Paper (5-6 pages)
Interview a woman who in her late 40s or older about her views and experiences as a girl and a woman in the late 20th– and early 21st century U.S. The goal of this paper is to explore how changing societal norms in regard to gender influenced one woman’s personal experiences and self-understanding.
Be sure to cover such critical topics as: her expectations and experiences in regard to 1) education/work/career; and 2) family life, including marriage/motherhood if relevant. If your interviewee is an immigrant, you will want to ask questions about the gendered aspects of assimilation (or lack thereof). In other word, did she experience conflicting expectations because the gender norms of her country of origin differed from those of the US? In what ways? How might her life have differed had she not immigrated? The woman you interview need not have been born in the U.S., nor need she be an American citizen. However, she should have resided in the US for at least the past decade or so
Your paper should include both a biographical and a scholarly/analytical perspective by using narrative footnotes to refer to relevant course lectures, course readings or other literature that you may decide to read in light of your interviewee’s experiences. For example, say your interviewee talked about how she was determined to finish school before starting a family; you could include a footnote explaining how her views differed from those of young women in the 1950s, who often left college in order to marry. Or say your interviewee has been through a divorce; you might have a footnote briefly referring to changing mores and rising divorce rates beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s.
You have a great deal of latitude to conduct the interview in your own fashion. You may want to consider asking your subject to reflect on the differences between her own life and that of her mother and/or older female relatives. The key point is to explore and analyze how individual life decisions that seem very personal—what to study in school, how many children (if any) to have, whether to live with or far away from extended family members—are in fact profoundly influenced by broad historical changes that have shaped the prevailing cultural context.
When referring to course readings, your footnotes only need to include the author’s name, the title of the book/article, and the page number. If you refer to other literature, outside the assigned readings, you need to provide a full citation. Example: Glenna Matthews, ‘Just a Housewife’: The Rise and Fall of Domesticity in America (New York: Oxford University Press), 78-89. You do not need to footnote the lectures unless you quote me directly or use specific facts/figures that I provided. In this case, cite the lectures as follows: Plant, Lecture on “Women and the Workplace,” May 1, 2017.
Papers should be double spaced, with 1” margins and in a 12 point font.