Introduction to Gender Studies
This course offers an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of gender studies. Through readings, class presentations, discussions, blog posts, and analytical papers, you will develop your own understanding of key methodologies and terms employed by gender scholars and activists. You will apply what you have learned to contemporary issues that particularly interest you. Throughout the course, you will push yourself to respectfully challenge your own and others’ preconceived notions about gender/sex/sexuality. While transnational issues will be explored, and can be the focus of your written work, the bulk of the readings and films assigned for the course focus on the United States.
You will leave this course with a portfolio consisting of an annotated bibliography, blog posts, and analytical papers, all of which will equip you to further develop your understanding of gender in your ongoing work at UVA and beyond.
Gender and Sexuality in America, 1865-Present
Gender and Sexaulity in America, 1600-1865
These two courses, which can be taken individually or as a year-long sequence, explore the significance of gender and sexuality in the territory of the present-day U.S. from 1600 to the present. We will ask, on the one hand, how people’s ideas about manhood, womanhood, and sexuality structured society and, on the other, how social relations defined what it meant to be a man or a woman. Readings and discussion will focus on three particular areas of inquiry: the rights and obligations of citizenship; the value and division of labor; and the configuration of emotional life (including familial relationships, erotic desires, and individual aspirations). Resisting any transhistorical definitions, we will investigate how Native, European, and African understandings of gender and sexuality changed over time on the North American continent. We will pay particular attention to shifting class distinctions and regional differences.
The goal of these courses is to become adept at generating your own historical analysis through the study of primary documents. The majority of the readings consist of primary sources—letters, diaries, legal documents, and fiction written by or about women in the past. In addition, you will read a few secondary sources in order to assess how professional historians analyze and employ evidence. Through short weekly writing assignments and class discussion, you will use these readings to develop your own analytical skills. Lectures will introduce topics not covered in the readings. Two five-page papers and a take-home final exam will require you to synthesize the readings, lectures, and discussion in order to generate your own arguments about the significance of gender in the American past.
Coming of Age in America: A History of Youth
This course will explore the historical experience of young people and the meaning of youth from the colonial period to the present. What did it mean to come of age? What was it like to be a young person? What distinguished youth from childhood and adulthood? What hopes and fears did older people project onto the young? Rather than treating youth as a biologically determined stage of life, we will analyze how shifting social relations and cultural understandings changed what it meant to grow up. Topics to be explored include work, sexuality, education, political involvement, and popular culture. Throughout, we will compare and contrast the experiences of young people from different regions, religious backgrounds, races, and social classes.
Lectures will focus on key changes and turning points in the history of youth. Readings will consist of secondary sources that employ a variety of methodologies and approaches including social, cultural, legal, and political history.
Assignments include five short essays (two pages each), a longer book review (five pages), and a paper analyzing a primary or secondary source (seven pages). This course fulfills the second writing requirement.
Gender and Race in US History
SWAG 220/HIUS 221
This course will introduce students to the history of gender and race in the United States. We will seek to answer the following questions: What does it mean to treat gender and race as historically constructed categories? What is the difference between gender history and women’s history, between the history of race and the history of racial groups? How does the study of gender and race change the narrative of U.S. history? How does it change our understanding of contemporary issues and problems?
We will focus in depth on the period from the 1890s to the 1920s. We will analyze the significance of gender and race to four key topics: civil and political rights; imperial expansion; economic opportunity; immigration and migration; and sexuality. Readings include gender and race theory, historical monographs, novels, and primary documents.
Women’s Rights in America: From the Revolution to the Right to Vote
We will examine the philosophy and strategy of women’s rights activists in the United States from the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to the winning of woman suffrage in 1920. We will explore how the American ideals of freedom and equality were complicated by sexual/gender differences. We will ask how activists imagined sexual equality and what reforms—political, legal, economic, cultural, or psychological—they proposed. Finally, by focusing on differences among women, we will debate whether there ever was—or could be—a woman’s rights movement that spoke to all women.
Most of the assigned readings are primary documents. While I will provide short lectures introducing these documents, the majority of our class-time will be spent discussing and interpreting primary sources as a group.
Feminism in America: 1910 to the Present
This course will explore the history of feminism in America from the 1910s to the present day. We will examine the various philosophies and strategies of people who have allied themselves with the feminist movement as well as those who have opposed it. We will ask how activists imagined sexual equality and what reforms—political, legal, economic, cultural, or psychological—they proposed. We will explore the connections between feminism and other movements including avant-garde modernism, labor organizing, black civil rights, pacifism, gay rights, and immigration reform. By focusing on differences among women, we will debate whether there ever was—or could be—a woman’s rights movement that spoke to all women.
Most of the assigned readings are primary documents. While I will provide short lectures introducing those documents, the majority of our class-time will be spent discussing and interpreting primary sources as a group.