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week 4 short responses


During the second week of Theme: Communicating Historical Ideas, you have been asked to respond to several questions designed to show your understanding of key historical concepts. Now it is time for you to submit your responses to those questions.

First, review your answers to each response. Check for errors and incomplete answers, and make sure you have used proper grammar throughout. If you have not completed any of these questions, do this now. When you are finished reviewing and editing, follow the instructions at the bottom of the page to download your work and submit it to your instructor.

Here are the Week 4 Short Response exercises:

Week 4 Short Responses – Question 1

  • Your best friend
  • People reading a newspaper editorial you’ve written
  • Your professor
  • The audience at a conference where you are presenting

Week 4 Short Responses – Question 2

Consider how your audience might influence the information you include in an historical analysis essay about the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

What audience would be most interested in reading about the women’s movement? How would you tailor your presentation to that audience? What message would be most appropriate for this audience?

Week 4 Short Responses – Question 3

Let’s say the intended audience for your historical analysis essay about the legal battle for women’s suffrage is a group of civil rights lawyers. How would you explain the legal background of the Constitution and the Nineteenth Amendment? How would this approach compare and contrast to an audience of high school students?

Week 4 Short Responses – Question 4

Was President Kennedy’s decision to support the Equal Rights Amendment a necessary cause for the amendment’s passage by Congress?

Week 4 Short Responses – Question 5

Was the social tumult of the 1960s a necessary cause of the women’s liberation movement?

Week 4 Short Responses – Question 6

Simone de Beauvoir was the intellectual founder of the women’s liberation movement. Tailor this thesis statement into a message suitable for an audience of high school history students.

Week 4 Short Responses – Question 7

The women’s movement’s focus on issues related to sexual freedom, including reproductive rights, galvanized support among many younger women, but it cost the movement support among many older and more socially conservative women. Tailor this message for an audience consisting of students in a Women’s Studies class.

When you are talking to someone in person, chances are, you probably adjust your manner of speaking to match whomever you are speaking with. When writing, you should make the same considerations for those who will be reading your paper. As you prepare to write anything—whether it is an email, cover letter, or college essay—you want to first consider your audience. Simply put, when writing, your audience is your intended reader.

In order to communicate effectively and clearly, you need to understand that different audiences respond to and understand different messages. In this course, you need to choose an intended audience for your historical analysis essay and cater your writing to that audience.

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In this learning block, you will:

  • Be introduced to the concept of audience in academic writing
  • Learn about the different types of audiences you might tailor your historical analysis essay toward
  • Practice catering to certain audiences in your writing
  • Understand the role of research and analysis in developing message
  • Consider your choice of audience for your historical analysis essay


Who is the audience for your essay? Although the obvious answer might be “my instructor,” that’s not the only thing that audience means for the purposes of this assignment. Your instructor will read and grade your essay, but the audience of the essay is who you decide to speak to or cater to. Sometimes, it is not always clear who your audience might be, as you may have multiple audiences. You will need to choose an audience to write for in your historical analysis essay.

The audience you choose to write for is a group of people who might be attracted to or interested in your writing. Knowing who they are will help you understand their expectations for the content and format of your paper.

The content and tone of an essay on the impact of the introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment in Congress in 1923 will be different if you are writing for students or for professionals, for instance. Your choice of audience will influence how much background information you include about anti-ERA movements, for example. Writing for a specific audience will help you narrow the focus of your historical event analysis.


By analyzing your audience, you will be able to write and argue more effectively. Some things to consider about your audience are who they are, how much they know about the topic, and the context in which they will be reading the writing (such as a journal or a magazine).

In general, you can think of your audience as being either academic or nonacademic. Knowing this about your audience will help you tailor your message and content of your essay and other writing. Of course, an audience can be a combination of the two.

An academic audience includes your instructors, other people in the field, and fellow students. An academic audience will be reading your paper for a grade or to evaluate the strength of your thesis and argument. They will probably have a critical eye toward the structure and details of your essay. When writing for this audience, you should consider what they might expect, such as well-supported argument. A nonacademic audience will be reading the paper to gain information and use the information they learn.

