chapter  5
13 Pages

The Literature Review as Scholarship: Using Critical Reviews and Historiography  

It may be rare for a scholarly invitation offered as flattery to result in real intellectual learning for the speaker, but I experienced such an unexpected moment a few years ago. A friend asked me to be a “virtual speaker”—that is, to join her class for an on-line “chat”—with her master’s students who were studying one of my articles. My friend, who is not a historian, was guiding her class through the history of women in higher education, assigning them first the acknowledged landmark in the field, Barbara Solomon’s In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America.1 Following their examination of Solomon, the students were reading my critical essay, “Reconsidering a Classic: Assessing the History of Women’s Higher Education a Dozen Years after Barbara Solomon.”2 Starting from the recognition that Solomon’s book had established a mid-1980s benchmark for knowledge about women’s higher education, my article had reviewed the burgeoning scholarship appearing over the subsequent decade, comparing it to Solomon’s study and showing where new work was extending her analysis.