Hannah Arendt, “Reflections on Violence”

It is, I think, a rather sad reflection on the present state of political science that our language does not distinguish between such key terms as power, strength, force, might, authority, and, finally, violence—all of which refer to distinct phenomena. To use them as synonyms not only indicates a certain deafness to linguistic meanings, which would be serious enough, but has resulted in a kind of blindness with respect to the realities they correspond to. Behind the apparent confusion lies a firm conviction that the most crucial political issue is, and always has been, the question of Who rules Whom? Only after one eliminates this disastrous reduction of public affairs to the business of dominion will the original data concerning human affairs appear or rather reappear in their authentic diversity.

Source : The New York Review of Books, February 27, 1969 Issue

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Janet Abu-Lughod, “Discontinuities and Persistence: One World System or a Succession of Systems”

Category : Sociology, Women

I’ve recently published a book on the world system in the thirteenth century, entitled Before European
Hegemony. It was intended in pan as a corrective to Immanuel Wallerstein’s work on the sixteenth century et seq. world-system. My criticism was that Wallerstein, while creatively extending the work of other historians and correcting for some of their biases, had still accepted the main line of western historical scholarship: namely, that the “story” becomes interesting only with the “Rise of the West” after 1450.

Source: Manuscript, The New School for Social Research (1990)  

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Kenneth Craven, “Greenwich Village and the Soul of a Woman (on Clara Mayer)”

Category : Urban Studies, Women

Clara Meyer, the heart, brains and soul of the New School for Social Research from 1919 until 1960 hired me as registrar, that is, bean counter, during those early WWII years while I was attending Columbia College and awaiting my call up in the U.S. Army Reserve Corps. She wore her black hair in maiden halo braids and could hardly see across the desk through the thickest glasses; from the first moment of that first interview, I stared wide-eyed at alma mater to the School. She herself had become the institution which thankfully lacked overbearing administrators and comfortable tenured faculty. An institutionless institution!

Source: New School Archives (2001)

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Jennifer Firestone, “How to Treat a Woman”

Category : Women, Writing

hips, thighs, hindquarters
grapefruits in grocery bags
skin cells
osteoporosis, presbyopia
Snow won’t fall in that crystal ball
fur, face, chin
A peep is a sound
Bed, sciatic
muscle, sex
color, sweat.
The package tape ran out years ago
By six years
outlives every species
except birds
(flight syndrome)
She’ll need a slow hand a slow hand

Source: Feminist Studies 29.1 (2003): 199

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Mary Henle, “Gestalt Psychology and Gestalt Therapy”

Category : Psychology, Women

The purpose of this paper is to try to set the historical record straight while the history in question is still in the making. lt seeks to clarify the relations between gestalt therapy and Gestalt psychology, from which the therapy claims to derive. In considering gestalt therapy, I will confine myself to the work of Fritz Perls, the finder, as he calls himself, of this therapy (Perls 1969/1971:16), with emphasis on his later books.

Source: Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences  14: 23-32

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 Karen Horney, “Culture and Neurosis”

Category : Psychology, Women

In the psychoanalytic concept of neuroses a shift of emphasis has taken place: whereas originally interest was focused on the dramatic symptomatic picture, it is now being realized more and more that the real source of these psychic disorders lies in character disturbances, that the symptoms are a manifest result of conflicting character traits, and that without uncovering and straightening out the neurotic character structure we cannot cure a neurosis. When analyzing these character traits, in a great many cases one is struck by the observation that, in marked contrast to the divergency of the symptomatic pictures, character difficulties invariably center around the same basic conflicts.

Source: The American Sociological Review, Vol. 1, No. 2, April 1936

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Doris Humphrey, New Dance: Writings on Modern Dance

Category : Arts, Women

My dance is an art concerned with human values. It upholds only those values that make for harmony and opposes all forces inimical to those values. In part, its movement may be used for decoration, entertainment, emotional release or technical display; but primarily it is composed as an expression of American life as I see it today.

Source: NJ: Princeton Book Co., 2008

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Gerda Lerner, “Placing Women in History: Definitions and Challenges”

Category : History, Students, Women

In the brief span of five years in which American historians have begun to develop women’s history as an independent field, they have sought to find a conceptual framework and a methodology appropriate to the task. The first level at which historians, trained in traditional history, approach women’s history is by writing the history of “women worthies” or “compensatory history.” Who are the women missing from history? Who are the women of achievement and what did they achieve? The resulting history of “notable women” does not tell us much about those activities in which most women engaged, nor does it tell us about the significance of women’s activities to society as a whole.

Source: The Majority Finds its Past (1981)

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Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past

Category : History, Women


While still an undergraduate at the New School I offered my first course in Women’s History, “Great Women in American History” in the fall of 1962.

Source: The Majority Finds Its Past (1979)

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Gerda Lerner, “Woman as Slave”

Category : History, Students, Women

Historical sources on the origins of slavery of slavery are sparse, speculative and difficult to evaluate. Slavery seldom, if ever, occurs in hunting/gathering societies but appears in widely separated regions and periods with the advent of pastoralism, and later agriculture, urbanization, and state formation. Most authorities have concluded that slavery derives from war and conquest. The sources of slavery commonly cited are: capture in warfare; punishment for a crime; sale by family members; self-sale for debt and debt bondage. Slavery is the first institutionalized form of hierarchical dominance in human history; it is connected to the establishment of a market economy, hierarchies, and the state. However oppressive and brutal it undoubtedly was for those victimized by it, it represented an essential advance in the process of economic organization, an advance upon which the development of ancient civilization rested. Thus, we can justifiably speak of  “the invention of slavery” as a crucial watershed for humanity.

Source: The Creation of Patriarchy (1986)

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Gerda Lerner, “Living in translation”

Category : History, Students, Women

When I came to the United States in 1939 as a refugee from Hitler fascism, I had, like all refugees, a very problematic relationship with the English language. On the one hand, I wanted desperately to learn English and to speak it well. This was my meal ticket, absolutely essential if I was to get work. On the other hand I felt a responsibility to uphold, treasure and keep intact the integrity of the German language which fascism had stolen from me, as it had stolen all my worldly possessions. The Nazis spoke a language of their own – first a jargon of slogans and buzz words; later the language of force and tyranny. Words no longer meant what they said; they meant what the Nazis intended them to mean, and so, gradually, they became empty of meaning. Like banners flapping forever in the wind, they flapped around the skeleton of German speech until all that could be heard was the clattering words pretending to meaning they could not encompass. Seen in that light, it was the obligation of every antifascist German-speaking refuge to uphold the old language, so that some day it might be restored.

Source: Why History Matters (1997)

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Clara Mayer, “Culture Conflicts and Recent Intellectual Immigrants”

Category : Education, Sociology, Women

In the ultimate sense of education and of culture, there can be no conflicts. Education is the dynamic life process that makes us bearers and builders of culture; competent and independent contributors toward understanding life and carrying it forward on its various levels, physical, intellectual, and moral. When experimental physics turns up a fact in conflict with the body of physical doctrine, it is nothing more than a new and interesting problem, an area demanding more concentrated ndeavor. Apparent culture conflicts are similar temporary stages on the way to a larger culture, a life with more content, individuals more capable of coping with it and enjoying life.

Source: Journal of Educational Sociology 12.8 (April 1939): 470-475

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