History

Westward the Course of Empire: Exploring and Settling the American West

Westward the Course of Empire: Exploring and Settling the American West

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In the nineteenth century, the exploration and settlement of the West exploded. During the 58 years between the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War, the United States expanded from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, and, in the far West, from the 32nd Parallel to the 49th. By the late 1850s, almost all of these areas had been mapped and explored. Among the many iconic maps featured in this catalogue, which accompanied an exhibition at the Grolier Club, is Lewis and Clark's map of the Northwest. Published in 1814, it remained the standard against which all mapping of that part of North America was measured for decades.
When Women Ruled the World

When Women Ruled the World

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The sixteenth century in Europe was a time of chronic destabilization in which institutions of traditional authority were challenged and religious wars seemed unending. Yet it also witnessed the remarkable flowering of a pacifist culture, cultivated by a cohort of extraordinary women rulers--most notably, Mary Tudor; Elizabeth I; Mary, Queen of Scots; and Catherine de' Medici--whose lives were intertwined not only by blood and marriage, but by a shared recognition that their premier places in the world of just a few dozen European monarchs required them to bond together, as women, against the forces seeking to destroy them, if not the foundations of monarchy itself.

Recasting the complex relationships among these four queens, Maureen Quilligan, a leading scholar of the Renaissance, rewrites centuries of historical analysis that sought to depict their governments as riven by personal jealousies and petty revenges. Instead, When Women Ruled the World shows how these regents carefully engendered a culture of mutual respect, focusing on the gift-giving by which they aimed to ensure ties of friendship and alliance. As Quilligan demonstrates, gifts were no mere signals of affection, but inalienable possessions, often handed down through generations, that served as agents in the creation of a steep social hierarchy that allowed women to assume political authority beyond the confines of their gender.

"With brilliant panache" (Amanda Foreman), Quilligan reveals how eleven-year-old Elizabeth I's gift of a handmade book to her stepmother, Katherine Parr, helped facilitate peace within the tumultuous Tudor dynasty, and how Catherine de' Medici's gift of the Valois tapestries to her granddaughter, the soon-to-be Grand Duchess of Tuscany, both solidified and enhanced the Medici family's prestige. Quilligan even uncovers a book of poetry given to Elizabeth I by Catherine de' Medici as a warning against the concerted attack launched by her closest counselor, William Cecil, on the divine right of kings--an attack that ultimately resulted in the execution of her sister, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Beyond gifts, When Women Ruled the World delves into the connections the regents created among themselves, connections that historians have long considered beneath notice. "Like fellow soldiers in a sororal troop," Quilligan writes, these women protected and aided each other. Aware of the leveling patriarchal power of the Reformation, they consolidated forces, governing as "sisters" within a royal family that exercised power by virtue of inherited right--the very right that Protestantism rejected as a basis for rule.

Vibrantly chronicling the artistic creativity and political ingenuity that flourished in the pockets of peace created by these four queens, Quilligan's lavishly illustrated work offers a new perspective on the glorious sixteenth century and, crucially, the women who helped create it.

WOMAN: THE AMERICAN HISTORY OF

WOMAN: THE AMERICAN HISTORY OF

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A comprehensive history of the struggle to define womanhood in America, from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century

"Exhaustively researched and finely written."--Alexandra Jacobs, New York Times

"An intelligently provocative, vital reading experience. . . . This highly readable, inclusive, and deeply researched book will appeal to scholars of women and gender studies as well as anyone seeking to understand the historical patterns that misogyny has etched across every era of American culture."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

What does it mean to be a "woman" in America? Award-winning gender and sexuality scholar Lillian Faderman traces the evolution of the meaning from Puritan ideas of God's plan for women to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and its reversals to the impact of such recent events as #metoo, the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the election of Kamala Harris as vice president, and the transgender movement.

This wide-ranging 400-year history chronicles conflicts, retreats, defeats, and hard-won victories in both the private and the public sectors and shines a light on the often-overlooked battles of enslaved women and women leaders in tribal nations. Noting that every attempt to cement a particular definition of "woman" has been met with resistance, Faderman also shows that successful challenges to the status quo are often short-lived. As she underlines, the idea of womanhood in America continues to be contested.