Week 12: The Era of Reform, Post Due: Tues. Dec. 5th

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 (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu).

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, â€śDeclaration 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: â€śEducate 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).


  1. Brandon Rios

    The 1848 protestation of Sentiments, presented at the Seneca Falls Convention, addressed colorful grievances faced by women in the 19th century. One significant grievance was the lack of women’s franchise, as they were denied the right to bounce. The document asserted that women, like men, should have the right to share in the popular process. In contemporary society, the issue of women’s franchise has been largely addressed, with women gaining the right to bounce in numerous countries worldwide. still, the broader theme of gender equivalency and the fight against demarcation and bias persist. While women have made substantial strides in colorful fields, there are still challenges related to equal representation, pay equity, and the pervasive influence of gender conceptions. In the plant, women continue to face walls that limit their openings for leadership places and equal pay. Despite progress, there’s an ongoing need to challenge systemic impulses and produce surroundings that promote gender diversity and inclusivity. also, women are still disproportionately affected by issues similar as gender- grounded violence and importunity, emphasizing the need for continued advocacy and policy changes. The 1848 protestation of Sentiments, with its call for equivalency and the right to share in societal opinions, laid the root for the broader struggle for women’s rights. While women have made substantial earnings in the once century, the fight for true equivalency is ongoing, and addressing contemporary challenges requires a commitment to dismembering moping walls and fostering inclusivity in all aspects of society.

    • Mark Noonan

      Brandon, Could you provide more specific examples of women still being treated as 2nd class citizens in the US today?

  2. Sajeevan

    “Educate Men and Women as Souls”

    Men should treat women as equals since women give us birth and we should be grateful to them. Men should never control the women in their lives and should give them the freedom to do what they like. Also don’t just keep them in the house to do the house jobs. you should let them have higher education, so they can learn more about everything. Also, trust the women completely and don’t doubt about women’s actions. Let the women join politics and do good for the other women. They can support other women who are struggling in life and can make their lives better. Every man has at least one woman in their life and they should take good care of them.

    • Mark Noonan

      Well said Sajeevan!

  3. Mariam Otero

    One key issue from the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments that still matters today is the unfair treatment of women at work. The Declaration pointed out that men had the upper hand on most well-paying jobs, leaving women with little pay and fewer chances. This mirrors ongoing gender inequalities in today’s workplaces.

    Even though we’ve made progress, women still confront challenges. On average, women earn less than men for doing the same job. Discrimination and biases during hiring, promotions, and salary discussions contribute to this gap. Women also remain limited in top leadership roles across different industries, continuing the historical trend of denying them opportunities.

    Also, getting into certain professions is tough for women, and they often deal with stereotypes limiting their choices. The Declaration talked about women being denied education opportunities, and though things have improved, some areas like technology and architecture still have fewer women. Unfair biases discourage women from pursuing careers in fields like these as well as others traditionally seen as “men’s jobs.”

    • Mark Noonan

      Terrific points Mariam.

  4. Roussena Jean Pierre

    Grievance from the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments was an essential legal paper drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who also organized the Seneca Falls Convention in New York, where her document was dispensed. The charter listed eighteen prejudices faced by women. Also, it proposed eleven resolutions that suggested equal rights for women in the United States with the help of Anthony, who helped draft and promote the movement. Feminist Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Vindication of the Rights of Women (1759-1797) and Sara Grimke’s “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes” (1792-1873) were of benefit to the charter as the convention organizers drew some of the issues from their work.

    Issues such as society’s expectations of women, legal status, and limited rights were discussed broadly. Similarly, the issue of gender inequality, stereotypes, and unequal pay is also common in the current society, as was discussed in the Declaration of Elizabeth in 1848. The document serves as a source of reference for the challenges women face in modern society. It also advocates for equal human rights for both genders; for example, the issue of pay is so common that females get lower pay than men working in the same position. The difference is wider if the lady is Black in a White country. There is income inequality between men and women in modern society; most women do not make much for retirement.

    In the issue of leadership, women are disqualified and assumed to be of low IQ( Intellectual capacity). Their points of view are sometimes childish or of no benefit; hence, they are underappreciated, including in political, social, and economic development. Gender-based violence, rights to reproduction such as family planning, healthcare, body image pressures, and lack of equalization in science, technology, and mathematics, as presented in the grievances form, are also experienced in modern society. Therefore, grievances expressed in the 1848 declaration are still evident in the current society and should be taken seriously for the benefit of women in general.

