Catalogue

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Mere equals [electronic resource] : the paradox of educated women in the early American republic /
Lucia McMahon.
imprint
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 2012.
description
xvii, 228 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
9780801450525 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 2012.
isbn
9780801450525 (cloth : alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
contents note
Introduction : between Cupid and Minerva -- More like a pleasure than a study : women's educational experiences -- Various subjects that passed between two young ladies of America : reconstructing female friendship -- The social family circle : family matters -- The union of reason and love : courtship ideals and practices -- The sweet tranquility of domestic endearment : companionate marriage -- So material a change : revisiting republican motherhood -- Conclusion : education, equality, or difference.
catalogue key
8843466
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 175-221) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2013-04-01:
By detailing different women's lives through primary source analyses, McMahon (Paterson Univ.) allows readers to appreciate a firsthand account of women in the new national period who had attained an education beyond grammar school in newly founded female seminaries and institutes of higher learning. She discusses the emerging movement for educating women who saw themselves as equals to men in intellect, if not in politics and before the law. Society agreed, seeing that educated women would make exemplary mothers who in turn could guide new generations into enlightened citizenship. McMahon shows the dichotomy between acquiring knowledge in the arts and sciences equal to male education while remaining under female coverture. She shows how women struggled with the still-valid question of how men and women can be equal when they are so different at their cores. The author offers a comprehensive, in-depth discussion that is highly informative and an important addition to the national narrative on the history of women's ongoing struggle for equity and social justice. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. C. Warren Empire State College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"In Mere Equals, Lucia McMahon explores the intellectual lives of middle- and upper-class white women in the early republic. While we know about the growth of educational opportunities for women in this period and about the somewhat fluid situation as regards women's ability to participate in politics, McMahon does signal service in showing the meaning of intellectual equality in the private lives of ordinary women. Her study advances the discussion of white women's history in this pivotal era."-C. Dallett Hemphill, Ursinus College, author of Siblings: Brothers and Sisters in American History
"Mere Equals features an overarching narrative about the emergence of an idea of mere equality and its demise and reformulation into separate spheres. Lucia McMahon cleverly shows this process unfold over time (1790 to 1840) and over the seasons of her individual subjects' lives."-Catherine Kerrison, Villanova University, author of Claiming the Pen: Women and Intellectual Life in the Early American South
"Mere Equals introduces us to newly independent Americans who engaged in a conversation that has as much significance for us today as it did for them. In the wake of the Revolution, they asked themselves if women who now had the opportunity for more advanced education were men's intellectual equals. And if they were, did they have the same right as men to claim economic and political power? Should older ideas about sexual difference and gender hierarchy be abandoned? Lucia McMahon takes us into the lived experience of a generation who grappled with the implications of women being considered equal to and simultaneously different from men. Bold and innovative, Mere Equals addresses a debate that remains crucial in the twenty-first century."-Mary Kelley, Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, and Women's Studies, University of Michigan
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 2013
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
Bowker Data Service Summary
In this work, Lucia McMahon narrates a story about how a generation of young women who enjoyed access to new educational opportunities made sense of their individual and social identities in an American nation marked by stark political inequality between the sexes.
Main Description
In Mere Equals, Lucia McMahon narrates a story about how a generation of young women who enjoyed access to new educational opportunities made sense of their individual and social identities in an American nation marked by stark political inequality between the sexes. McMahons archival research into the private documents of middling and well-to-do Americans in northern states illuminates educated women s experiences with particular life stages and relationship arcs: friendship, family, courtship, marriage, and motherhood. In their personal and social relationships, educated women attempted to live as the "mere equals" of men. Their often frustrated efforts reveal how early national Americans grappled with the competing issues of women s intellectual equality and sexual difference.In the new nation, a pioneering society, pushing westward and unmooring itself from established institutions, often enlisted women s labor outside the home and in areas that we would deem public. Yet, as a matter of law, women lacked most rights of citizenship and this subordination was authorized by an ideology of sexual difference. What women and men said about education, how they valued it, and how they used it to place themselves and others within social hierarchies is a highly useful way to understand the ongoing negotiation between equality and difference. In public documents, difference overwhelmed equality, because the formal exclusion of women from political activity and from economic parity required justification. McMahon tracks the ways in which this public disparity took hold in private communications. By the 1830s, separate and gendered spheres were firmly in place. This was the social and political heritage with which women s rights activists would contend for the rest of the century.
Main Description
In Mere Equals, Lucia McMahon narrates a story about how a generation of young women who enjoyed access to new educational opportunities made sense of their individual and social identities in an American nation marked by stark political inequality between the sexes. McMahon's archival research into the private documents of middling and well-to-do Americans in northern states illuminates educated women's experiences with particular life stages and relationship arcs: friendship, family, courtship, marriage, and motherhood. In their personal and social relationships, educated women attempted to live as the "mere equals" of men. Their often frustrated efforts reveal how early national Americans grappled with the competing issues of women's intellectual equality and sexual difference. In the new nation, a pioneering society, pushing westward and unmooring itself from established institutions, often enlisted women's labor outside the home and in areas that we would deem public. Yet, as a matter of law, women lacked most rights of citizenship and this subordination was authorized by an ideology of sexual difference. What women and men said about education, how they valued it, and how they used it to place themselves and others within social hierarchies is a highly useful way to understand the ongoing negotiation between equality and difference. In public documents, "difference" overwhelmed "equality," because the formal exclusion of women from political activity and from economic parity required justification. McMahon tracks the ways in which this public disparity took hold in private communications. By the 1830s, separate and gendered spheres were firmly in place. This was the social and political heritage with which women's rights activists would contend for the rest of the century.
Main Description
In Mere Equals, Lucia McMahon narrates a story about how a generation of young women who enjoyed access to new educational opportunities made sense of their individual and social identities in an American nation marked by stark political inequality between the sexes. McMahon's archival research into the private documents of middling and well-to-do Americans in northern states illuminates educated women's experiences with particular life stages and relationship arcs: friendship, family, courtship, marriage, and motherhood. In their personal and social relationships, educated women attempted to live as the "mere equals" of men. Their often frustrated efforts reveal how early national Americans grappled with the competing issues of women's intellectual equality and sexual difference. In the new nation, a pioneering society, pushing westward and unmooring itself from established institutions, often enlisted women's labor outside the home and in areas that we would deem public. Yet, as a matter of law, women lacked most rights of citizenship and this subordination was authorized by an ideology of sexual difference. What women and men said about education, how they valued it, and how they used it to place themselves and others within social hierarchies is a highly useful way to understand the ongoing negotiation between equality and difference. In public documents, difference overwhelmed equality, because the formal exclusion of women from political activity and from economic parity required justification. McMahon tracks the ways in which this public disparity took hold in private communications. By the 1830s, separate and gendered spheres were firmly in place. This was the social and political heritage with which women's rights activists would contend for the rest of the century.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introduction: Between Cupid and Minervap. 1
"More like a Pleasure than a Study": Women's Educational Experiencesp. 18
"Various Subjects That Passed between Two Young Ladies of America": Reconstructing Female Friendshipp. 42
"The Social Family Circle": Family Mattersp. 67
"The Union of Reason and Love": Courtship Ideals and Practicesp. 90
"The Sweet Tranquility of Domestic Endearment": Companionate Marriagep. 116
"So Material a Change": Revisiting Republican Motherhoodp. 139
Conclusion: Education, Equality, or Differencep. 164
List of Archivesp. 171
Notesp. 175
Indexp. 223
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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