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Novels for a Course on the Women's Movement

This file offers suggestions for novels to include in a course on
the women's liberation movement.  The suggestions were offered on
WMST-L in May 2005.  For additional WMST-L files available on the
Web, see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Thursday, May 12, 2005 8:44 AM
From: Ann Marie Nicolosi <nicolosi AT TCNJ.EDU>
Subject: Novels for women's movement course
Hello friends,

I am offering a first year seminar entitled "Documenting The Women's
Liberation Movement: A Historical Journey" and would like to include
some contemporary novels from the period.  I welcome any suggestions.
Happy end of the semester!!


nicolosi  AT  tcnj.edu

Ann Marie Nicolosi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Women and Gender Studies/History
The College of New Jersey
PO Box 7718
Ewing, NJ 08628
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 12:17:03 -0400
From: Laura Micham <laura.m AT DUKE.EDU>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
Memoirs of an Ex Prom Queen by Alix Kates Shulman is one of the first
novels to come out of the Women's Liberation Movement. I think it would be
perfect for almost any class focusing on the women's movement of the 1960's
and 70's. Very readable as well.

Laura Micham
Director, Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture
Subject Librarian, Women's Studies
Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Box 90185, Duke University
Durham, NC 27708-0185 U.S.A.
website: http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/women/
email: cwhc  AT  duke.edu or laura.m  AT  duke.edu
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 10:22:08 -0600
From: "Grotzky, Marilyn" <Marilyn.Grotzky AT CUDENVER.EDU>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
Read the reviews of Marge Piercy's Small Changes on Amazon -- one
reviewer said "it wasn't about the time, it *was* the time."  My
personal favorite from the same time is Piercy's Vida.  There's a lot to
be said for Marilyn French's The Women's Room -- think of the reaction
to Kent State.  Burning Questions and Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen by
Alix Kates Shulman.

There's also music -- I like Margie Adam's I'm Not a Filling Station and
If I Could Be Cool Around You -- maybe it's the references to getting to
all my meetings on time, which always seemed to me the story of the
times. For music, you need videos -- when I play music for my classes,
they begin to fidget first, then draw or write.  They can't listen to
the words, which is the point.  Holly Near sang the times -- she has a
retrospective video.

Marilyn Grotzky
Institute for Women's Studies and Services
Metropolitan State College
and Auraria Library
Denver, CO
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 13:10:01 -0400
From: Hagolem <hagolem AT C4.NET>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
Alix Kates Shulman, Memoirs of an Ex Prom Queen.

Of course, my own Small Changes.

If you're going back further, the novel that will come out in December, SEX
WARS, concerns the first wave of feminism.

Also Judy Chicago's early memoir THROUGH THE FLOWER.

Audre Lorde's memoir ZAMI

Marilyn French. THE WOMEN'S ROOM

THE COOK AND THE CARPENTER  but I can't remember the author's name. She
lived in Vermont and ran a small press.


hope this helps and that someone will remember the author's name above.

marge piercy
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 13:26:42 -0400
From: robson <robson AT MAIL.LAW.CUNY.EDU>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
June Arnold is the author of COOK AND THE CARPENTER.

Thanks to Marge for including lesbian books!

Of Marge Piercy's novels, I'm interested she suggested SMALL CHANGES only of
the previous books.  I think VIDA is amongst my favorites, combining the
politics of the left with the women's movement in a way that one rarely
saw/sees.  And I do love BRAIDED LIVES.

I also recommend the MEMOIRS OF AN EX-PROM QUEEN, and I'd be interested to
hear how that resonates with college-age women now.

Ruthann Robson
Professor of Law
City University of New York (CUNY)
School of Law
65-21 Main Street
Flushing, NY USA 11657
robson  AT  mail.law.cuny.edu
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 17:28:49 +0000
From: Vicki Kirsch <vickikirsch AT HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
I would also want to add WOMAN AND NATURE and PORNOGRAPHY AND SILENCE both
by Susan Griffin.


Vicki Kirsch, LICSW, Ph.D.

"The sacred is on the tip of the tongue."
Navajo poet Luci Tapahonso
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 17:37:24 +0000
From: Vicki Kirsch <vickikirsch AT HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
Whoops - sorry!  I got so excited by my wonderful memories of reaching
aforementioned novels with these two non-fiction works that I wanted to
include them...of course Griffin's works are not novels!

Vicki Kirsch, LICSW, Ph.D.

