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HON 1000: ‘Going Steady?’: Documenting the History of Dating in American Culture, 1940-1990 (Anderson/Fall 2016)

This Week's Assignment

Assigned articles

  • Click on the article's link to get to the article.
  • If you are off-campus, you will be asked for your Campus ID and password first.
  • Click on "Download PDF" to get the article.

Everyone should read:

Beth Bailey, “From Front Porch to Back Seat: A History of the Date”

If you are a "1," also read this article:

Kathy Peiss, “Charity Girls and Cheap Pleasures”

If you are a "2," also read this article: 

Rona M. Wilk, “‘What’s a Crush?’: A Study of Crushes and Romantic Friendships at Barnard College, 1900-1920”

If you are a "3," also read this article:

Eleanor Alexander, "The Courtship Season: Love, Race, and Elite African American Women at the Turn of the Twentieth Century"

Note that several of these articles are outside of our time period (1940-1990). They're meant to introduce themes that we'll be continuing to talk/read about over the course of the class, and to give you ideas for possible topics. 

See below for other examples of possible topics. You aren't limited to these topics! They're just meant to get you thinking. 

In-Class Exercise: All Groups

Discussion! Will involve writing on the whiteboard wall.

For all three articles, be thinking about:
What are the girls/young women in these articles doing (or being?)
How do the conditions of these girls’ lives contribute to their actions?

Think also about:

Class and income (socioeconomic status)

Race

Sexual orientation

Consent

In-Class Exercise: Kathy Peiss, “Charity Girls and City Pleasures”

Peiss, Kathy. “Charity Girls and City Pleasures.” OAH Magazine of History 18, no. 4 (July 1, 2004): 14–16.

  1. What kinds of things are these girls doing?
  2. Do these actions sound like "calling"?
  3. Are they staying home? Where are some places that they’re going?
  4. Is money involved?
  5. Are they having sex? (If they are, might they be prostitutes?
  6. Do they think they’re prostitutes?

 

Photo: Clara Bow, in IT (1927), after a night out at Coney Island WITH HER BOSS.
Click on the image for a clip of their date showing "treating" in action (and how amusements parks could be sexy. Hint: underwear will be shown.

In-Class Exercise: Rona M. Wilk, "'What's A Crush?'"

Wilk, Rona M. “‘What’s a Crush?’ A Study of Crushes and Romantic Friendships at Barnard College, 1900-1920.” OAH Magazine of History 18, no. 4 (July 1, 2004): 20–22.

  1. What kinds of things are these girls doing?
  2. Do these actions sound like “calling”? 
  3. Are they staying home? Where are they?
  4. Is money involved?
  5. Are they having sex? (Do we know?)
  6. Do they think they're having sex?

Photo: Ye Taming of Ye Shrew performance, 1905. Barnard College Digital Archives. Click for larger image.

In-Class Exercise: Eleanor Alexander, "The Courtship Season"

Alexander, Eleanor. “The Courtship Season: Love, Race, and Elite African American Women at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.” OAH Magazine of History 18, no. 4 (July 1, 2004): 17–19.

  1. What are these girls doing (or being)?
  2. What are they being told to do? (Is that a different question?)
  3. Do these actions sound like "calling"?
  4. Are they staying at home? How near are they getting to the men they are involved with? 
  5. Are they having sex?
  6. Speaking of sex: what role do future children play in these women's lives? Why are these women's children in particular described as important?

 

Image: Text from E. Azalia Hackley, "Introduction," Colored Girl Beautiful (1916). Click on image for full-text reproduction of this volume at HathiTrust (a highly reputable digital-book library based at the University of Michigan). 

Topic Possibilities: Add Your Own?

Some ideas to get you thinking about topics:

  • Integrated (or segregated) proms
  • Debutante balls or cotillions
  • LGBTQ dating
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Date rape
  • Dating abuse
  • "Going steady"
  • Birth control
  • Interracial dating
  • Sex education
  • Double standard
  • Virginity pledges

Some ways you can narrow your topic:

Focus on a particularly defined group of people:

  • Race
  • Class
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religious belief

Focus on a particular geographic region, for example:

  • the South
  • Atlanta
  • New York
  • (and so on...  be aware that, outside of Georgia, large metropolitan areas may be easier to research)

Focus on a particular time period (historians are always thinking about "change over time"!):

  • World War II era
  • Postwar era (often also called Cold War era, due the rise of the Cold War following World War II)
  • or a particular decade: 1950s, 1980s, and so on