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Political Ideas – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

4. Darwinism in America

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module we consider the role of Darwinism in American political and sociological thought during Gilman’s lifetime, focusing in particular on: (i) contemporary American interest in evolutionary science and the impact of Darwin; (ii) Social Darwinism and its relation to capitalism; (iii) Reform Darwinism and its relation to the concept of human agency; (iv) Reform Darwinism as an intellectual basis for progressive reform; (v) Gilman’s understanding of patriarchy as an evolutionary phase and her arguments for an expansion in the rights of women on this basis.

Course

In this course, Dr Rachel Nolan (Manchester Metropolitan University) considers the life and works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In the first module, we offer some biographical context for the following discussion of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as well as an outline of her key works and ideas. Then, in the second module, we explore the concept of socialism as it relates to Gilman’s thought, as well as thinking about her nationalist views. In the third module, we add depth to the discussion by considering Gilman not only as a feminist, but as a specifically socialist feminist. In the fourth module, we consider the role of Darwinism in American political and sociological thought during Gilman’s lifetime, and highlight Gilman’s “reform Darwinist” understanding of patriarchy as an evolutionary phase and her arguments for an expansion in the rights of women on this basis. In the fifth module, we consider how a range of feminists (including Simone de Beauvoir and bell hooks) have built upon, responded to, and critiqued Gilman’s thought. Finally, in the sixth module, we conclude by recapping Gilman’s key arguments for gender equality, and reflecting on the extent to which these arguments remain relevant today. This course is particularly relevant to the Non-Core Political Ideas: Feminism section of the AQA and Edexcel A Level Politics specifications.

Lecturer

Dr Rachel Nolan is a Lecturer in American Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University. She previously taught at the University of Manchester and Pennsylvania State University. She recently edited the Broadview critical edition of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1898 feminist treatise 'Women and Economics', and her research examines the practices and possibilities of women’s professional activities in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Nolan, R. (2022, September 15). Political Ideas – Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Darwinism in America [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/political-ideas-charlotte-perkins-gilman/darwinism-in-america

MLA style

Nolan, R. "Political Ideas – Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Darwinism in America." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Sep 2022, https://www.massolit.io/courses/political-ideas-charlotte-perkins-gilman/darwinism-in-america

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