HIS 317L • US WOM/SEXALTY/GEND TO 1865
3:00 PM-4:30 PM
This course will examine changes in the history of women, sexuality, and gender from the first colonial settlements to the Civil War. Drawing on a range of sources, including women's and mens political, imaginative, and private writings, we will explore the changing relation of gender and sexuality to families, economics, politics, religions, and culture for the variety of peoples who inhabited early America. We will return throughout the class to several central questions that emerged in early American society and which continue to have an impact on the United States today: How did culturally-dominant ideals for men and women affect the actual lives of ordinary people? How did new understandings of sexuality and reproduction affect the social constructions of manliness and womanliness over time? How were the experiences of people of color, the poor, or rural people related to the gender experiences of wealthy whites? How did new ideas about liberty and freedom affect the lives of women of all races? Throughout, this class draws attention to the interrelations between gender and other means of marking social hierarchiesrace, class, and sexual orientation, to name a few.
The focus in this course is on reading, interpreting, and criticizing textsto introduce students to historical thinkingrather than on the strict memorization of factual information. To do so, the course readings will balance both original historical documents and scholarship by historians.
Weekly reading assignments average 80-100 pages. Grades will be based on three essay exams. Engaged, thoughtful class discussion and participation will improve your final grade.
Hannah Foster, The Coquette Richard Godbeer, Sexual Revolution in Early America Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Narrative of Mrs. Mary Jemison (a white captive converted to the Seneca tribe of Indians) Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic Kathryn Kish Sklar, Women's Rights Emerges within the Antislavery Movement, 1830-1870