Origins of "New Woman" Term Disc./May & June 1997


Origins of "New Woman" Term Disc./May & June 1997

Query From Inna Shtakser 26 May 1997

Hello...I wondered whether anyone could help me about the origins of the expression "the new woman." I traced it to 1869, but I'm pretty much sure I saw it used in 1867. Am I mistaken or has somebody else seen it used before 1869? Thanks for your help.


From Herbie DiFonzo 28 May 1997

The term "new woman" has made many stage entrances in American history, each time as if for its opening line. In my book, _Beneath the Fault Line: The Popular and Legal Culture of Divorce in America in Twentieth-Century America_, I discuss the use of the term in the 1920s. But the term is a recurring trope in historiography.

In her delightful book, _Bicycles, Bangs, and Bloomers: The New Woman in the Popular Press_, Patricia Marks presents the new woman of the 1880s and 1890s. In her _Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America_, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg discusses the social and sexual personae of the new woman from the 1870s to the 1930s. Hope these references help set the context.

From Maria Elena Raymond 29 May 1997

The question of the "New Woman" term has come up before on this list in the form of requests for fiction and other writings about the "New Woman." I would suggest checking the H-Women web page site and looking through the "New Woman" syllabus listed there. I'm not sure it will have what you need, but perhaps it might help. The URL is Best wishes.

From Stacey Freeman 10 June 1997

For a good overview of the evolution of the term "New Woman" in Britain see Ann Ardis' _New Women, New Novels: Feminism and Early Modernism (1990). She argues the term was coined by Ouida in 1894. On the "New Woman" in Germany, see Atina Grossmann's _Reforming Sex_(1995).