WGS 3612

Course Name: 
History of Gender and Sexuality in America, 1865-Present

This course will explore the significance of gender in United States from the Civil War to the present.  We will ask how people’s ideas about gender structured society and 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 definition of womanhood, we will investigate how understandings of gender developed in relation to racial, ethnic, class, and regional differences. 
The goal of this course 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.  A midterm, a final exam, and a longer (five page) paper 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. 

This course fulfills the second writing requirement.

Special NOTE: 
Combined with HIUS 3612
Course Category: 
Sexuality Concentration
Gender Concentration