History/GWS 249 Reading Guide

Jewish Mothers and Jewish Daughters

  • Kim Chernin, In My Mother’s House: A Memoir (Anniversary edition 2003; originally published 1983 as In My Mother’s House:  A Daughter’s Story; reprinted 1994), Part II, Part III.  Then read the evolving context in which Chernin located the book:

    "Epilogue: In My Mother’s House, August 1981," (1983; 1994), 295-309. (e-reserve).  Note:  this account is omitted in the 2003 Anniversary edition.

    "Foreword to the HarperPerennial Edition"; "The Family Album," (1994), vii-xxvi; 12 unnumbered pages. (e-reserve). Note: Chernin moved the first section of the 1994 Foreword to the end of the 2003 Anniversary edition, so that it became the new Epilogue; she wove the last four pages of the 1994 Foreword into "What Remains, September, 2002" which precedes the Epilogue.

    "What Remains, September, 2002"; "Epilogue," (2003), 425-468. (e-reserve)


  • Both of the Chernins locate their stories, experiences, commitments in particular historical contexts.  Explore those contexts and what they do (and don’t) explain and clarify.
  • In a book with two voices, though written by one author, what is each woman trying to convey to the other, to a larger audience, and how does Kim Chernin’s filter work with each voice?
  • Pick one of the chapters—either a “story” or a contextual narrative—for any reason: because you liked the story, because the content moved you, because the voice worked for you; or because it (the voice, the content, the agenda) bothered you, troubled you, put you off.  Try to articulate: a) your response to the chapter; b) what you think Chernin was trying to achieve, show, explain in the chapter.
  • Whose story is this?  What is the story about?