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HIS 97 — The History of Feminism in the United States

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Jan 18—Feb 15
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 20
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $360
Instructor(s): Margo Horn
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jan 18—Feb 15
5 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 20
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Margo Horn
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
United States history has witnessed three feminist movements, and its fourth wave continues today. The first wave began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and lasted until the winning of women’s suffrage in 1920. The second wave started in the early 1960s with the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and ended with the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in the early 1980s and the splintering of the movement. Third-wave feminism started in the early 1990s with Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and continued into the early 2000s. A fourth wave emerged after 2010, fueled by social media and marked by the 2017 #MeToo movement and the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs Decision overturning a woman’s right to abortion. What historical conditions gave rise to each movement? How did the class, racial composition, and sexualities of activists change each subsequent feminist movement? What historical impact did each movement have? How can history help us speculate on the future of US feminism?

In this course, we will begin by reading selections from classic feminist theory such as Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women, and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, as well as Susan Moller Okin's Justice, Gender, and the Family (published in 1989). We will explore how these and more recent feminist texts, along with changing historical conditions, stimulated and defined feminism in the United States.

Former Lecturer, Department of History, Stanford

Margo Horn specializes in the history of women, the history of family, and the social history of medicine and psychiatry. Her research concerns the history of women physicians in the US, the history of single women in 20th-century America, and the history of women and mental illness in America during the same period. She is the author of Before It's Too Late: The Child Guidance Movement in the United States, 1922-1945. She received an MA and a PhD from Tufts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Estelle B. Freedman, The Essential Feminist Reader (ISBN 978-0812974607)