Current feminist theory, in validating women's own
stories of their experience, has encouraged scholars
of women's history to view the use of women's oral
narratives as the methodology, next to the use of
(5) women's written autobiography, that brings historians
closest to the "reality" of women's lives. Such
narratives, unlike most standard histories, represent
experience from the perspective of women, affirm
the importance of women's contributions, and furnish
(10) present-day women with historical continuity that is
essential to their identity, individually and collectively.
Scholars of women's history should, however, be
as cautious about accepting oral narratives at face
value as they already are about written memories.
(15) Oral narratives are no more likely than are written
narratives to provide a disinterested commentary on
events or people. Moreover, the stories people tell to
explain themselves are shaped by narrative devices
and storytelling conventions, as well as by other
(20) cultural and historical factors, in ways that the
storytellers may be unaware of. The political rhetoric
of a particular era, for example, may influence
women's interpretations of the significance of their
experience. Thus a woman who views the Second
(25) World War as pivotal in increasing the social
acceptance of women's paid work outside the home
may reach that conclusion partly and unwittingly
because of wartime rhetoric encouraging a positive
view of women's participation in such work.
Questions 31-36 refer to the passage above.
3l. The passage is primarily concerned with
(A) contrasting the benefits of one methodology
with the benefits of another
(B) describing the historical origins and inherent
drawbacks of a particular methodology
(C) discussing the appeal of a particular
methodology and some concerns about its use
(D) showing that some historians' adoption of a
particular methodology has led to criticism of
recent historical scholarship
(E) analyzing the influence of current feminist views
on women's interpretations of their experience
32. According to the passage, which of the following
shapes the oral narratives of women storytellers?
(A) The conventions for standard histories in the
culture in which a woman storyteller lives
(B) The conventions of storytelling in the culture in
which a woman storyteller lives
(C) A woman storyteller's experience with distinctive
traditions of storytelling developed by the
women in her family of origin
(D) The cultural expectations and experiences of
those who listen to oral narratives
(E) A woman storyteller's familiarity with the stories
that members of other groups in her culture tell
to explain themselves
33. The author of the passage would be most likely to
make which of the following recommendations to
scholars of women's history?
(A) They should take into account their own life
experiences when interpreting the oral accounts
of women's historical experiences.
(B) They should assume that the observations made
in women's oral narratives are believed by the
intended audience of the story.
(C) They should treat skeptically observations
reported in oral narratives unless the
observations can be confirmed in standard
(D) They should consider the cultural and historical
context in which an oral narrative was created
before arriving at an interpretation of such a
(E) They should rely on information gathered from
oral narratives only when equivalent information
is not available in standard histories.
34. Which of the following best describes the function of
the last sentence of the passage?
(A) It describes an event that historians view as
crucial in recent women's history.
(B) It provides an example of how political rhetoric
may influence the interpretations of experience
reported in women's oral narratives.
(C) It provides an example of an oral narrative that
inaccurately describes women's experience
during a particular historical period.
(D) It illustrates the point that some women are
more aware than others of the social forces that
shape their oral narratives.
(E) It identifies the historical conditions that led to
the social acceptance of women's paid work
outside the home.
35. According to the passage, scholars of women's history
should refrain from doing which of the following?
(A) Relying on traditional historical sources when
women's oral narratives are unavailable
(B) Focusing on the influence of political rhetoric on
women's perceptions to the exclusion of other
equally important factors
(C) Attempting to discover the cultural and historical
factors that influence the stories women tell
(D) Assuming that the conventions of women's
written autobiographies are similar to the
conventions of women's oral narratives
(E) Accepting women's oral narratives less critically
than they accept women's written histories
36. According to the passage, each of the following is a
difference between women's oral narratives and most
standard histories EXCEPT:
(A) Women's oral histories validate the significance
of women's achievements.
(B) Women's oral histories depict experience from
the point of view of women.
(C) Women's oral histories acknowledge the
influence of well-known women.
(D) Women's oral histories present to day's women
with a sense of their historical relationship to
women of the past.
(E) Women's oral histories are crucial to the
collective identity of today's women.