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Living Ideas Paperback – 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Gloria Bowles (2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0615321461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615321462
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,825,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I loved reading this vivid, sometimes lyrical writing about exertion and loss. I was studying on the UCB campus at the same time, in the same department as Bowles, and tangentially connected to this story --but I had absolutely no idea of the knock down drag out drama being played out to found women's studies. I recommend this book to anyone interested in women's studies and women working with other women,--in this instance, in the seventies. It's also a general coming of age story about an idealistic young woman academic learning that it's a tough world out there, that as some of us used to joke: "sisterhood is sorrowful".

It's not a pretty picture yet it is, somehow, -- out of Bowles' exertions and disappointments, emerges a lasting institution, a women's studies department at the University of California, where no such thing had existed. But it is a story of disappointment and perceived betrayal, finally a coming to grips, through writing, with unexpected and unprepared for personal defeat. At the same time we see loyalty and devotion among women friends and colleagues. It's a nuanced development.

But what really is surprising and compelling is the level of detail, drawn from extensive journal entries over many years. Bowles' personal life, her marriage ending, her passionate friendships with women, is deftly interwoven with the detailed women's studies drama--sometimes a wild ultra-democracy in action-- in terms of the amount of power given over to the program's students--before the real powers made the key decisions; Bowles dramatizes being a woman of that time, consciously breaking with the constraints of a traditional midwest upbringing and devoting herself to work, even over-work, thus an underlying theme of burn-out... This is a sympathetic and persuasively honest memoir.
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By mary on October 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
In the early seventies, there were few tenured women faculty in the university, where in truth most study was
"Men's Studies"; the contributions of women to history, literature, and social life were ignored. This is the first and only memoir by a founding coordinator of women's studies. Gloria Bowles organized many others to lobby not only for a major but for courses and faculty in this new field. She also conceived and edited "Theories of Women's Studies" (with Renate Klein), a text used by thousands of students and faculty in the U.S. and Europe to argue for the new discipline and its feminist methodologies.

As a memoir, "Living Ideas" is not just "academic." Bowles takes us behind the scenes to watch how women worked together cooperatively to create a new field -- though she does not spare us the tense moments of conflict and competition. Just as important is her weaving of the political and the personal, her friendships and love affairs. And what comes through again and again is her love of writing and the difficulty of getting to her own work in the midst of the turmoil at Berkeley. She draws upon the journals she kept for decades to bring these stories alive.
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