The graphic below shows what you should consider when thinking about the audience you are writing for. Reflecting on the following questions may help you think more clearly about your audience in this course and future courses at SNHConsidering Your Audience

  • What information, as it relates to what I’m writing, does the audience already know?
  • Is my audience more familiar or unfamiliar to me? Do I know them well? Do they know me well?
  • Is there anything about which I am writing that needs explanation?
  • Will my audience expect me to be casual, friendly, familiar, or professional in my writing?


In a classroom setting, you know your audience is your instructor and, often, your classmates. In this case, you know your intended audience (your instructor and your classmates), but your relationship with them is more formal and less familiar. As such, you cannot assume what level of familiarity they can expect in your writing.

Therefore, you should err on the side of formality any time your audience is unfamiliar and/or when the level of formality they expect from you may be unknown. When you write for a classroom assignment, you should always assume your instructor will expect a level of formality—unless the assignment explicitly asks you to be informal—regardless of how well you might know him or her.

It is, therefore, important to understand if your audience is:

  • familiar and known: a family member, a close friend, your partner or spouse
  • unfamiliar and known: an audience who has come to listen to you talk about a shared interest (you share knowledge of the interest but do not known them personally), your college instructor (you know your instructor and are familiar with her but you do not know what she knows and does not know about any given topic), a new colleague, your boss, a distant relative, museum attendees
  • unfamiliar and unknown: your new classmates, a random group of people listening to a public speech, blog readers


Types of Audiences


Audience Types




By now you should have a beginning idea of what your thesis statement and argument will be in your essay. Once you analyze and get to know the audience you are writing for (or choose to be writing for), you will have a clearer understanding of what message to convey in your essay, which is closely related to your thesis. Knowing your audience allows you to select which details to include and which to leave out. Understanding their level of knowledge on the topic will help you decide how much information to include, how formal or informal your writing should be, and how subjective you should be in your writing.

When considering your audience, also remember why you are writing. The purpose of your writing is tied to the audience you are writing for. You should think about what you are trying to accomplish in your writing. For example, in your historical event analysis essay, you will be attempting to answer your research question by making an argument that ties back to your thesis statement.

Some things to consider about your audience when writing your paper:

  • Will the audience expect you to cite scholarly sources? (In this course, the answer is yes!)
  • Will the audience understand technical terms or jargon?
  • How much background information will the audience know about the topic?
  • Will the audience expect a particular format or point of view? (When writing for a class, it is usually best to check what formatting the instructor prefers.)

As the writer of your essay, you need to communicate your message in a way that is tailored to your specific audience. You could consider your vocabulary, your audience’s potential current knowledge of historical events, or lack thereof, and what is specifically important to the audience. Will your audience understand historical terminology and principles associated with your event, or will you need to explain these? All of these questions should be considerations when forming the message of your historical analysis essay. Crafting a succinct and clear message will make you a better writer in future courses, and in your day-to-day life as well.



Lucretia Mott, by Joseph Kyle. (Click button for citation)

In July 1923, just before the 75th anniversary of Seneca Falls Convention, Alice Paul announced that she would propose a new amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee the same legal rights to women and men. Originally known as Mott’s Amendment in honor of Lucretia Mott, one of the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention, Paul’s proposed amendment led to a sharp division in the feminist movement.

Supporters of the amendment, led by Paul’s National Women’s Party, argued that women should be legally equal with men in all respects. Opponents argued that strict equality would require the repeal of protective labor legislation designed to benefit women workers by, for example, requiring them to work shorter hours or exempting them from night work. In general, middle-class feminists tended to favor Paul’s amendment while working-class feminists—and organized labor in general—tended to oppose it. (Cott, 1990)

Congress was not quick to embrace Paul’s amendment. Indeed, it took nearly 50 years before a version of the proposal—by then known as the Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA—won Congressional passage in 1972. And, while the path to ratification initially looked clear, opposition by social conservatives quickly surfaced; ten years later, the ratification deadline expired and the Equal Rights Amendment had been defeated. (Burris, 1983)

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This learning block uses the debate over the Equal Rights Amendment as the vehicle to sharpen your skills of historical analysis and to help you think about tailoring your message for different audiences.


