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History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism Paperback – August 24, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0812220049 ISBN-10: 9780812220049

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (August 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780812220049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812220049
  • ASIN: 0812220048
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is a book that will help us think deeper, and better, about the history we practice and its impact in the world."—Laura Gowing, King's College, London

"This is a remarkable work, at once erudite, insightful, witty, provocative, and analytically brilliant. Bennett writes with narrative verve and energy that captures the reader in both her compelling argument and detailed evidence."—Bonnie G. Smith, Rutgers University

"Judith Bennett offers a striking analysis of the current state of feminist history. In a series of lucid chapters, she demonstrates the political and intellectual consequences of forgetting the past. This book should be required reading for every feminist who cares about the future."—Martha Vicinus, University of Michigan

"Bennett argues convincingly that our understanding of modern women's condition and contemporary feminist dilemmas must be rooted in the longue durée. From that perspective, we can develop a more nuanced and sophisticated analysis of the 'patriarchal equilibrium' that has so long constrained women's lives and efforts to transform them."—Nancy A. Hewitt, Rutgers University

"This book should be required reading for anyone who believes that studying history 'for its own sake' misses the inherent revolutionary potential of the enterprise."—Choice

From the Publisher

Judith M. Bennett is Professor of History at the University of Southern California. She is the author of numerous books, including Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England: Women's Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600 and Women in the Medieval English Countryside: Gender and Household in Brigstock Before the Plague. She is also the editor (with Amy M. Froide) of Singlewomen in the European Past, 1250-1800 (also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press). --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jamakaya on October 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this thoughtful critique of the current state of women's history and its feminist implications. "History Matters" by Judith M. Bennett presents an unapologetic feminist vision that is cognizant and respectful of all three "waves" of feminist thought/action at the same time that it chides some feminists for their historical blinders. Bennett challenges the historical profession on many fronts but is also committed to establishing high standards and producing sound research that will enlighten our understanding of the past and have practical application today.

I found most interesting (and a bit aggravating!) her survey of how women's history has morphed into the broader arena of "gender studies" over the past few decades and how the once seemingly clear concept of "patriarchy" has been replaced by less polarizing but rather tepid terms like "gender differences," often obscuring power dynamics and deleting critical agent(s). Her critique of "presentism" is compelling. She warns that the increasing focus by historians - including feminist historians - on 19th and 20th century history ignores the longer view and prevents us from identifying the continuities as well as the transformations which have occurred over millennia. Perhaps most illuminating is her promotion of the concept of "lesbian-like" to get a better handle on the lives and experiences of woman-identified women in the past. The narrow definition of sexual contact and the impossibility of proving it centuries later limits inquiry about women who may have been lesbians. Bennett urges a broadening of our criteria and analysis for identifying women who lived "like" lesbians that makes a lot of sense.

Over all, I especially appreciated the clarity of Professor Bennett's writing.
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