A Good Day

November 10, 2003


After a lot of whining early on, I have had a good writing day. I feel much better about the changes to chapter three. I was able to tighten the first third without garbling the chronology - mostly because I took a section that was already out of chronological order and moved it earlier in the chapter. I know what I am going to do to tighten the rest of the chapter, and while I still have to do it I now feel confident that I will be able to do it. Confidence is half the battle.

I was also able to prep class for tomorrow. The kids are reading parts of the Beecher-Grimke debate and writing a softball homework: "Who did you find more compelling, Beecher or Grimke?"

We will discuss that, then I have a prepared lecture on sentimental culture, abolitionism, the antebellum women's movement, and the Seneca Falls convention. If we have time I will go over some details of Jackson's Presidency and discuss Richard John's argument that Richard Mentor Johnson's response to Sabbatarians pushed religious reformers into the anti-Jackson camp. From there I will be able to introduce the Whig party in time for us to do a political history lecture on Thursday.

As I was reviewing for class I was amused to note that Catherine Beecher was arguing in 1837 for a vision of gender roles much like the one that Kim and Connie Du Toit visibly regret. The difference is that in 1837 Beecher was articulating a new understanding of a traditional division of labor, changing the meaning of the division while continuing the form. In 2003 the Du Toits seem to want to continue the meaning while changing the forms. Beecher, you see, argued that while men engaged in active political debate and worldly deeds, women should abstain, not because they were weak but so that they could gain moral force over men by exerting the soft compulsion of love. The Du Toits are arguing, in part, that while women should engage in active political debate and pursue (almost) any job field they desire, women retain an inherent civilizing and nurturing function which must remain distinct from male roles.

However, all of this work came at the expense of writing job letters, grading homework, or planting bulbs in the garden. Ah well, if I had everything, where would I put it?

Posted by Red Ted at November 10, 2003 10:43 AM | TrackBack