D-Day 70th Anniversary

By the end of 1943, Allied forces had succeeded in stopping the Axis powers’ advancement both in Europe and in the Pacific. Over the next two years, Allied forces seized the offensive and launched a series of powerful drives that helped them defeat the Axis powers.

Early in 1944, United States and British bombers began attacking German industrial installations and other targets almost round the clock. These attacks hampered German production and transportation. In addition, the massive bombing campaigns of the Allied forces devastated German cities such as Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin. For example, a February 1945 incendiary raid on Dresden created an immense firestorm that destroyed three-fourths of the previously undamaged city. The Dresden bombing killed approximately 135,00 people, almost all civilians.

Almost two years before the Dresden bombing, an enormous invasion force had started to gather in England. This force consisted of almost 3 million troops and a great array of naval vessels and armaments. On June 6, 1944, D-Day, General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces, sent this vast armada into action. The invasion force included British, American, and Canadian troops and they landed not at the narrowest part of the English Channel, where the Germans had prepared for them, but along sixty miles of the Cotentin Peninsula on the Coast of Normandy.

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Announcement: Degas and Cassatt Paired at the National Gallery

For those visiting or living in the Washington DC Metro Area, check out this fascinating exhibit at the National Gallery. The “Degas/Cassatt” exhibit will run through October 5th.

If you go see the exhibit, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section of this post. I plan to visit and write a review of the exhibit sometime this summer.

For more information on the exhibit see the following art review— Karen Rosenberg, “Friendship Was their Medium” New York Times 29 May 2014.

Draft Syllabus—Social Forces that Shaped America (Summer 2012)



Esteemed political scientist Benedict Anderson wrote that a nation is more than a political entity with geographic boundaries; it is an imagined community. As Anderson explains, it is “imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.”[1] For Anderson, a nation is a state of mind. Following Anderson’s definition, this course looks at the social forces that have shaped the imagined community that is America.

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Revising Dissertation into Book–Project Overview

Amending Nature: The Equal Rights Amendment and Gendered Citizenship in America, 1920-1963

This study illuminates the ideological contours of the conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from 1920 to 1963. Through a careful analysis of correspondence, public and private utterances, congressional testimonies, and several court cases this study unearths the dueling civic ideologies rooted in the struggle: emancipationism and protectionism. Emancipationists supported the ERA as the necessary conclusion to the Nineteenth Amendment. In short, emancipationists believed that the ERA fulfilled America’s political aspirations, as the amendment would ensure that men and women citizens enjoyed the same basic legal standard. In contrast, protectionists opposed the ERA as a threat to sex-based legal distinctions. From the protectionist perspective, American society rightly affirmed the separate roles of men and women citizens by differentiation in law. In the end, emancipationists and protectionists held different interpretations of the relationship between gender and citizenship. Emancipationists insisted that American political ideals upheld the right of men and women to participate as citizens on the same terms while protectionists maintained that true sexual equity demanded that the law be free to treat citizens differently on account of sex.[i] 

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This dissertation uncovers the competing civic ideologies embedded in the conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from 1920 to 1963.It identifies these ideologies as emancipationism and protectionism. Emancipationists supported the ERA as the logical and, indeed, necessary outcome of the Nineteenth Amendment. Protectionists, in contrast, opposed the ERA as a threat to sex-based legal distinctions. Through an examination of over-forty different manuscript collections as well as an array of government documents, especially the often-overlooked congressional hearings on the amendment, this study shows that men and women politicians, intellectuals, labor activists, reformers, and government officials all participated in the original ERA conflict. Moreover, the participants not only argued over women’s status; they also contested the nature of American citizenship.

Above all, this study contends that the original ERA conflict created America’s gendered citizenship. In short, the Nineteenth Amendment profoundly changed women’s relationship to the state; however, disparities in men and women’s positions persist even to this day, because protectionists modernized the justification for sex-based differential treatment. To this end, protectionists successfully advanced the contention that their position provided men and women citizens with the appropriate level of equality, which also preserved women’s traditional right to special protection. Ultimately, protectionists effectively refashioned full citizenship status to include separate standards for men and women citizens, but their triumph also created dual meanings for American citizenship that negated the doctrine of universal rights and responsibilities.

-Rebecca DeWolf, Ph.D.