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Mad Men and Working Women

Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness

Erika Engstrom, Tracy Lucht, Jane Marcellus and Kimberly Wilmot Voss

This book was featured as one of thirty-four Epic Feminist Books in Teen Vogue magazine.

This book offers interpretive and contextual tools to read the AMC television series Mad Men, providing a much-needed historical explanation and exposition regarding the status of women in an era that has been painted as pre- or non-feminist. In chapters aimed at helping readers understand women’s lives in the 1960s, Mad Men is used as a springboard to explore and discover alternative ways of seeing women. Offering more than a discussion of the show itself, the book offers historical insight for thinking about serious issues that «modern» working women continue to face today: balancing their work and personal lives, competing with other women, and controlling their own bodies and reproductive choices. Rather than critiquing the show for portraying women as victims, the book shows subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) ways that feminism functioned in an era when women were supposedly caught between the «waves» of the women’s movement but when, the authors argue, they functioned nonetheless as empowered individuals.
By doing so, it provides historical context and analysis that complicates traditional interpretations by (1) exploring historical constructions of women’s work; (2) unpacking feminist and non-feminist discourses surrounding that work; (3) identifying modes of resistance; and (4) revisiting forgotten work coded as feminine.
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Praise for Mad Men and Working Women

Extract

Praise for

MAD MEN AND

WORKING WOMEN

“…a thorough, creative, and well-written contribution to the scholarship examining representations of gender in this popular series.… Overall, this contribution to gender studies is a fresh and insightful work that offers numerous points of entry for readers, and is a welcome addition to scholarly work on popular mediums.”

—Heather Lusty, University of Nevada-Las Vegas,in Popular Culture Review

“The four authors historicize Mad Men’s depiction of gender roles, covering power relations between men and women at home and in the workplace, the professional and personal possibilities open to women and how these are explored in the series. As a result, the discussion is primarily geared towards how Mad Men illuminates the past and allows us to reflect on the present.”

—Lucy Fife Donaldson, University of St. Andrews,in Critical Studies in Television

“A wonderful and fun read. Blends theory with wonderful examples to put the theory into practical applications.”

—Joel C. Geske, Iowa State University,in Teen Vogue’s list of “Epic Feminist Books”

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