The Seven Sisters: How to Build an Old Girls' Network: Background information when reading A Woman of Intelligence

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A Woman of Intelligence

by Karin Tanabe

A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe X
A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2021, 384 pages

    Aug 2, 2022, 384 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
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About this Book

The Seven Sisters: How to Build an Old Girls' Network

This article relates to A Woman of Intelligence

Wellesley College campus covered in snowIn Karin Tanabe's novel A Woman of Intelligence, some characters attend all-women's colleges. The narrator Katharina graduated from Vassar and another lead, Ava, graduated from Mount Holyoke. Katharina's occasional babysitter, Sarah Beach, studies at Barnard. These colleges and four other historically women's colleges — Bryn Mawr, Radcliffe, Smith and Wellesley — have been nicknamed the Seven Sisters. Each college was founded to offer women intellectually rigorous undergraduate degrees during a century when the Ivy League and many other universities were restricted to men only. (Novelist Karin Tanabe is a graduate of Vassar College; her earlier historical novel, The Gilded Years, is based on the life of Vassar's first African American student, Anita Hemmings, class of 1897.)

Learning communities focused on women's education are meant to build intellectual skills, foster leadership, and encourage freedom from male-defined rules and roles. Over the past century, leaders in...

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