Thesis: Nearly every woman during these early years was either a member or creator of numerous organizations on campus in order to encourage social networking in their search for legitimacy, acceptance, and security in a patriarchial society.

I. Introduction

II. Patriarchy Sucks—
•    Why didn’t women have legitimacy?- men were threatened by women’s academic excellence
•    Why didn’t they have acceptance?- messing up natural order; abnormal: Microcosm, Women excluded from men’s organizations; Housing Segregation, Excluded from library?; Restrictions for women on campus
•    Why didn’t they have security?- If you can’t gain legitimacy and acceptance, you are going to be inherently insecure, both physically and emotionally
•    The more barriers that were set against women, the harder they fought to overcome them.  These women obviously had to be bold in order to not relent to men’s constant oppression.
III. The Female Dickinsonian’s response
•    Early Organizations
•    Omega Chi
•    Pi Beta Phi
•    Harman Literary Society→ playful irony of name
•    Motivated by exclusion
•    Infiltration of Dickinson cultural propaganda – if they can change what people read (Microcosm), they can change the way people think.
o    women attempted to reshape the ideology of the culture by controlling the propaganda which proliferated the cultural acceptance of oppression (false consciousness)

IV. Conclusion

So I’m writing my proposal on the evolution of women’s voice and status on campus from 1887 to 1907, at least I hope. So far, my main source has been the student handbooks given out at the beginning of each year, which tell what organizations were present on campus, as well as advice for incoming students. However, the handbooks are only the tip of the iceberg. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what other sources I should investigate in order to get a better angle? I was thinking of looking in the minutes of the Harman Society and the two female “fraternities,” as well as searching for correspondence from faculty on the subject. Any other ideas? What secondary sources do you think would be useful?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Hope everyone’s proposals are going well. Thanks again!

Being a history major, I’m no stranger to the dangers of Wikipedia research. However, as I am sure most people will admit, in private research, Wikipedia is the most convenient source of information.
So as I was sitting around with my friends Friday afternoon after classes had finished, we got to talking about superstitions and where they come from. One of the most common, at least in my upbringing, was the whole “knock on wood” phenomenon. While I have instinctively done this for most of my life (along the lines of “what could it hurt?”), I never knew where the saying came from. So I decided to look it up on Wikipedia, and here is the explanation of origin I recieved: “It is commonly thought that knocking on wood has been a superstitious action to ward off evil throughout history involving Pagan belief systems. The same reference claims that knocking on wood is also used in some form of Christianity, but in a different context, where the wood represents the cross. In an alternate explanation, the wood represents the rosary.”

To this quote, there were two footnotes. The first one led me to a site called “Mystical World Wide Web,” which featured two paragraphs anonymously written about the “mystical” origins of the practices. Obvious BS. The second note led me to the “Rosary Workshop,” an online retailer of rosaries and other Church related items.

Something told me my leg was being royally pulled, so I looked up “knock on wood” on Google. The third search item was from a site called, a British site about the origins of all those funny sayins we have in this language. According to this site, the term “knock on wood” has its origins in Ireland, where “it used to be considered good luck to tap trees to let the wood spirits within know you were there.” In Britain, it was the name of a childhood game during the 18th and 19th Centuries. In America, the use of this strange superstitious practice used to stave off bad luck dates back to at least 1908, when an article in the Indianapolis Star wrote “He is a promising looking youngster, and once we get on velvet (knock on wood!) the New York fans will get a chance to see him in action. When that time comes (knock on wood again!) it is more than likely that he will not disappoint.”  One can only guess whether I chose to believe Wikipedia or

I just found this little incident funny and revealing, and I thought I would share it with everyone. I hope everyone enjoys their spring break, and I’ll see you next week.


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