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 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 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. 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 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 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.
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 histories.
(D) They should consider the cultural and historical context in which an oral narrative was created before arriving at an interpretation of such a narrative.
(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.