[Changing Women, Changing History: A Bibliography of the History of Women in Canada. 2nd Ed]

By Ambrose, Linda M.; Pedersen, Diana | Resources for Feminist Research, January 1, 1998 | Go to article overview

[Changing Women, Changing History: A Bibliography of the History of Women in Canada. 2nd Ed]


Ambrose, Linda M., Pedersen, Diana, Resources for Feminist Research


This bibliography, an expanded second edition of Diana Pedersen's indispensable reference tool, is a reflection of the continued development of women's history in Canada. With almost 5,000 references, the new edition is not just bigger, but better. The improved indexing system (by author and by subject) makes it easier to find specific sources or particular writers and also to explore general themes. Since the first edition appeared in 1992, most teachers of Canadian women's history would testify that this has become their most consulted guide. For anyone preparing new courses in women's history or gender history, this is the place to start. Possibilities for reading lists and essay topics abound, and happily, with so much being published, the problem becomes one of trying to keep up with all of it. But Pedersen's new bibliography reflects more than just numeric growth.

Researchers and students of history will find the new mini-essays that introduce each section very helpful. In these pithy little pieces (usually four or five paragraphs in length), readers will get a sense of how the subject area has developed and the current debates that capture writers' attention. With reference to feminism, for example, Pedersen notes that "historians are moving beyond the problematic 'first-wave' and 'second-wave' model" because its implicit emphasis on discontinuity is at variance with research findings about the organizational activity that characterized the 1920s to the 1960s (p. 64). In addition, Pedersen pinpoints areas where few publications exist (World War One is much less studied than World War Two, for example). She even predicts some trends, noting for example that heightened interest among graduate students and recent organizational developments suggest that "the history of sexuality will emerge as one of the major growth areas in Canadian history over the next decade" (p. 187). Graduate students will find the bibliography useful, not just to prepare fields and papers, but to help them deduce which areas remain unexplored, underdeveloped, or in need of revisionist attention. Pedersen suggests, for example, that "recent interest in post-structuralist approaches and discourse analysis suggests the potential for future work" in the area of sport and physical education (p. 191).

The book is divided alphabetically into 19 theme sections, so that beginning with the table of contents, users can search out sources from arts, education, or ethnicity to sport, unions, or work. In most of these sections, there are further subdivisions -- evidence of more developed areas of women's history. For example, the section on "Families/Life Stages" contains entries of a general nature and demographic studies, but also girlhood, marriage, courtship, couples, motherhood, illegitimacy, aging, widowhood, etc. The section on "Work/Economy" is another example where publications abound, and eight different sectors of work are considered in addition to general literature on the topic. These are a reflection of the fact that women's history emerged as part of the social history that has dominated Canadian historiographic developments since the 1970s. …

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