"The sacred is on the tip of the tongue."
Navajo poet Luci Tapahonso
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 13:50:30 EDT
Subject: Re: Cook and Carpenter author
> THE COOK AND THE CARPENTER  but I can't remember the author's name. She
> lived in Vermont and ran a small press.

Yes, it was June Arnold, and the small press was Daughters, Inc.  In this
novel, which I enjoyed reading, the author invented nongendered pronouns so that
the reader didn't know who was male or female until the end!

Shirley Frank
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 07:56:54 -1000
From: Kathy Ferguson <kferguso AT HAWAII.EDU>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
I would like to add that I also loved VIDA and have returned to it
often. I imagine it would be an eye-opener to today's undergraduates.

Kathy Ferguson
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 13:16:24 -0500
From: gblalock AT GRANDECOM.NET
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
_Meridian_ by Alice Walker

glenn blalock
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 13:09:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course

I suggest some of the following.  I've not checked the dates of their
appearance, but they come to mind as books I and others read and
enjoyed during the 1970s and 1980s, and that we thought of as
"feminist" or as documenting in some way the times we were living in.
Some focus on heterosexual relations, others focus on lesbian
relations.  A few are futuristic, utopian, or fantasy.  I'd like to
hear others add to this list.


*The Woman Who Owned the Shadows* by Paula Gunn Allen
*Kinflicks* by Lisa Alther
*The Cook and The Carpenter* and *Sister Gin* by June Arnold
*Give Me Your Good Ear* by Maureen Brady
*Rubyfruit Jungle* and *In Her Day* by Rita Mae Brown
*Abeng* by Michelle Cliff
*The Women's Room* by Marilyn French
*Edward The Dyke* by Judy Grahn
*Catching Saradove* and *Confessions of Cherubino* by Bertha Harris
*Fear of Flying* by Erica Jong
*Who Was That Masked Woman?* and *Valley of the Amazons* by Noretta Koertge
*Zami: Toward A New Spelling of My Name* by Audre Lorde
*Patience and Sarah* by Isabelle Miller
*Flying* and *Sita* by Kate Millett
*Woman on the Edge of Time,* *Small Changes,* and "Vida* by Marge Piercy
*The Female Man* by Joanna Russ
*Meridian* by Alice Walker
*Les Guerrilieres* by Monique Wittig

M. Charlene Ball, Ph.D., Academic Professional
Women's Studies Institute
Georgia State University
P.O. Box 3969
Atlanta, GA  30302-3969
Atlanta, GA   30303-3083

mcharleneball  AT  gsu.edu
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 01:44:52 -0400
From: Judith Lorber <jlorber AT RCN.COM>
Subject: Cook and Carpenter
>From Powell's website --

The Cook and the Carpenter: A Novel by the Carpenter (Cutting Edge)

by June Arnold

ISBN: 0814706312  Subtitle: A Novel by the Carpenter

Introduction: Zimmerman, Bonnie

Publisher: New York University Press

Paperback Series: Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life & Literature Series Info:
Cutting edge (New York, N.Y.) no. 2701 (April 1943)

Publication Date: April 1995


Judith Lorber, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita
Brooklyn College and Graduate School, CUNY
Email: jlorber  AT  rcn.com

Nature is not neat. The "intelligent designer" is us.

Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 08:45:22 -0400
From: Anne R Carson <arc3 AT CORNELL.EDU>
Subject: Re. women's movement novels
Another novel that came to my mind as a sort of Ur-women's liberation
fiction is _Diary of a Mad Housewife_ by Sue Kaufman (1967). Narrated by a
Vassar-educated artist who is being stifled by her husband, lover, and
male therapist, it is not strictly speaking from the 70's women's movement
but is an excellent example of why many middle-class women embraced the
movement so passionately.

Anne Carson
Cornell University Library
arc3  AT  cornell.edu
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 11:26:35 -0400
From: Alice Bach <asherah1 AT ADELPHIA.NET>
Subject: Re: Re. women's movement novels
If it is Ur-novelists, there is Lois Gould, whose irony and strong voice
started with Such Good Friends and ended (I believe) with a lovely memoir
called Mommy Dressing.  A feminist rip was The Sea Change, that might be of
more interest today than it was when published.

