Dissertation Abstract-AMENDING NATURE: THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT AND GENDERED CITIZENSHIP IN AMERICA, 1920-1963

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.

Book Review: Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings (1998)

Book Review: Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1998).

In Atlantic Crossings, Daniel Rodgers discusses American social politics from the Gilded Age through the New Deal. In the process, he uncovers the international roots of social reforms such as city planning, workplace regulation, rural cooperatives, municipal transportation, and public housing. For Rodgers, ideas shaped progressive social politics while individuals carried those ideas back in forth across the Atlantic. Rodgers examines an array of sources, including doctoral dissertations, magazine and newspaper articles, books, and public documents, to describe the tapestry that was trans-Atlantic world of social politics in the Progressive Era.[1] Ultimately, Rodgers seeks to unearth a distinct trans-Atlantic period in America’s past.[2]

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Escape from Los Angeles? A Look at Mike Davis’s City of Quartz

On the surface Los Angeles seems to be a beacon for dreamers. Here, the conventional myth recites, Cinderella realities are constructed on Hollywood back lots. The ugly become beautiful, the poor become rich, and the undesirable becomes desirable. In all, it appears, Los Angeles is the epicenter of the American dream. Yet, these Cinderella realities are quickly dismissed when one digs below the glimmering surface. In his work, City of Quartz, Mike Davis examines the socioeconomic history of Los Angeles. Moreover, Davis pulls the curtain back from the L.A. fairytale by showing us that the city is anything but an emerald city. Specifically, Davis looks at how physical and social space contribute to the formation of communal identities. In particular, Davis draws attention to Los Angeles’s culture industry, architecture, and power structures. In Davis’s illustration, Los Angeles is depicted as an “economic colony” for the globalized World economy.[1] Furthermore, for Davis, the City of Angels is a melting pot for various social and racial tensions. Importantly, this melting pot is on the verge of boiling over.

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