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This idealized story of four years in the life of Kay, Jean, Helen, and Louise evokes the lost world of Iowa State's Home Economics Division in the fifties. When an assembly speaker at the high school talks of girls who studied home economics in college, Kay is smitten. But it is a big thing for someone in her family to attend college. She convinces her parents to make the sacrifice and is so eager to leave that she is packing her bags just minutes after receiving her acceptance letter. There is more than a hint here that she wants something more than her family or high school can ordinarily offer. "What is home economics?" the narrator asks, hinting at the field's complexity: it is an interdisciplinary field that unites the arts and sciences with traditionally female activities, thus feminizing many otherwise neutral activities. 

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