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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

Design by Helen Yentus

A "proud history of insubordination as committed by noble women" says the NYTBR, by the Harvard historian who coined the phrase in 1976.


I like this cover very much, as it easily could have been a lazy photographic collage of the women discussed in the book. And it leaves me wondering if the portrayal of a very important idea as a commodified slogan is addressed in the book.

Check out the Knopf Web site for an interview with the author.

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7 comments:

Ian S. said...

nice. It works because you have this strong woman wearing a shirt that makes it clear that she means business and is unashamed to wear a shirt like this.

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Wanted to stop in to see what you are reading!

Rachel said...

I want to like this a lot, despite the bumper sticker title (though the fact that it's written by the historian who coined the phrase makes its use ok by me) but her boobs seem way too high for a natural woman's breasts, and that is really killing it for me. Maybe I'm being petty, but the sinews on her hands speak of an older woman, but no older woman has breasts that high. It's not that I'm against plastic surgery, but why would you put an obviously modified woman on a book about women with the strength to break out of society's mold and make history?

Seriously, it bugs me enough that I probably wouldn't buy the book.

Does anyone else see it? Am I just being overly sensitive?

Sophie said...

I find this cover tedious. and the colours boring.... and boring women seldom make history. And oh please can we move beyond the breasts and their where they are.... her t shirt and her being unashamed etc.....
'Imagine Well Behaved Men Seldom make History' and a shot of a guy in bicycle shorts....

What is it women that do that makes history.... presumably more than wear a T shirt.

Stabbed! said...

Post to Book Design site

I was honored to have my Christine de Pizan at Her Computer included as an illustration in this book, and Dr. Ulrich also suggested that I propose a cover illustration to the publisher. I didn't pursue the project at the time, which I'm sure was a professional mistake, but instead followed another topical “thread” of my choosing. Anyway, my first reaction to the cover was disappointment, mainly because the image lacks complexity. I had envisioned a “rich historical pastiche” of some kind, like the type of images I create that mix illuminated miniature painting with contemporary narrative. My opinion of the cover has changed now, because of what I view as important about the book.

Well-behaved would be too much a re-telling of already well-known feminist history, if it weren’t for the beautiful interlacement of stories and connections leaping backwards and forwards through time. The cover strengthens the thesis of the book and reminds us W-b is more than anecdotes about strong women; it’s a look at how history can be recounted, recorded and reconstructed, thanks to more creative, diverse and inclusive accounts by historians. Particularly female historians. It’s a celebration of how history can be told, as well as a telling of it.

Ian S. said...

Rachel, how does breast augmentation equal a less strong woman?? (breast surgery is done for way too many reasons then meets the eye) Not the least; How does having a high breast line equal breast surgery—the lady could be wearing a push up, sports bra or any other type of lift system...

This looks like a tough lady doing what she wants—standing there with a shirt that says it all.

I would never consider this a striking or amazing book cover conceptually, but at least it says it like it is at a glance.

Sandy D. said...

And it leaves me wondering if the portrayal of a very important idea as a commodified slogan is addressed in the book.

Actually, this topic is discussed very humorously in the first chapter.