question 1

Passage 28

The settlement of the United States has occupied
traditional historians since 1893 when Frederick Jackson
Turner developed his Frontier Thesis, a thesis that
explained American development in terms of westward
(5) expansion. From the perspective of women's history,
Turner's exclusively masculine assumptions constitute a
major drawback: his defenders and critics alike have
reconstructed men's, not women's, lives on the frontier.
However, precisely because of this masculine orientation,
(10)revising the Frontier Thesis by focusing on women's
experience introduces new themes into women's
history-woman as lawmaker and entrepreneur-and,
consequently, new interpretations of women's relation-
ship to capital, labor, and statute.
(15)Turner claimed that the frontier produced the indivi-
dualism that is the hallmark of American culture, and
that this individualism in turn promoted democratic
institutions and economic equality. He argued for the
frontier as an agent of social change. Most novelists and
(20) historians writing in the early to midtwentieth century
who considered women in the West, when they consid-
ered women at all, fell under Turner's spell. In their
works these authors tended to glorify women's contribu-
tions to frontier life. Western women, in Turnerian tradi-
(25) tion, were a fiercely independent, capable, and durable
lot, free from the constraints binding their eastern sisters.
This interpretation implied that the West provided a
congenial environment where women could aspire to
their own goals, free from constrictive stereotypes and
(30) sexist attitudes. In Turnerian terminology, the frontier
had furnished "a gate of escape from the bondage of the
By the middle of the twentieth century, the Frontier
Thesis fell into disfavor among historians. Later, Reac-
(35) tionist writers took the view that frontier women were
lonely, displaced persons in a hostile milieu that intensi-
fied the worst aspects of gender relations. The renais-
sance of the feminist movement during the 1970's led to
the Stasist school, which sidestepped the good bad
(40) dichotomy and argued that frontier women lived lives
similar to the live of women in the East. In one now-
standard text, Faragher demonstrated the persistence of
the "cult of true womanhood" and the illusionary qual-
ity of change on the westward journey. Recently the
(45) Stasist position has been revised but not entirely
discounted by new research.

1. The primary purpose of the passage is to

A provide a framework within which the history of women in nineteenth-century America can be organized.
B discuss divergent interpretations of women's experience on the western frontier
C introduce a new hypothesis about women's experience in nineteenth-century America
D advocate an empirical approach to women's experience on the western frontier
E resolve ambiguities in several theories about women's experience on the western frontier