    • Mark Noonan

      You raise good points but could you be more specific about examples of women being treated as 2nd class citizens today?

  5. Rujin Chen

    “Ain’t I a Woman” by Sojourner Truth

    This has been an iconic speech and special moment in the history, resonating across generations as a powerful call for gender and racial equality. It continues to inspire movements advocating for social justice, equality, and the rights of marginalized communities.

    Sojourner Truth derived this famous speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851. This speech is renowned for its powerful advocacy for women’s rights and equality.

    Sojourner Truth, an African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, emphasized the intersectionality of race and gender. Awaken people from the “close minded” history. She pointed out the struggles faced by, particularly African American women, highlighting their strength, resilience, inherent rights, and contributions to the society.

    As the title “Ain’t I a woman?” challenging the prevailing societal norms that often excluded African American women from discussions about women’s rights. Truth demanded recognition and equality for all women, regardless of race, asserting her worth as a woman in a society that frequently discriminated against African American women. This speech showed the powerful women’s right movement. Great progress in developing “equal rights.”

    • Mark Noonan

      Terrific points Rujin!

  6. Jessica GP

    Sojourner Truth’s speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” addresses the disparities between African Americans and women, highlighting the societal imbalance of her time. She says “I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?” this quote brings focus on her capacity for labor, sustenance, and endurance being equal to one of a man. In the speech, she challenges the societal norms that undermine women’s capabilities and emphasizes how she can work as hard as a man, and endure the hardships and physical pain just as a man would, all while demanding recognition of her womanhood and resilience. Truth’s words resonate strongly with present-day discussions of gender equality and the recognition of women’s capabilities, particularly in male-dominated fields or environments. I believe Truth’s speech is a reminder to us women to keep striving to reach our full potential regardless of the gender bias we still have to face in today’s society. 

    • Mark Noonan

      Nicely stated Jessica!

  7. Akeria

    In the article ”Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I A Woman?” It talks about and addresses the hardships African American Woman had faced during slavery. I think that this relates to woman’s position in today’s society because African American Woman still face discrimination and also endure racism. I think that this was a powerful speech made by Sojourner Truth because we get to hear the struggles that was happening during this time and also shows advocacy for equal rights for women. Sojourner Truth’s advocacy helps out Women in today’s society because it teaches you to always have courage and never be afraid to go after what you want and also never be afraid to fight for what is right.

    • Mark Noonan

      I really like your concluding remarks here Akeria.

  8. Jimmy

    Sojourner Truth’s ” Ain’t I A Woman?”

    Sojourner Truth’s speech resonates powerfully with the enduring struggles of both African Americans and women in the 19th century, showcasing an intersectional perspective on gender and racial inequalities. Truth’s eloquent challenge to societal norms remain prominent till this very day as we grapple with ongoing issues of inequality. In the article, it states “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?.” This is a very powerful quote because it challenges the prevailing gender norms of her time. She points out the hypocrisy of the societal expectations that women should be treated with delicately and provided special priviledges. By questioning why she isn’t afforded the same considerations as other other, she challenges the stereotype and limited perception of femininity prevalent in her era. I love how she repeats ” And ain’t I a woman?” because she is emphasizing that regardless of societal expectations, she is a woman who deserves equal recognition, respect and rights,

    • Mark Noonan

      Nicely stated Jimmy.

  9. Angelo.A

    “Educate men and women as souls”

    In this exerpt, it talks about how men and women should trust eachother and that should be treated as equals shown in this line “let him trust her entirely, and give her every privilege already acquired for himself, elective franchise, tenture of property, liberty to speak in public assemblies, &c.” Also women could handle themselves and shouldn’t be locked in the house all day, they have tasks that are large in proportion. “The tasks which come to her are so vaarious, and so large a proportion of women are thrown entirely upon thier own resources”. Mne shouldn’t control the women and instead just trust them and discover what it means to be a women and the same goes for men.

    • Mark Noonan

      I’m glad you picked this selection Angelo, which you explain well.

  10. Nia

    Sojourner Truth’s powerful words remind us of how African American women have struggled throughout history. Truth’s speech challenges the prevailing notions of femininity and highlights the intersectionality of race and gender. Suffrage was one of the grievances listed in the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments. In those days, women struggled for the right to vote as a basic right. While progress has been made, we continue to struggle with issues of representation and gender equality in politics today. Women continue to advocate for equal opportunities, fair representation in leadership roles, and the dismantling of systemic barriers that hinder their full participation in democracy. The battle for equality is continuing, adapting to the times but adhering to the same principles of justice and fairness. While there have been strides, women are still underrepresented in many political arenas. I last updated my knowledge in 2022, and only a few countries have had female heads of state. In the United States, for example, Kamala Harris was elected as the first female vice president in 2020. Though it is an important step, the fact that it took until 2020 for a woman to reach this position underscores the difficulties women face in breaking through the glass ceiling of politics.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very thoughtful response Nia. I really like your reference to Kamala Harris. It seems though that Joe Biden hasn’t really promoted her as he could have. Shouldn’t she be running for President this time around!!!

