Would you sign up for Catherine's class?


Over the summer, Catherine taught a course in her home called The Fall of American Civilization (heavy, right?). Enrollment was light, but the conversation was intense! We are thinking of offering the class once more and wanted to avail Catherine's syllabus. What do you think? Would you take her class? What module would you want to discuss?



The Fall of American Civilization
Modules I & II

Professor Catherine Croll
Summer 2014

This course will examine what it means to be a woman in the United States in 2014. We will start with an overview of the women’s movement and move onto social and political issues that have affected the way women are perceived, defined, and represented in the media today (by themselves and by others). Through an analysis of both classic and contemporary feminist texts and films we will explore where (and how) women’s liberation and empowerment has fallen flat. We will focus on how 21st century events like September 11th, the internet, and social networking, continue to transform relationships between the sexes. These ideas will be based on those expressed in my books, Women Always Call Free: Pornography and the Corruption of American Feminism and Cruel Appetites: Internet Pornography, September 11th, and the Rise of Degradation as Entertainment.

Assigned readings for Module III: The Invasion of Privacy: Reality Television and Social Networking will be handed on separately on a later date.

Please complete all assigned reading and be ready for discussion. Final papers (8-10 pages, double-spaced) will be due on August 27, 2014.


Module I: Gender Roles and Relationships

Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W.W. Norton, 1963. Print.

“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—‘Is this all?’”

Schlafly, Phyllis. The Power of the Positive Woman. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1977. Print.

(Chapters 1-3)

“The differences between men and women are also emotional and psychological. Without woman's innate maternal instinct, the human race would have died out centuries ago....The overriding psychological need of a woman is to love something alive. A baby fulfills this need in the lives of most women. If a baby is not available to fill that need, women search for a baby-substitute. This is the reason why women have traditionally gone into teaching and nursing careers. They are doing what comes naturally to the female psyche. The schoolchild or the patient of any age provides an outlet for a woman to express her natural maternal need. ...The Positive Woman finds somebody on whom  she can lavish her maternal love so that it doesn't well up inside her and cause psychological frustrations. Surely no woman is so isolated by geography or insulated by spirit that she cannot find someone worthy of her maternal love....”

Beauvoir, Simone de. The second sex;. [1st American ed. New York: Knopf, 19531952. Print.

“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

Bulbeck, Chilla. "Explainer: feminism." The Conversation. The Conversation Trust (UK), 6 July 2014. Web. 24 Sept. 2014. 

Slaughter, Anne-Marie. "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 13 June 2012. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.

Module II: Cruel Appetites: Torture Horror and Sadistic Porn

Levy, Ariel. Female chauvinist pigs: women and the rise of raunch culture. New York: Free Press, 2005. Print.

“Women's liberation and empowerment are terms feminists started using to talk about casting off the limitations imposed upon women and demanding equality. We have perverted these words. The freedom to be sexually provocative or promiscuous is not enough freedom; it is not the only 'women's issue' worth paying attention to. And we are not even free in the sexual arena. We have simply adopted a new norm, a new role to play: lusty, busty exhibitionist. There are other choices. If we are really going to be sexually liberated, we need to make room for a range of options as wide as the variety of human desire. We need to allow ourselves the freedom to figure out what we internally want from sex instead of mimicking whatever popular culture holds up to us as sexy. That would be liberation.”

Clover, Carol J.. Men women and chainsaws: gender in the modern horror film. London: BFI, 1992. Print.

“The ‘art’ of the horror film, like the ‘art’ of pornography, is to a very large extent the art of rendition of performance, and it is understood as such by the competent audience. A particular example may have original features, but its quality as a horror film lies in the way it delivers the cliché.” 

Sarracino, C., & Scott, K. M. (2008). The porning of America: the rise of porn culture, what it means, and where we go from here. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press.

“The events at Abu Ghraib became the subject of a national discussion in which Americans tried to come to grips with how our soldiers, the good guys, we like to think, could commit acts that ranged from abuse to torture—and even to murder….Most porn, as immoral and destructive as many Americans believe it to be, is still less frightening than what we saw in those photos. Describing the photos as porn condemned them at the same time that it placed the acts they document in the realm of the merely distasteful rather than of war crimes”

Carpenter, John. (Director). (1978). Halloween (Film). USA: Compass International Pictures.
Roth, Eli (Director). (2005). Hostel (Film). USA: Lions Gate Films.
Stockwell, John (Director). (2006). Turistas. USA: Fox Atomic.


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