Saturday, October 25, 2014

European History, Day 18

Suffragettes were force-fed in British prisons
On Thursday in European History Since 1648 at UNLV we discussed the experiences of women in European society during the long nineteenth century.  Building on our earlier discussions about the writings and advocacy of early feminists in 18th century Europe, we discussed how industrialization and the culture we associate with the Victorian era transformed gender relations.

Students had read two primary sources: a mid-19th century treatise on exemplary behavior for women in the household, and an early 20th century speech by British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.  We had a good discussion analyzing these two sources in the context of the broader shift in gender roles during our time period.

Pankhurst’s speech—worth a read—was also an argument in defense of the rights the disenfranchised to use violence (in this case against property), and so that afforded us an opportunity to think about politics—both the formal political realm made up of parties and state institutions, and movements that originated and worked outside of those established realms—during the 19th century. 

Next week will transition us into the twentieth century, and students are working their way through Jaroslav Hasek’s novel, The Good Soldier Svejk.  

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