Five Books to Kick off Women’s History Month

A few of the many reads by GW alumnae and faculty that explore contemporary and historical women’s lives.

March 1, 2024

Collage of 5 books

Women’s History Month presents an opportunity to recognize the contributions of women to American history and culture. Below, GW Today rounds up a few of the many books by George Washington University women authors exploring women’s lives, history and impact.

“Thicker Than Water”
Kerry Washington, B.A. ’98, HON ’13

Emmy-winning actor, director, producer, activist: Monumental Alumna Kerry Washington’s resumé is stacked. But her critically-acclaimed autobiography explores her life away from the spotlight, her relationship with her family and her commitment to art that uplifts women and people of color.

“Gendered Citizenship: The Original Conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-1963”
Rebecca DeWolf, B.A. ’04, M.A. ’08

The proposed Equal Rights Amendment, which would amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee legal equality on the basis of sex, has remained in limbo for more than a century. DeWolf’s book is the first comprehensive, full-length history of the early struggle over the proposed amendment, grappling not only with the battle over women’s constitutional status but also with “the more than 40-year mission to articulate the boundaries of what it means to be an American citizen.”

“Season to Taste: Rewriting Kitchen Space in Contemporary Women’s Food Memoirs”
Caroline J. Smith, associate professor of writing

As women have asserted the right to escape the physical and metaphorical space of the kitchen, they have also expanded what it means to be there. By exploring women’s writing about the kitchen from “Better Homes and Gardens” articles in the 1960s to powerhouse contemporary writers like Ruth Reichl and Julie Powell, Smith “documents how the kitchen has been reframed from a gender prison to a stage for self-discovery.”

“A Part of the Heart Can’t Be Eaten”
Tristan Taormino, M.P.H. ’23

From GW Magazine: In this no-holds-barred memoir, Taormino, a sex educator, filmmaker and podcast host, writes about the influence that an “extraordinary queer father-daughter relationship” had on her coming of age and queer identity as well as the pain of losing her father, Bill Taormino, to AIDS in the 1990s. “He was my best friend, my mentor, my teacher,” she writes. “He instilled in me a belief that drives me: I can do anything I set my heart to, and I can make this world better for people like us.” Weaving together excerpts from her father’s unpublished memoir, she reflects on the bonds, losses and mental health struggles that have defined her.

“Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe”
Gayle F. Wald, professor of English and American studies

Johnny Cash, in his induction speech at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, remembered Sister Rosetta Tharpe as one of his earliest heroes. Chuck Berry, sometimes called the “father of rock and roll,” is said to have called his whole career “just one long Rosetta Tharpe impersonation.” Yet for decades, the trailblazing musician seemed to have been forgotten by the American public. Published in 2007, Wald’s biography revitalized popular understanding of Tharpe’s seminal contributions to rock and roll and was even adapted for the stage in 2017.