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A lecture from an American History class

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Listen to audio recording and answer the questions.

Narrator
Listen to part of a lecture from an American History class.

Prof: Most scholars agree that women have been short-changed in United States history textbooks. Because a woman has never been a, uh, US president or a commander -- a major commander, anyway -- in a war, these scholars argue that historians have, um, overlooked or ignored the contributions women have made to US history. In recent years, though, a new view of women's history has emerged. It's called "women-centered history," and it's forcing historians to re-interpret traditional pictures of key historical events. Now they're looking at ways women contributed to history "behind the scenes," if you will. For instance, though they didn't fight in wars or occupy the political stage, women formed organizations in places such as churches and clubs, where they discussed ideas and learned skills that would later lead to their emergence in the historical spotlight. Um, Jane Addams is one good example of this. She founded houses for poor people in Chicago, and was an original member of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU. She lobbied government for the rights of workers and women, which paid off in 1920 when women received the right to vote. In 19... uh, 1931, she became the first American women to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Women-centered history starts with the premise that females played an important part in shaping US history, and that gender is a, um, worthy historical distinction. This perspective is different from past models of studying women in US history. One of the first models is called the contribution approach, which concedes that men played the leading historical roles but demonstrates that women were vital "supporting actresses" at every landmark historical event. While this was certainly true, the contribution approach has been criticized because it highlights only the bravest and brightest women, and it also neglects the social role of women in everyday family life. Another [false start] a second historical model is called the victim approach, which emphasizes how men have oppressed women throughout history. Um, although obviously true, it tells only part of the story. It also tends toward emotionalism, overly dramatizing women's plight. Critics charge that under the victim approach, the only women who stand out are the unusual ones, such as the famous Salem "witches" of the seventeenth century. The rest are weak, helpless victims of a male-dominated world.

Women-centered history tends to balance the contribution and victim approaches. Instead of asking, "How have women have helped men?" or "how have men oppressed women?", it asks simply, "What have women done?" Now, in one sense it still gives only a partial picture, because it examines history from only one perspective, but in another sense it gives a fairer and more complete portrait of US women's past than the previous two models. One historian, named Gerda Lerner, says women-centered history tells how women have survived and contributed in a male world "on their own terms." Ms. Lerner claims that women-centered history best portrays the balance of interaction between women's oppression and women's power. I'm not sure about that, but I do know one thing. It has compelled historians to see certain historical processes in a new light, such as the, eight -- er, nineteenth century temperance movement, and the prohibition movement of the twentieth century.

As feminist scholars keep studying the history of US women, more new approaches are likely to develop. For example, there are still several sub-categories of women's history to consider, such as labor history, social status, the history of women in minority cultures, and so on. There are also class divisions, race divisions, ethnic divisions and religious divisions. Finally, there is the history of women's interactions with other women, not just with men.

1

What is the main topic of the lecture?

2

Why does the professor mention Jane Addams?

3

According to the professor, what is one problem with contribution approach?

Listen again to part of the passage and answer the following question.

4

What does the professor imply when he says this: "I'm not sure about that..."?

5

Which of the following describes the victim approach to US History?