Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1980


"To me, real feminism means working together with other people to try to change the balance of power and wealth, working for everybody's right to human dignity."—Inmate at Massachusetts Correctional Institute, Norfolk

With all the problems of getting women's history accepted in traditional institutions, why try to introduce it in an environment that we could expect to be unsympathetic? The idea, when it was first suggested to us, sounded improbable.

As we discussed it, possibilities began to emerge. We were each giving courses at Boston University on women's history in America: one emphasizing the economic and social aspects, the other using a historical and literary approach. We could easily collaborate on an interdisciplinary course. Such a course would provide a new way of looking at American life for men who had reason to question the American history they had learned in their school days. It would allow us to try our material with students of very different backgrounds from those of our college students. Since Boston University's Metropolitan College had been giving degrees at Norfolk, a medium-security prison, for several years, we would have the support of a successful, established program. One of us had been both teacher and administrator in the program for several years and knew how hard-working and challenging students who were inmates could be. The reasons for giving the course overcame our reservations, and we agreed to teach it in the spring of 1978.



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