ENGLISH 315 - Women and Literature
Winter 2018, Section 001 - Dangerous Women: Activism in the Progressive Era
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:


Well-behaved women, it is said, seldom make history. But those who don’t “behave” often have their contributions erased as well, particularly when they violate norms for what is considered appropriate feminine behavior. This class will examine the rhetorical literature of American women activists, reformers, and artists in and around the Progressive era (c. 1890-1920), women whose writing, speech, and behavior were frequently seen as a danger to the social order. We’ll consider figures such as peace activist Jane Addams, socialist Helen Keller, free love advocate Juliet Severance, anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, anarchist Emma Goldman, labor activist Mother Jones, birth-control advocate Margaret Sanger, Native rights advocate Zitkala Ša, and blues singer Bessie Smith.

The progressive era was one of the most intense periods of citizen activism in American history, one that holds both inspirational and cautionary lessons for our own. As we study the women rhetors of this period, we will pay close attention to how they used language to effect social change. What means of persuasion were available to them? How did they negotiate contemporary rhetorical constraints? What constructions of womanhood did they adopt, appropriate, or challenge? What makes publicly active women — then and now — seem so dangerous to begin with?

Intended Audience:

This class welcomes students from a variety of disciplines and requires no prerequisite study, just a desire to learn more about women’s rhetorical practices and a willingness to engage in critical reading, writing, and research in a discussion-based classroom. For more info, contact Dr. Gold at dpg@umich.edu.


ENGLISH 315 - Women and Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
1/3/18 - 4/17/18

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