In peace,

Alice Bach
 Archbishop Hallinan Chair of Catholic Studies
Associate Professor of Religion
105 Mather House
CWRU 10900 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland OH  44106
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 10:48:17 -0600
From: "Grotzky, Marilyn" <Marilyn.Grotzky AT CUDENVER.EDU>
Subject: FW: Re: Novels for women's movement course
I often use the video Berkeley in the 60's (part I: The Free Speech
Movement) in my WS classes because it shows the sort of world that Vida
(from Marge Piercy's novel) lived in, which is as foreign to 20 year
olds as the world of Star Wars.

Ask a class to whom this country belongs sometime.  Then show Berkeley.
This also relates to the abortion movement -- once the students have
seen a movement actually move, they can visualize another movement more
clearly.  One of the great messages in Berkeley is that, once the
movement begins, those who started it can't necessarily control what

If you have the first Political Palate by the Bloodroot Collective, the
books, records, poems, and so forth in their bibliography would be
helpful.  They're online www.bloodroot.com though the bibliography

I often tell WS students about the old days, when bibliographies about
women were dittoed and passed around because finding information about
us was so difficult, as contrasted to now, when Joan has a list of over
200 WS net sites alone and there's a third edition of Women's Studies: A
Core Bibliography (848 pages -- and the editors were very selective).

Shulman's Burning Questions has such a bibliography in the back, as does
the Political Palate (above), which is a revolutionary feminist cookbook
-- bibliography making was once a revolutionary feminist act.  Knowing
that may help students understand their importance in a WS class.

Marilyn Grotzky
Auraria Library
MSCD Institute of Women's Studies and Services
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 09:52:01 -0700
From: pjkafka <pjkafka AT EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
Some of these were published later, but are from or about the period:

A very important anthology of Native American, African American,
Chicana, and Asian American women's writing, the first I am aware of,
was first published in 1980.  Dexter Fisher, ed. The Third Woman:
Minority Women Writers of the United States. It contains the most
representative poetry of the period, short stories, etc.  Alice
Walker, The Color Purple (bildungsroman), In Search of Our Mothers'
Gardens (womanist essays from the period).  Paule Marshall
(Afr. Amer. of Caribbean descent), Brown Girl, Brownstones Shashi
Deshpande (Indian) The Binding Vine Bharati Mukherjee (Indian,
naturalized American), Jasmine Nawal al Sadaawi (Egyptian), Woman at
Point Zero Sandra Cisneros (Chicana), Woman Hollering Creek and Other
Stories (outstanding is the eponymous story about sisterhood of
straight and lesbian women who create an underground railroad to save
the victim of domestic violence and a Chicana feminist version of
Carmen) Judith Ortiz Cofer (Puertoriquena), Silent Dancing Maxine Hong
Kingston (Chinese American), The Woman Warrior Amy Tan (Chinese
American) The Kitchen God's Wife (Chinese American)
E(sther). M. Broner (Jewish American/Israeli), A Weave of Women (about
Israeli feminists)

Dr. Phillipa Kafka
Professor Emerita, English
Kean University
Date: Sat, 14 May 2005 11:53:58 +0000
From: Susan Stinson <su2aniz AT HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Novels for women's movement course
I'd add

Riverfinger Woman by Elana Dykewomon
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg  (written later, but comments on the

to the quite wonderful and extensive list.

Susan Stinson
author, Venus of Chalk, Fat Girl Dances with Rocks and Martha Moody
Po Box 1272
Northampton, MA 01061
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 08:36:01 -0700
From: Sarah Rasmusson <sarahrasmusson AT YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Re: Novels for women's movement course
Hey Annie -

_Blonde: A Novel_ by Joyce Carol Oates
is a thinly veiled bio of Marilyn Monroe with feminist
cherry on top

The whole Chick Lit scene right now is laden with
third wave overtones... Helen Fielding, Candice
Bushnell (of now Sex & City fame), etc.

You might check out:

_Devil Wears Prada_
_Bergdorf Blondes : A Novel_  by Plum Sykes

Of course there's anything by Helen Fielding like the
Bridget Jones Diaries series,

_The Nanny Diaries: A Novel_ was self-published by 2
young women by Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus
who decided to take on the labor exploitation of their
employers --

And for some non-vapid, non-consumerist oriented third
wave coming of age stuff, try
_Stop That Girl_
_A Girl Becomes A Comma Like That_
_Fat Girl: A True Story_

Best, Sarah Rasmusson

Adjunct Professor
Women's & Gender Studies Program
The College of New Jersey

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