In this learning block, you will:

  • Develop a thesis statement for the analysis of a historical event
  • Practice crafting and identifying messages for different audiences
  • Practice examining a scholarly journal article
  • Continue to work on your writing plan


    The ERA, in varying forms, was introduced in every session of Congress from 1923 until 1971, but it was routinely bottled up in committees and never even received a floor vote until after World War II.A pro-ERA march in Florida. (Click button for citation) In the early 1950s, the division among feminists became apparent when the “Hayden rider” was attached to the ERA. This provision would have preserved the protective labor legislation deemed so important by many labor unions, and many working-class women, at the time. Such legislation included laws that mandated a minimum wage, or prohibited long hours or night shifts, for women workers.Because these laws assumed that women were “different” from men—in the sense of being “weaker” or more in need of special protection—they were vehemently opposed by the National Women’s Party. As long as the ERA included the Hayden rider, Paul and the NWP opposed its passage.The Republican Party was the first to embrace the ERA. The GOP national platform first included a plank in support of the ERA in 1940, and President Dwight Eisenhower publicly called for the amendment’s passage in 1958. But the combination of firm opposition from organized labor, and feminist opposition to the Hayden rider, continued to block the amendment’s passage. (Frum, 2000)Democrats, with closer ties to organized labor, were slower to embrace the ERA. Although John F. Kennedy endorsed the amendment late in the 1960 campaign, he did not push for its passage after winning the White House.Kennedy did take a number of steps favored by women’s rights activists: he appointed a blue-ribbon national Commission on the Status of Women, which lobbied successfully for passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which banned sex discrimination in pay for many professions. He also issued an executive order banning gender discrimination in the civil service. But most of his women appointees, including Commission chair and feminist icon Eleanor Roosevelt, had ties to the labor movement and opposed the ERA. (Wolbrecht, 2000)The amendment’s prospects improved considerably in the mid-1960s, as women’s rights activists began to make common cause with civil rights activists, and the rise of a new and more activist “women’s liberation movement” focused on a wider range of issues of concern to women.In 1964, Congress banned workplace discrimination based on gender (as well as race, religion and national origin), in the Civil Rights Act; the inclusion of women in the Act reflected, among other factors, the concerted lobbying of Coretta Scott King, wife of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the NWP’s Alice Paul. While the women’s rights movement and the civil rights movement did not always see eye-to-eye—and tensions between the two would become evident in the late 1960s—their cooperation during the debate over the Civil Rights Act was a critical moment for both.Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (Click button for citation) In 1966 feminist author Betty Friedan—whose 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, had given voice to the frustrations of millions of American women—helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW) and co-wrote the organization’s Statement of Purpose. NOW, she wrote, would lead “a new movement toward true equality for all women in America, and toward a fully equal partnership of the sexes,” and would ” confront, with concrete action, the conditions that now prevent women from enjoying the equality of opportunity and freedom of which is their right.”NOW, which would formally endorse the ERA in 1967, became the driving force in the Representative Martha Griffiths of Michigan (Click button for citation) Coming at a time of profound social and political change in America—a convergence of the civil rights movement, protests against the war in Vietnam, the rise of the counterculture, and the so-called “sexual revolution”—the demand for equal rights for women suddenly seemed less radical than it had, only a few years earlier. (Frum, 2000) Organized labor, for the most part, dropped its opposition, and political leaders of both parties, including President Richard M. Nixon, publicly embraced the ERA.In 1970 Representative Martha Griffiths of Michigan spearheaded a movement to “discharge” the ERA from the House Judiciary Committee, where it had languished for years. Once given the opportunity to vote on the ERA the full House of Representatives approved it overwhelmingly in 1971. The Senate followed suit in 1972 and before the year was out, 22 states had approved it—more than half the total of 38 states needed for formal ratification. The ERA, it seemed, would soon be enshrined in the Constitution.



