Women on the Move


Linking literature, history, geography, and gender. Finding scholarly resources beyond the classroom. Working for excellence in oral and written communication.

Monday-Wednesday 10-11:30 120 Dennison
Julie Ellison jeson@umich.edu
3259 Angell Hall, 763-4639 (during office hours)
4080 Fleming, Office of the V.P. for Research, 763-6048 (all other times)
Office hours: Mondays 8:30-10, Wednesdays 12-1:30 3259 Angell
and by appointment 4008 Fleming


They're not cheap. I'm sorry!

Course Pack from Kolossus Copy ("CP" on Syllabus) Pick up at 1212 South University (in the Galleria)

Books at Shaman Drum only, 315 South State St., upstairs

  • Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History MIT Press (1995) required
  • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (1785-1812) A Midwive's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 Vintage, required
  • Catherine Maria Sedgwick (ed. Mary Kelley) (1827) Hope Leslie, or, Early Times in the Massachusetts Rutgers University Press, required
  • Margaret Fuller (1840s) The Essential Margaret Fuller (ed. Jeffrey Steele) Rutgers University Press, required
  • Harriet A. Jacobs (ed. Jean Fagan Yellin) (1861) Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself Harvard University Press, required
  • Mary Seacole (ca. 1860) The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands Schomburg Library of 19th Century Black Women, required
  • Anna Deavere Smith Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 Anchor 1994 recommended


  • Lectures on Mondays (usually).
  • Be sure to bring the assigned text to lectures--discussion will follow, and I like to refer to particular passages.
  • Long reading assignments for Mondays--use the Thurs-Sunday interval wisely!
  • Discussion, special projects, or field trips on Wednesdays.
  • Homework should be handed in at the start of class on the day indicated.
  • I can tape-record class on religious holidays for students who will be absent. Please talk to me in advance.


Weds 9/9 Introduction of Key Issues: Gender, Place, Mobility, Genre, History

Mon 9/14 Hayden, Power of Place, chs 6-7

Weds 9/16 Power of Place

Mon 9/21 Phillis Wheatley background material, poems and letters (CP)

Weds 9/23 Wheatley's poems

Mon 9/28 The Journal of Madam Knight, Sarah Kemble Knight, and the Introduction and "August 1787" sections of The Midwive's

Tale (to p. 71). In reading The Midwive's Tale, be sure to consult the appendix and notes. Closely scrutinize all of the maps and illustrations listed after the Table of Contents, especially, for today, the reproduction of the diary pages on pp. 22-23.

Weds 9/30

  • Field Trip
  • Visit to the Grad Library Map Room 8th floor.

    We will focus on Map Room resources that will help us understand both Knight's journey and the nature of Ballard's geographical mobility.

Mon 10/5 The Midwive's Tale chs. 2, 4, 5, 6,10, Epilogue. The dialogue between the diary and the historian: What is the historian's relationship to archival texts, and to diaries in particular? Be sure that you are able to describe the appearance and organization of the diary text itself.

Weds 10/7

Video Showing (in our regular classroom)
followed by discussion: PBS movie of The Midwive's Tale

Mon 10/12 Hope Leslie vol 1 (through p. 169).

Weds 10/14 Field Trip: Visit to Clements Library

Mon 10/19 Hope Leslie vol 2 (to end): Discussion class, not the usual Monday lecture

Weds 10/21 Midterm: identify short passages by author and title, discuss them in relation to the key themes of the course, paying close attention to style, genre and language.

Mon 10/26 Evangeline (CP) Imagining the continent through the mind of a woman

Weds 10/28

Field Trip Meet in Computer Lab

Literary history on the web: small group investigation of web sites related to Longfellow's Evangeline and other works

Mon 11/2 Steadman, selection from The Tidy House and other works (CP)

Weds 11/4 In-class workshop on final paper

Mon 11/9 Margaret Fuller Summer on the Lakes in The Essential Margaret Fuller (focus on sections dealing with Native American, women on the frontier, and landscape).

