The Education of the Southern Belle
Higher Education and Student Socialization in the Antebellum South
The American South before the Civil War was the site of an unprecedented social experiment in women's education. The South offered women an education explicitly designed to be equivalent to that of men, while maintaining and nurturing the gender conventions epitomized by the ideal of the Southern belle. This groundbreaking work provides us with an intimate picture of the entire social experience of antebellum women's colleges and seminaries in the South, analyzing the impact of these colleges upon the cultural construction of femininity among white Southern women, and their legacy for higher education.
Christie Farnham investigates the contradiction involved in using a male-defined curricula to educate females, and explores how educators denied these incongruities. She also examines the impact of slavery on faculty and students. The emotional life of students is revealed through correspondence, journals, and scrapbooks, highlighting the role of sororities and romantic friendships among female pupils. Farnham ends with an analysis of how the end of the Civil War resulted in a failure to keep up with the advances that had been achieved in women's education.
The most comprehensive history of this brief and unique period of reform to date, The Education of the Southern Belle is must reading for anyone interested in women's studies, Southern history, the history of American education, and female friendship.
"A highly readable investigation of [the] mores and systems of education that prepared women for a life of the mind, while at the same time indoctrinating them for conventional roles as wives and mothers."
"Farnham has uncovered a wealth of information about a virtually untouched topic."
—Joan Hoff, Professor of History, Indiana University, Co-editor, The Journal of Women's History
New York University Press is proud to make many of our titles available in eBook editions. Below is the list of vendors that carry our titles in electronic format. Each vendor has its own pricing and delivery policies. Please follow the links below for more information.
Please list your name, institutional affiliation, course name and size, and institution address. NYU Press will cancel exam copy orders if information cannot be verified.