The ERA’s apparently smooth glide-path to ratification hit severe turbulence in the mid-1970s. In 1972 Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative activist and former Republican Congressional candidate from Illinois, founded the STOP ERA campaign, an effort by socially conservative women to derail the amendment. STOP was an acronym for “Stop Taking Our Privileges,” and Schlafly frequently focused on the impact that the ERA would have on laws designed to benefit women: protective labor laws, alimony and child-custody laws, and the exemption of women from the military draft.

ERA opponents at a legislative hearing in Tallahassee, Florida. (Click button for citation)

Opponents of the amendment often cited the labor movement’s primary criticism: that the ERA would take away protective labor laws that women, especially working-class women, badly needed. But they did not address just working women; indeed, STOP ERA made the case that the amendment was essentially designed to benefit younger career women, while stripping away protections that older women—housewives and mothers without marketable job skills—could not do without.

The emphasis on alimony, as well as on the ERA’s impact on Social Security benefits, was a direct appeal to the economic insecurity of many older housewives. More generally, Schlafly and her supporters argued that the ERA, by equalizing the treatment of both sexes, would economically benefit men at the expense of older, unskilled women. (Levenstein, 2014)

But economic arguments were only one element of the larger public campaign against the ERA. The assertion that ERA would expose women to the perils of the military draft resonated strongly—not just among younger women but among their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers—in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War. Opponents also focused on what they portrayed as traditional values, arguing that mandating equality between the sexes would disrupt families and upset the social order. These arguments were frequently cited by ERA’s opponents in the U.S. Senate, a vocal majority of mostly Southern social conservatives led by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina. Ervin, who successfully lobbied the North Carolina legislature to vote against ratification, argued that it would be the “height of folly to command legislative bodies to ignore sex in making laws”. (Ervin, 1977)

ERA opponents showed a flair for political symbolism: they presented state legislators with apple pies while declaring themselves “for Mom and apple pie,” and they pinned signs reading “Don’t Draft Me” on the onesies of baby girls. And their efforts quickly had an impact: as conservative opposition to the ERA grew, the pace of ratification slowed dramatically. After 1973 only five more states approved the amendment, leaving it three states short of the required 38.

With the deadline for ratification approaching, Congress in 1978 approved a three-year extension of the process, but it was not enough: the clock ran out on the ERA in 1982.

As the following video suggests, the inability of ERA supporters to win quick ratification of the amendment gave opponents time to organize an effective opposition campaign against it. The STOP ERA campaign took the amendment’s supposedly simple and uncontroversial goal—”Equality”—and showed it to be more complex and controversial than many people had previously imagined.

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While Phyllis Schlafly’s opposition was a major factor in the defeat of the ERA, there were larger forces at work, as well. Less than a year after the amendment was approved by Congress the Supreme Court, in culture wars.” The phrase, coined by sociologist James Davison Hunter and popularized by conservative commentator and politician Pat Buchanan, refers to the continuing conflict in American politics between traditionalists and progressives over issues—such as gay rights, gun control, and prayer in school—that speak to personal values rather than economic self-interest. (Hunter, 1991)

The term “culture wars” first came to prominence in the early 1990s, and in many ways this conflict continues to influence American politics, on issues from gay marriage to health care to immigration policy. But the social conflicts that would give rise to the culture wars had their roots in the 1970s; in the eyes of many historians, the ERA may have been the first casualty of this long-simmering battle.


If the first wave of American feminism was devoted to the idea of political equality—most specifically, winning for women the right to vote—the

Simone de Beauvoir (Click button for citation)

It’s impossible to say exactly when or where the second wave of American feminism began, but there is general agreement among historians as to its formative influences. The publication of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex in 1949 provided a historical and critical analysis of the causes of women’s inequality, and inspired a generation of feminist writers and activists including Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, and Germaine Greer. (Baue

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