Weds 11/11

  • Field Trip
  • Visit to Bentley Library (North Campus)

Mon 11/16 Selection from Kirkland, A New Home, Who'll Follow? (CP)

Weds 11/18 Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, pp. xii-xxxvi, 1-4; illustrations 209-220, Chronology and Correspondence, 223-252.

Mon 11/23 Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl through ch 28 (p. 147) Final Paper Topic due today: 1 paragraph describing what works you will be discussing and why, what issues you will take up, and your work plan

Weds 11/25 Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl to end (p. 201)

26th-27th Thanksgiving Break--take Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands with you in the car or on the plane!

Mon 11/30 Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands through ch 11 (p. 113)

Weds 12/2 Draft of first 5 pp. of your final paper due in class. Small group discussions in class about final papers. Come prepared to summarize your topic, your argument, and your research, and to seek the group's help on any knotty issues that have arisen.

Mon 12/7 Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands to end

Weds 12/9 Conclusion: What to Remember?

Mon 12/14 Final Paper Due (10 pp.) by noon in my English Department mailbox


  • Web Introduction for Great Humanities Researchers without a lot of Spare Time
  • How to Read a Novel By Thinking Structurally and Functionally
  • The Higher Grammar: Return to the sentence
  • Studying Novels for Structure and Function (in which novels become like molecules, cells, tidal pools, or hurricanes)
  • Handout on final paper project


Class Conventions: We will start exactly at 10:40. The first ten minutes of the class often contain crucial announcements. Attendance is required, and important. Since we will be visiting a number of sites on campus (including some on North Campus) you will need to make sure ahead of time that you can find the class location and will be able to get there on time. You will be expected to uphold the English Department's plagiarism policy (to be handed out).

Written Work: Success in this class depends on three things: a) keeping up and keeping engaged with the reading; b) coming to class (wherever class might be that day) prepared to talk about specific issues and passages in the texts at hand; and c) the quality of your written work.

Please type or print written work with a new ribbon. You should use a 12 pt. font and double-space everything, with margins no greater than 1". Proofread your work, too, please. Do use your "SpellCheck" program, if you have one, but don't rely on it exclusively. I am always delighted to receive a paper with legible hand-written corrections on it. In addition to the assigned reading and written work, you are responsible for assiduous class attendance, preparation, and participation. Since I am imperfectly organized, you also need to keep hard copies of all written work you hand in. If you are ill and will not be in class, please let me know in advance via an E-mail message. I subtract one full letter grade from late work unless, under extraordinary circumstances, you have made another arrangement with me in advance.

I do take into account essayistic skill--style, argument, exemplification--in grading all papers. The quality and extent of your class participation count for 15% of your grade. Written assignments consist of the following:

2 Surprise quizzes (20%) to check on how well people are keeping up with the reading and to make sure that people are listening during field trips

Homework and In-class Writing (20%) All homework is graded.

Midterm (15%) identify short passages by author and title and discuss them in relation to the key themes of the course and with close attention to style, genre, and language.

Final Paper Project (30%) The final paper project includes the one-paragraph topic statement, the 5-page draft, and the paper itself, with appropriate footnotes and "Works Cited" page. You may choose the text you write your paper on from the list below. Texts that you do not already have will be put on reserve. You may compare or otherwise connect this text to other works we have read during the term. Your argument should deal with how literary works deal with women's actions and perceptions in specific historical and geographical settings. This need not be a research paper, but you should make sure that you know something substantive about the author's life, career, and the history of her time and place.

Close readings of at least 8 passages required. Your goal in all close readings should be to pick passages that are so interesting that you can write three times as much about them as they are long. If you quote one sentence, therefore, you should be able to find three sentences worth of interesting things to say about it. And of course you should use the close readings to move your analysis elegantly forward. If you are anxious about your writing, be sure to seek help early on from me and/or the Writing Center in Angell Hall. I will distribute a list of the 10 works you may choose from.