Overview

This workshop explores congruities among the ways we learn and features of hypermedia. In particular, on the learning side, it takes advantage of the recursive or iterative nature of learning, of the multiplicity of learning styles, and of the importance of students engaging in authentic tasks, i.e., ones actually undertaken by practitioners in the field. How compatible with these features of effective learning are hypermedia? I have sought to explore these issues at some length in my essay, "Women and the American Experience" for the Crossroads Project.

Each of the projects linked at left are authentic or, at the least, are drawn from my own research into the origins of the organized woman's rights movement in the U.S. which Harcourt Brace is publishing this winter under the title, "This High and Holy Moment."

The points at issue are: Do these projects, singly or in combination, permit multiple points of entry and thus multiple learning styles? Is the structure of the assignment(s) such that students can learn in a recursive manner? Finally, is such an approach to learning compatible with rich content? The projects are:

1) "A Plain Truth, Plainly Told": Sojourner Truth at the first National Woman's Rights Convention, Worcester, 1850. This was Truth's first major speech on woman's rights and its links to anti-slavery. What did she actually say? Materials: Convention Proceedings, newspaper accounts from the New-York Tribune, New-York Herald, Boston Daily Mail.

2) "Masculine Superiority Fever": Making Sense of "Spheres." The notion that men and women each had distinct and separate "spheres" of activities and duties was central to the way Americans thought about gender in the middle of the nineteenth century. What exactly were these "spheres"? Materials include: John Neal, "Brother Jonathan's Wife"; Harper's New Monthly Magazine, "The Rights and Wrongs of Women"; Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "Woman and Her Wishes"; Jane Swisshelm, Letters to Country Girls excerpts; Godey's Lady's Book, "The Sphere of Woman;" plus illustrations.

3) "Out of the Mouths of Babes": Children's Literature and Popular Attitudes about Race and Gender. Cultural historians are turning more often to children's literature to gauge popular values and beliefs. How ought we interpret such materials? What can they tell us about popular attitudes? Materials include: The Tom Boy Who Became A Real Boy, The Girl Who Inked Herself, A Young Wife's Book,The New Book of Two Hundred Pictures excerpts.

4) Abolition and Woman's Rights. The close links between the abolition movement, particularly its Garrisonian wing, and the woman's movement have longed been noted. Here we look first at how those links found expression at the first National Woman's Rights Convention and then at the ensuing controversy between Jane Swisshelm and Parker Pillsbury over whether the fledging woman's movement should sever those links. Materials: Convention Proceedings; Swisshelm, editorial on Worcester Convention,Saturday Visiter [sic]; Pillsbury, letter to the editor [Swisshelm], Swisshelm, editorial on Pillsbury letter.

5) Fashion and Dress Reform. Scholars have often seen the fashionable dress for women of the mid-nineteenth-century as both symbol and embodiment of woman's restricted "sphere." Few ideas associated with the "emancipation" of women were as controversial as dress reform. Why was this so? Materials include: Elizabeth Smith Miller, account of the invention of the "Bloomer" costume; Harper's New Monthly Magazine, fashion report on the "Turkish Costume"; Songsheets including "The Bloomer's Complaint" and "The New Costume Polka"; Punch (as reprinted in Harper's) , "Woman's Emancipation"; Fashion Plates fromGodey's Ladies Book (1850); Harper's New Monthly Magazine, "Important for Husbands."


Some Overall Working Questions: