This is an explanation for passage 3 of LSAT preptest 77, the December 2015 LSAT – the comparative passage. The passages are about gender analysis. The first passage describes how women’s history shifted towards gender analysis. The second passage is an example of gender analysis: it describes shifts in the gender structure of society in Ancient Rome.
This section has paragraph summaries and an analysis of the passage, links to the explanations for the questions are below.
- In the 1990s, mainstream history started studying women. Yet instead of studying women per se, history studied gender. Gender studies involved a focus on social systems rather than on individual women.
- This process explains why “women” is considered too narrow a topic. As a result, “women’s history” is confined to a celebration of the past, whereas gender is an analytical framework.
- Have we lost something? Maybe gender obscures our understanding of how women related to the world.
- In response to the civil wars, Augustus wanted to strengthen ancient Roman morality’s view that women should be wives and mothers, above all. He passed laws penalizing adultery and rewarding marital births.
- Augustus used language that emphasized that women’s place was in the family, and that this place supported the Roman state. In particular, he called himself “Father of the Fatherland”.
- Augustan-period artists frequently used families in their works, portraying the present as an idealized past.
I’m not sure there’s much to say about these two passages. The first can be summarized as: “Gender analysis has given us an analytical framework, but we may be missing important aspects of women’s historical experience”
The second passage can be summarized as “an example of the gender analysis described in the first passage”.
Frankly, you don’t need to know the details of the analysis in passage B. None of the questions ask about the analysis. And there aren’t many details there. The only facts mentioned are:
- Augustus passed marital laws
- Augustus gave himself a patriarchal title
- Artists drew idealized families
The rest is just analysis provided by the author. The analysis is clearly drawing on outside facts that we don’t have access to. Its thesis can be summed up as: “To solidify the state, Augustus decreed that women should be homemakers, and used various measures to change society’s views on this point.”
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