  11. Sarah Munassar

    In Sojourner Truth’s iconic “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, made at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, passionately campaigned for the rights of both women and African Americans. In her address, Truth challenged prevailing notions of gender and race, asserting her humanity and equality. She spoke eloquently about the distinction between social standards of femininity and the reality that African American women endure, emphasizing her strength and endurance. Truth argued persuasively that, despite being denied traditional attributes of womanhood because of her color, she had inherent worth and deserved equal rights and respect. Her powerful words resonated with the crowd, stressing the intersections of gender and race while arguing for all women’s fundamental rights and dignity.

    The 1848 Declaration of Sentiments expressed concern over women being unable to vote. This problem is still relevant today, as women continue to encounter barriers to equal political say. There are fewer women in big political posts, showing that the struggle for fair treatment mentioned in the declaration is still an ongoing battle for women in society.

    • Mark Noonan

      I couldn’t agree more with your comment about our needing more political representation by women — but there are some doing some great work. Even the Republicans have a strong female candidate running for their party’s presidential nomination.

  12. Luis Delgado

    “Educate Men and Women as Souls”

    In this document: Fuller analyzes and discusses the role women played in the 19th century. Women were not equals with men in terms of civil rights, most of these included but are not limited to; No ability to vote, no access to higher education, and limited job opportunities. Fuller argues for the equality of both men and women and that women should be able to develop their minds and their spirits. Fuller even argues that men are not truly free until they let women be free because they are relying on a “conventional restriction”. Fuller continues to argue that women should break free of these traditional roles (Such as how normative is was to be a wife and a mother) and expresses that women should be seen as more than such, and that men should understand a woman’s capability. I believe the quote “Educate Men and Women as Souls” means that men and women should not be judged or restricted by the identity of their gender, because at the end of it all, the body is only physical but the soul is forever and how one should be judged by the purity of their soul. 

    • Mark Noonan

      I’m so glad you commented on this great piece Luis, which you do well.

  13. Carolyn

    The Seneca Falls “Declaration of Sentiments”

    This article highlights the long struggle for women’s rights in the United States. It points out how, for a long time, women were treated unfairly compared to men. Women couldn’t vote, had no say in making laws, and had fewer rights, especially if they were married. The article talks about how women were often kept away from good jobs and education, and how they were expected to depend on men and not trust in their own abilities.

    What stands out is the demand for equal rights for women, stating that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. This includes voting, owning property, getting a good education, and having the same chances in life to succeed. The article is powerful because it doesn’t just talk about what’s wrong; it calls for change and equality. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come in terms of women’s rights, but also how these issues still need attention and action today.

    • Mark Noonan

      I really like your concluding line Carolyn. Nicely put.

  14. Mumin Khan

    In her ground-breaking book “Woman in the Nineteenth Century,” Margaret Fuller advocates for a radical change in the way society views gender and education. She argues, “Educate Men and Women as Souls.” Fuller, a trailblazing feminist and scholar of the 1800s, questions the then-dominant customs that ascribed strict, unequal roles to men and women according to their gender.

    Her appeal for acknowledging the inherent value and potential of every person, regardless of gender, is to educate men and women as souls rather than just as gendered beings. According to Fuller, education should support people’s intellectual and spiritual development rather than only teaching them social norms or traditional gender roles.

    In the context of the 19th century, this viewpoint was revolutionary because it challenged long-held beliefs about the skills and social roles of women. Fuller envisioned a world freed from the artificial limitations of gender norms, where people were respected and taught on the basis of their humanity and potential.

    As a result, her work was crucial to the feminist movement’s early development and laid the groundwork for later campaigns for gender equality and the alteration of cultural and educational standards. Fuller made a substantial contribution to the conversation about gender, education, and the acceptance of universal human rights through her writings.


    The 1848 Declaration of Sentiments stated that married women were “civilly dead” in the eyes of the law. Today, legal coverture is abolished, yet its legacy persists subtly. For instance, the gender wage gap reflects ongoing economic disparity. Women legally earn and own property, but often receive lower wages than men for equivalent work, demonstrating a modern remnant of historical legal inequalities.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very good analysis of these two pieces, Mumin.

