Women's History Courses

Sarah Lawrence College’s women’s history program immerses students in a combination of historical studies, feminist theory, and gender studies. The program also draws extensively upon resources in the social sciences and literature and on a legacy of continuing activism both within and outside the College community.

Students in the program find internship opportunities with groups such as the New York Historical Society, The Tenement Museum, and the Association for Union Democracy. Students also actively promote causes and agendas, including women’s equality and reproductive freedom; prison reform; lesbian, gay, and transgender issues; and HIV/AIDS education. Close interaction with faculty members helps students find direction, chart individual paths to the degree, and research and produce original theses.

Women’s History 2020-2021 Courses

Visions/Revisions: Examining Histories of Women and Gender

Graduate Seminar—Year

This course focuses on writings about women’s history and the history of gender. We read a number of different examples of genres that engage in successful history writing: memoirs, novels, political histories, case studies, cultural histories, and biographies. These works are considered with an eye towards developing students’ abilities in several critical areas, including analyzing primary sources; developing historiographies; and applying relevant theories in the fields of women’s history and gender studies. The required readings represent a range of locations on a global scale as well as historical subjects that fall roughly within the 19th and 20th centuries with a few notable exceptions.

Faculty

#BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName: Centering Black Women in the Fight for Racial Justice

Graduate Seminar—Year

Three Black women, Alica Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors, created #BlackLivesMatter in 2012 to protest George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Three years later, #BLM became a rallying cry against police brutality across the country, particularly in Ferguson, Staten Island, and Baltimore. The African American Policy Forum created #SayHerName in 2014 to call attention to Black women who have been killed by the police. Once dismissed as "hashtag activism," #BLM has now become a global movement, as people have taken to the streets this summer not only to protest specific incidents of police brutality, such as the killing of George Floyd, but to call for the abolition of the police state itself. Despite the popularity of #BLM, Black women, such as Breonna Taylor, who suffer state and gendered violence have been downplayed or ignored in most media reports on police violence. This course will examine the historical contexts of both movements, focusing on the experiences of Black women as activists and as targets of racial, gendered, and state violence. A core premise of the course is that we gain a much richer understanding of social systems and their problems by paying attention to society's most vulnerable actors. Through classic and contemporary texts, we will also explore connections among #BLM, #SayHerName, and other social movements for racial justice in housing, health care, education, food, and the environment.

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Thesis Seminar in Women’s and Gender History

Graduate Seminar—Year

This yearlong course is designed for students who are writing MA theses in women’s and gender history. We will discuss the historiographical dimensions of thesis work; assess various research methods, interpretive models, and theories of history; and grapple with practical questions about writing and documentation. Readings include historical scholarship, theoretical works, and research guides. At critical junctures, students will also read and evaluate one another’s work.

Faculty

Research Methods Workshop

Graduate Seminar—Year

Students of this course will meet monthly to learn about primary and secondary source analysis and archival collection access practices, as well as historical research and interpretation. The class trains students to advance arguments grounded in historical evidence, using analytical and critical thinking skills. Participants will develop an effective research methodology crafted for their learning styles and preferences and become prepared for thesis work, assessing historiography, interpretive models, and theories of history.

Faculty

History Colloquium

Graduate Seminar—Year

History Colloquium convenes several times each term for a lecture and discussion with scholars of women's and gender history. Lectures explore a range of topics that interrogate the interplay between race, gender and sexuality. In addition to their research, students will learn the various ways in which each scholar practices history. What is their research and writing process? How do they create a historical narrative and what is at stake? While lectures are open to the public, discussions are tailored for women's history students.

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