For the remainder of the semester, we will be focusing on American Literature during the Era of Reform. This era saw the emergence of remarkable writers and thinkers dedicated to realizing the promise of a vital, engaged democracy. Writers such as Margeret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglas, and Louisa May Alcott focused on a number of issues needing improvement in America ranging from women’s rights, worker rights, education for all, and an overall enlightened political and artistic culture.
As we head into the final stretch of the semester, I want you to start thinking about a topic (author or theme) that you would like to write about for your Final Essay Assignment. You may focus on readings we’ve done (working from one of your earlier posts perhaps) or choose a topic from upcoming authors (you could also focus on a film I’ve recommended).
Please choose a topic by Wed. Dec. 6. The essay will be due Wed. Dec. 20. Please email me about any questions you may have or for a topic suggestion (email@example.com).
For this week we will focus on the fight for equality for men AND women. This story begins in a town in New York state called Seneca Falls. It was here in 1848, that women (led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony) met at a convention to demand their rights. Together they penned the Declaration of Sentiments, which as you’ll note, was a re-writing of the original Declaration of Independence (1776).
Read: Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Declaration of Sentiments” (1848). Also important in this fight was the Transendentalist Margaret Fuller, who wrote Woman in the 19th Century. Here is an excerpt from her landmark book: “Educate Men and Women as Souls”
Importantly, Sojourner Truth called out the early fight for Women’s Rights for not including African American women as well in their efforts.
Listen to what she had to say in this speech reenactment: VIDEO
Here is the original text of the speech: “Ain’t I a Woman?”
In 2020, the first monument to women went up in Central Park featuring Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. Read the STORY here.
There is also a remarkable and important film on the great African American Freedom Fighter Harriet Tubman, which I highly encourage you to watch (if not now perhaps over the winter break). The film shows Tubman’s courageous work on “the Underground Railroad” in which she helped southern enslaved persons escape their masters to flee north. View film trailer here: Harriet Tubman
I also HIGHLY recommend the recent film version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women , which provides a wonderful sense of life in the 1840s in Concord from the perspective of courageous, talented young ladies. View film trailer Here.
POST ASSIGNMENT (DUE: Tues. Dec. 6) For this week, please read and watch the above mentioned readings and videos. In your post, respond to ONE of them. Alternately, pick a grievance from the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments and speak to how this issue relates to women’s position in society today (cite an example if you can).