Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education


Higher Education

First Advisor

Dilley, Patrick


This paper explores the manner in which campus culture during the middle of the twentieth century idealized the image of the campus sweetheart, which had become common within higher education during the period, to project characteristics and beliefs that adhered to a restrictive feminine standard. By analyzing newspapers and yearbooks produced at multiple Midwest universities during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the paper demonstrates how the image of the sweetheart promoted an unrealistic feminine standard pertaining to beauty and monogamy to young women entering higher education during the period. In addition, the paper illustrates the detrimental effect of the sweetheart image for women's educational experiences through an analysis of Sylvia Plath's journals from her time at Smith College.




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