Women, Gender, and Politics in American History

Sophomore and above—Year

A course on women’s history in America can be understood only by way of its inextricable connection to the history of men. Therefore, while the emphasis of the course will be on women, we will also look at the category of gender more broadly by examining relations between men and women and conceptions of masculinity and men’s roles. More generally, the course will provide an overview of women’s history in America, beginning with the 17th-century colonial settlements and extending to the 1970s, by focusing on the relationship between gender and politics. We will examine the extent to which women were able to participate in the public sphere despite their exclusion from formal political power for much of the nation’s history. We will place the topic of women and politics in the larger context of American history, studying how more general social and cultural trends affected and were affected by women’s political activities. Specific topics and themes will include the ideology of separate spheres; the relationship of gender, race, and class; the impact of war on women; sectional and regional differences; the suffrage movement; and the emergence of feminism.