[Attachment II]

December 6, 2003

Report to DVCM and MHSC

From Marlene Epp

Re. Women, Families & Gender in Canadian Mennonite History: A Survey

Working Outline


1. Leaders & Followers

This chapter will serve as an introductory overview of the topic of Canadian Mennonite women's history and will offer a framework for the topics and themes to be covered in subsequent chapters.

why write a women's history; historiography; myths and symbols - gemeinschaft, gelassenheit, separation, quiet in the land; equality and patriarchy; 16th' century models; biblical literalism; fundamentalism; feminism; sources


2. Pioneers & Refugees

This chapter will explore the migration and settlement experiences of Mennonite women, with stories of women pioneering in 19th century Ontario and Manitoba, refugee migrations from Russia in the 20th century, as well as the transnational movement of Mennonites from Mexico.

theories of diaspora; impact of migration on gender roles; early rural pioneers; mid-century migrants to the city; post war refugees; late 20th century newcomers; transnationals from Mexico


3. Wives & Mothers

This chapter will look at women's lives in the context of their roles within families. A life-cycle approach will follow women through childhood and adolescence (as much as possible with limited sources), courtship and marriage, childbirth and childrearing, singleness, widowhood.

courtship; weddings; marriage; widows; childbirth; family size; birth control; unmarried mothers; child rearing; childlessness; family violence; divorce; singleness; diversity of family forms


4. Quilters & Canners:

This chapter will explore what I call women's 'material' or productive lives. It will address ways in which women worked with their hands and minds to express creativity and artistic impulses and also to exercise vocational aspirations and generate household income.

art and creativity; quilting; women as hosts; homemaking; women as writers; workers and professionals; debates over women in the workforce; education

5. Preachers & Prophets

This chapter will examine the history of women in Mennonite churches and related institutions. It will trace the gradual evolution of women's participation in formal church life, from backroom auxiliary status to ordination as ministers, including such topics as the role of ministers' wives, and debates over the female franchise.

women in formal church life; as ministers; as ministers wives; decision-making in church; missions; women in church vocations; women's organizations; female religious life; other church institutions


6. Nonconformists & Nonresistors

This chapter will explore how particular Mennonite theological concepts are imposed upon or expressed by women in gendered ways. Ideals of nonconformity and nonresistance in particular have been central aspects of Mennonite religious belief and practice and have served to differentiate them from societies in which they have lived.

women and church ideology; nonconformity in dress, hair, jewelry, etc.; nonresistance and pacifism


7. Mennonite Women at the beginning of the 21 st century

A final short chapter will bring the survey up the present. It will address the dramatic changes for Mennonite women and challenges facing Mennonite churches in light of the feminist movement of the 1970s onwards.



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