From Publishers Weekly
Will her B.A. ruin her chances for an M-r-s.? Will too much study endanger her procreative organs? And if higher education is truly safe for a young woman, what sort of curriculum is appropriate? Greek and Latin? Home economics? According to Peril (Pink Think
), in this history of women in colleges, ever since the first young ladies went off to their "dame schools" in early America, people have been debating such questions. Underlying these mentionable fears was one more worrisome: who would protect a girl's virtue when she lived away from home, surrounded by hormonal young men? As Peril makes clear, throughout history "[a]dults inevitably get their granny-sized panties in a bunch when it comes to the sexcapades of the younger generation." True, she's focused on prescriptive material more than the actual experiences of co-eds in various eras, but it's eye-opening to see how consistently advice-givers and advertisers have played on the same few anxieties regarding the female student. The material that Peril has included on student experiences—particularly the stories of women at historically black colleges—helps balance the text. Peril's witty, irreverent style, her generous use of old advertisements and photos and her careful footnotes make this text unusually user-friendly. (Aug.)
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Peril follows Pink Think
(2002) with another witty and humorous look at women's history. This time she takes her interest in pop culture and feminism onto the college campuses of the past, and the result is a book packed with information on everything from dress codes and etiquette to sororities and "woman--oriented curriculum." In the midst of ads from companies such as Borden asking, "Do college girls make better wives?" Peril offers serious discussions of the numerous rules and regulations applied to women from the moment of acceptance until graduation and questions of race. She has also uncovered society's view of female education, coming up with such sterling quotes as this from the New York Times
: "The terrors of Greek, the intricacies of mathematics, the mysteries of psychology--all pale before the laborious tolls of the laundry course, which requires good, stout muscle and a cheery heart rather than quick wits and a vocabulary." Researchers and pleasure readers alike will find a great deal to appreciate in Peril's fresh and engaging work. Colleen MondorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved