of material." --Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"Offers a rich and comprehensive history of gender in the United States from the sixteenth century to the present. . . . Presents readers with a most generous abundance of information, ideas, and inquiries." _ American Historical Review
"Offers a rich and comprehensive history of gender in the United States from the sixteenth century to the present. . . . Presents readers with a most generous abundance of information, ideas, and inquiries." -- American Historical Review
"Offers a rich and comprehensive history of gender in the United States from the sixteenth century to the present. . . . Presents readers with a most generous abundance of information, ideas, and inquiries." --American Historical Review
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 2007
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In a sweeping synthesis of American history, Mary Ryan demonstrates how the meaning of male and female has evolved, changed, and varied over a span of 500 years and across major social and ethnic boundaries. She traces how, at select moments in history, perceptions of sex difference were translated into complex and mutable patterns for differentiating women and men. How those distinctions were drawn and redrawn affected the course of American history more generally.Ryan recounts the construction of a modern gender regime that sharply divided male from female and created modes of exclusion and inequity. The divide between male and female blurred in the twentieth century, as women entered the public domain, massed in the labor force, and revolutionized private life. This transformation in gender history serves as a backdrop for seven chronological chapters, each of which presents a different problem in American history as a quandary of sex. Ryan's bold analysis raises the possibility that perhaps, if understood in their variety and mutability, the differences of sex might lose the sting of inequality.
Main Description
In a sweeping synthesis of American history, Mary Ryan demonstrates how the meaning of male and female has evolved, changed, and varied over a span of 500 years and across major social and ethnic boundaries. She traces how, at select moments in history, perceptions of sex difference were translated into complex and mutable patterns for differentiating women and men. How those distinctions were drawn and redrawn affected the course of American history more generally. Ryan recounts the construction of a modern gender regime that sharply divided male from female and created modes of exclusion and inequity. The divide between male and female blurred in the twentieth century, as women entered the public domain, massed in the labor force, and revolutionized private life. This transformation in gender history serves as a backdrop for seven chronological chapters, each of which presents a different problem in American history as a quandary of sex. Ryan's bold analysis raises the possibility that perhaps, if understood in their variety and mutability, the differences of sex might lose the sting of inequality.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
Making Sex in America: 1500-1900
Where Have the Corn Mothers Gone?: Americans Encounter the Europeansp. 21
The Coordinates of Gender: Asymmetry, the Relations of the Sexes, and Hierarchyp. 25
The Sexual Frontierp. 42
Warriors and Farmers on the Gender Frontierp. 49
Who Baked That Apple Pie and When?: How Domesticity Conquered American Culturep. 61
The Prehistory of Feminine Domesticity: 1620-1692p. 64
Between Patriarchy and Domesticity: 1750-1840p. 80
Homemaking in Antebellum and Victorian Americap. 88
How Did Race Get Colored?: Gender and Sexuality in the American Southp. 103
How Slavery Became Colored African Americanp. 105
The Gendering of Slave Societyp. 116
Civil War and the Reconstruction of Race and Genderp. 124
The Sexual Politics of Jim Crowp. 137
Dividing the Public Realm
What Is the Sex of Citizenship?: Engendering the American Political Tradition from the Revolution to the New Dealp. 147
When Citizenship Was Male: 1776-1865p. 149
The Mother as Citizen: Segregated and Secondaryp. 162
The Woman Citizen Goes to Washingtonp. 174
Second-Class Citizenship: Male and Femalep. 188
Women Remake Gender in the Twentieth Century
How Do You Get from Home to Work to Equity?: 1900-1960p. 201
Who Made the Woman Worker?: An Overviewp. 203
The New Woman Goes to Work: 1890-1940p. 207
A Private Detour through the 1920sp. 214
The Next Generation Combines Work and Family: The 1940s and 1950sp. 227
The Mystery of the Feminine Mystiquep. 238
Where Does Sex Divide?: Feminism, Sexuality, and the Structures of Gender since 1960p. 245
The Second Wave of Feminism: 1960-1970p. 248
Sexual Revolution and Gay Rightsp. 265
Restructuring Gender Differences: 1980-2000p. 276
Where in the World Is the Border between Male and Female?: Immigration and Generation in the Twentieth Centuryp. 291
The Generations of Genderp. 295
New Immigrants Meet Postmodernity: 1965-2000p. 302
Joining Together to Remake Male, Female, and Americap. 314
Notesp. 325
Bibliographyp. 361
Acknowledgmentsp. 409
Indexp. 411
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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