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Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women&#039;s Movements - Linda Gordon, Astrid Henry - <span class="date-display-single">10/18/2014 - 3:00pm</span>

Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements

10/18/2014 - 3:00pm

Central Library - Community Room

In partnership with the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, the Wisconsin Book Festival presents Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry. The American women’s movement has been shrouded in myths, argue three leading scholars in this bold and revisionist history.


Eschewing the conventional wisdom that places the origins of the American women’s movement in the nostalgic glow of the late 1960s, Feminism Unfinished traces the beginnings of this seminal American social movement to the 1920s, in the process creating an expanded, historical narrative that dramatically rewrites a century of American women’s history. Also challenging the contemporary “lean-in,” trickle-down feminist philosophy and asserting that women’s histories all too often depoliticize politics, labor issues, and divergent economic circumstances, co-authors Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry demonstrate that the post-Suffrage women’s movement focused on exploitation of women in the workplace as well as on inherent sexual rights. The authors carefully revise our “wave” vision of feminism, which previously suggested that there were clear breaks and sharp divisions within these media-driven “waves.” Showing how history books have obscured the notable activism by working-class and minority women in the past, Feminism Unfinished provides a much-needed corrective.

Linda Gordon

About Presenter Linda Gordon


Linda Gordon was born in Chicago but considers Portland, Oregon, her home town. Her early ambition was to become a professional dancer but when she found she wasn’t good enough, she packed that in and went to college at Swarthmore. Then she did graduate study in Russian History at Yale, receiving a Ph.D. in 1970. She published her dissertation on the origins of the Zaporogian (Ukrainian) cossacks, but soon left that region behind to become one of a pioneering generation of historians of the US examining women and gender. An active participant in the women’s-liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, she and her long-time collaborator Rosalyn Baxandall edited two books providing crucial views of that movement’s contributions: America’s Working Women and Dear Sisters: Dispatches from Women’s Liberation.


Her biography of photographer Dorothea Lange, Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits, published by W.W.Norton in 2009, won many prizes: the Bancroft prize for best book in US history (making Gordon one of a very few ever to win this award twice); the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography; and the National Arts Club prize for best arts writing, to name a few. In the process of researching that book, she discovered an important group of Lange photographs long unnoticed and never published: photographs of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, commissioned by the US Army but then impounded because they were too critical of the internment policy. Gordon selected 119 of this images and published them, with introductory essays by herself and by historian Gary Okihiro, as Impounded: Dorothea Lange and Japanese Americans in World War II.


Feminism Unfinished: A Short Surprising History of American Women's Movements

Astrid Henry

About Presenter Astrid Henry


Astrid Henry is the author of the forthcoming Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements (W.W. Norton, 2014), a book co-written with historians Dorothy Sue Cobble and Linda Gordon.  Feminism Unfinished provides an expanded historical narrative to tell the dynamic story of U.S. feminism from the 1920s to the present day.


Astrid Henry is the Louise R. Noun Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at Grinnel College.  She is currently working on a book-length study of feminist subjectivity and historiography in memoirs by U.S. feminists since the 1970s. Her other scholarly projects include articles that address the televisual representation of feminism’s history on CBS’s Cold Caseand AMC’s Mad Men.


Professor Henry received her Ph.D. from the interdisciplinary Modern Studies Concentration of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's English Department. She received an M.A. from the New School for Social Research and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. From 2006-2012, Henry served on the Governing Council of the National Women’s Studies Association, holding the position of Secretary of the Association from 2009-2012.


Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements

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