Feminism, Socialism, and Pragmatism in the Life of Marcet Haldeman-Julius, 1887-1941
Barrett-Fox, Jason E.
University of Kansas
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This thesis is an important intellectual, political, and cultural biography of Marcet Haldeman-Julius. Marcet's life demonstrates the important intersections between class, gender, politics, and individual agency that unfolded against a backdrop of fascinating historical characters, including her aunt Jane Addams, her husband Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, the largest publisher in the world, W.E.B. Du Bois, and John Dewey. In this thesis, I trace her early life including her parents' relationship and her family's tense relation with Jane Addams and the family's relationship with The Appeal to Reason, the large socialist newspaper published out of their town. Marcet's marriage draws her into the milieu of American socialism but also into the difficult terrain of gendered subordination. I document Marcet's emergence out of marital strife and into the public sphere, a sphere she helps create with her own feminist writing, writing that helps to excel the Haldeman-Juliuses to the position of the world's largest private publishing company. Then, I account for Marcet's relationship with Jane Addams and her unique inheritance, from both Addams and John Dewey, of a particular feminist pragmatism, a pragmatism that she further complicates and makes her own. Lastly, I offer a specific example of Marcet's application of her liberal feminist and pragmatist ethics in her fight for racial equality at the University of Kansas. Marcet's life is complicated because she doesn't situate herself as a passive observer and does not accept ideological doctrines (feminism,pragmatism, socialism, etc.) in their entirety. Instead she makes them her own, and applies her own felt commitments to real life social problems, from her own marriage to labor to the struggles of African American students in Kansas's universities.
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