Week 10 Reading Guide

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Monday Class

1) May, Chapters 4 and 6

Remember as you read to always be considering how the chapter fits into May's larger argument. Here are some questions to guide you:

• In Chapter 4, May writes about various sexualities that are deemed in need of "containment" during the early Cold War. What sexualities in particular does she address? How does she attempt to bridge this public/private divide between the Cold War and sexuality?
• What are the "containment strategies" devised at the time for these supposed "out of control" sexualities?
• How are the roles of the homemaker and "traditional marriage" deemed necessary for Cold War security?
• What is the "reproductive consensus" described by May in Chapter 6? How does child rearing become a civic value? What is the role of the father and mother in the "reproductive consensus"?
• In chapter 6, what are the dominant views of birth control and abortion in the fifties? How do they fit what May calls the "reproductive consensus"? How are these views related to "sexual containment" described in Chapter 4?

Wednesday Class

1) May, Chapters 7 and 9

Remember as you read to always be considering how the chapter fits into May's larger argument. Here are some questions to guide you:

• In Chapter 7, how does the suburban home become a weapon in the Cold War? How does the government itself support the construction of the suburb and "suburban sprawl"? How was this construction of suburban neighborhoods, and the construction of certain types of houses in the suburbs, related to the Cold War?
• In Chapter 7, how were race, class, and gender contained in the suburb?
• In Chapter 7, May argues that the suburban ideal promised more than it could deliver. What does she mean by this? Why was the lifestyle "rife with tension"? Finally, was anyone resisting this lifestyle in the fifties? On page 166, she says basically "no." Do you agree?
• In Chapter 9, why does May argue that The Feminine Mystique was so important in breaking down the ethos of domestic containment? Why did it, and those who responded to it, lash out at so-called "experts" in the Cold War?
• On page 207, May writes that domestic containment "was clearly doomed from its own internal contradictions." What does she mean by this? Besides these "internal contradictions," what else brought about the demise of domestic containment in the sixties?
• Does Elaine May personally support the ideology of domestic containment she argues for in Homeward Bound or is she critiquing it? For instance, in Chapter 6, does she personally support the "reproductive consensus" that raising children and family planning are civic values related to the Cold War? What, ultimately is her personal opinion regarding domestic containment and why is it sometimes hard to discern this?

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This page contains a single entry by Jason Stahl published on November 2, 2012 10:25 AM.

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