  15. waleed yahya

    For this assignment I chose to talk about Sojourner Truth and her speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” Sojourner Truth was born in 1797. She fought for human rights, especially for women. In her speech in 1851, she basically said women are just as good as men and shouldn’t be treated any less.

    Today we still have a problem called the gender pay gap. Back in Sojourner Truth’s time, women got paid way less than men and is still happening now. Although it was way worse back then women weren’t even allowed to work but at least the issue became less of a problem. Sadly, women are still earning less money for doing the same job as guys especially women who aren’t white. She claimed that it wasn’t fair, and it’s like we’re still fighting the same fight for women’s rights.

    When we compare Sojourner Truth’s time to now, it’s like were still dealing with the same issues. Women should get the same pay as men for doing the same work. It’s not right, and we need to keep pushing for fairness. Why are we still talking about this? It’s time for a change, and we all need to be part of making things equal for everyone. A women can work as hard as a man. Sojourner Truth said in her speech. “I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman?”

    • Mark Noonan

      That’s a very refreshing and wise response Waleed. I couldn’t agree more — why ARE we still talking about this!

  16. Bai Ngai

    Educate Men and Women as Souls

    Men should praise and provide equality to women, women provide men love and play an extremely significant role in men’s lives. Men should never control women and their freedom to live. By trapping them within a bubble, women cannot express their actions and eventually affects men’s emotions. Men should provide the same equal rights to women that men already have. “Let him trust her entirely, and give her every privilege already acquired for himself,—elective franchise, tenure of property, liberty to speak in public assemblies” Society will continue to evolve and we as a society cannot educate women as women, treating them as equals is what will help us continue in our lives. “Man, do not prescribe how the Divine shall display itself in Woman. Woman, do not expect to see all of God in Man.” Expect there to be problems, but these problems are natural to continue to progress together.

  17. Glory Omoruyi

    The “Declaration of Sentiments” (1848) by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s was a groundbreaking document that echoed the sentiments of the women’s suffrage movement, addressing issues of gender inequality and advocating for women’s rights. One notable grievance from the declaration was the denial of women’s right to vote and participate in shaping the laws that governed them. The issue of women’s suffrage addressed in the Declaration of Sentiments is particularly relevant today, as it highlights the enduring struggle for gender equality. While significant progress has been made since 1848, women’s fight for equal representation persists. The 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920, but challenges such as voter suppression, gender bias in politics, and underrepresentation in leadership roles persist.

    In today’s society, the gender gap in political leadership remains evident. Women continue to be underrepresented in political offices globally. For instance, the gender disparity in the United States Congress and other legislative bodies persists, hindering women’s full participation in shaping policies that affect them. To address this issue, organizations and movements advocating for women’s rights, such as the Women’s March and various grassroots initiatives, continue the legacy of Anthony and Stanton. Their dedication to equal representation echoes in today’s efforts to break down barriers and promote gender equality in political spheres. In essence, the grievance of denied suffrage in the “Declaration of Sentiments” remains a significant reminder of the ongoing struggle for women’s rights. While strides have been made, the fight for equal representation and empowerment continues to shape the discourse on gender equality in the contemporary world.

  18. Taylor Edwards

    One grievance from the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments that continues to resonate with women’s position in society today is the limited access to education and professional opportunities. In the declaration, it was asserted that women were denied the right to acquire a thorough education, leaving them dependent on men for their livelihoods and reinforcing their subordination.

    While significant progress has been made since 1848, gender disparities still persist in educational attainment and career opportunities. For example, women continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields , which are critical sectors for innovation and economic growth in the modern world. According to the National Science Foundation, women held just 28% of science and engineering jobs in the United States in 2019.

    Even when women do pursue higher education, they often face systemic barriers and biases that impede their access to leadership positions and career advancement. This is commonly known as the “glass ceiling” effect. For instance, studies consistently show that women are underrepresented in top executive positions across various industries.

    An example is the gender pay gap that still persists today. Despite decades of activism and legal regulations aiming for pay equity, women, on average, continue to earn less than men for similar work. In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that women earned around 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.

    Overall, limited access to education and professional opportunities highlighted in the 1848 declaration remains a significant issue affecting women’s position in society today. While progress has been achieved, these persistent gender disparities remind us that there is still work to be done to secure equality and ensure that women have equal opportunities to thrive and succeed in all aspects of society.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *