April
6th 2009
Women’s History Month wrap-up

Posted under: book reviews, Gender, GLBTQ, women's history

bennetthistorymattersThanks to all of you who participated in our Women’s History Month book club discussion of Judith Bennett’s History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism.  (Just in case you’ve missed our discussions, here they are:  Parts I, II, III, IV, and V.)  This post is an open thread to solicit your comments on our discussion, and advice for doing another book club in the future.

I ran this by Tenured Radical over our lunch in Seattle a few weeks ago, but I wondered if we shouldn’t have published our comments not as four stand-alone commentaries on Bennett’s book, but rather as a conversation among the four of us on four different topics raised by the book.  (That is, a transcription of a ”conversation” over e-mail that we’d each take a segment of to edit and post on our blogs.)  I enjoyed the book club, but it felt like some comments were landing on our blogs from outer space, rather than being a part of an ongoing conversation.  (By this, I don’t mean it is the fault of the commenter in most cases–it’s more a problem with the technology and format.)  I suppose another way to address this problem would be to liveblog the book club–this would necessarily exclude some for whom the time doesn’t work, but it would be a way of fostering more of a conversation among the commenters who are free to participate.  Even more exclusive would be to set up a space on the blogs that would require registration so that only people who affirmed they had read the book could participate–we would surely have fewer people, but perhaps a more in-depth conversation.

If you wanted to participate but didn’t, what could we have done to include you?  If you participated but were frustrated, what should we have done better?

And with that, we now return to our regularly scheduled men’s history for the other eleven months of the year!

9 Comments »

9 Responses to “Women’s History Month wrap-up”

  1. Susan on 06 Apr 2009 at 11:59 am #

    I think I liked the way you did it, rather than trying to smooth it out in advance. Each of you posted a slightly different response, which in turn generated a different reader response. It would have been fun to have scheduled one or two live blogging sessions, though.

    I haven’t gone back to reread the whole thing, but I do think the conversation moved over time, which is good. And yes, there were some outlier comments, but that’s to be expected.

  2. Indyanna on 06 Apr 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    No complaints whatsoever, it was great. The only thing rising even to a critique is that I initially thought you might have some method of linking the four blogs together at the thread level, so that one could follow all five weeks from the same familiar place. In one or more instances, unfamiliar technical protocols for commenting, under circumstances of limited time, might have dissuated a comment or two. But mostly, once my spring break ran out in the second week, it was a question of finding time to keep the reading moving along. So maybe just announcing the thing a bit farther in advance, to give people more time to get prepped. All in all, however, it was a great use of a dull month!

    Oh, yeah; maybe get a national network contract and hire one of those NCAA guys with the hair weaves to blare out the pregame strategy and do halftime commentaries! :)

  3. Digger on 06 Apr 2009 at 9:02 pm #

    I truly enjoyed the discussions, and reading both the original posts and the responses, even those that seemed out of left field (how many of those were from folks like me, who are not specifically historians?). They all got me thinking. I’d hate to be excluded because I’m not an historian and/or because I hadn’t read the book ahead of time and/or because my schedule didn’t match a scheduled liveblogging. I also liked the non-liveblogged aspect, as it gave me time to think about things before posting (or to decide not to post).

    Even though I’m not the book’s target audience, I did find much in there of interest. In fact, reading the book and the blog discussions have directly affected the questions I’m asking of data for one of my current projects.

    I’m not even sure how I stumbled onto the discussion, but I’m glad I did. Thanks again to all.

  4. Evie on 06 Apr 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    I mostly read rather than posted, but found found all the discussions stimulating and thought-provoking as they developed across the different blogs. It would perhaps have focused some of the discussion/comments a bit more if each of you had taken on one of the main themes of the book (as you mention doing above in the form of an edited email discussion), but whether by planning or serendipity, it worked out well anyway.

    My only other suggestion would be for a bit more notice in advance for the next one. I stumbled across the discussion during its first week and although I had read History Matters, it was at least a year ago and I didn’t feel confident enough in my memory of it to comment on some of the specific points raised.

    A huge thanks to everyone involved – I learned a lot.

  5. Knitting Clio on 07 Apr 2009 at 6:12 am #

    Overall, I think the discussions worked quite well. I suggest that next year as the final installment, you solicit contributions from various bloggers and then compose a carnival of replies.

  6. Notorious Ph.D. on 07 Apr 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    Well I, for one, am enormously relieved that we’ve gotten Women’s History Month out of the way, so we can get back to studying real history.

  7. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    Thank the goddess! Er, I mean the Patriarchal Vengeful Irrational Old Testament Hater God Who Is Definitely Fer Sure a Manly God. And who probably looks an awful lot like Lawrence Stone.

    Bring it!

  8. Jeremy Young on 07 Apr 2009 at 8:00 pm #

    If you wanted to participate but didn’t, what could we have done to include you?

    Graded papers for me so I’d have time to even read substantive posts, let alone write any myself. Grr.

  9. Breana on 09 Apr 2009 at 11:06 am #

    I, too, mostly read and ruminated, popping in and out of the discussions. Would love to go back and read all a bit more thoroughly though. Perhaps when the semester is over? As a doc student in education (with a mere BA in history ;) I really rounding out my own work/research with views on feminism, equality, etc. from other perspectives. So, even though I’m only an amateur historian, I really enjoyed the posts!

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