Instructor: Professor Pamela Walker

Course Description:

Well-behaved women seldom make history, wrote Harvard historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in 1976. At the time, she was writing about ordinary women who lived quiet lives in rural New England in the 17th century.  It has since become a feminist slogan, reprinted on mugs, t-shirts, and postcards. But let’s consider that phrase – why is it that well-behaved women seldom make history? Do people “make” history, or is it something we, in our own time and place, write?

In this course, we will consider women’s and gender history through lectures, reading and immersive historical games.  We will consider the lives of women – the “well-behaved” women who lived lives within societal norms, marrying, having children, working in factories or on farms, or running the plantations. And we will also look at the “ill-behaved” women – the women who loved and had sex with women, who took to the streets to demand the vote or access to birth control, who resisted and escaped slavery, and who participated in riots and revolutions.

This course will offer a broad perspective on how women and men have negotiated their gendered subjectivity from the early modern period to the twentieth century. We will consider how gender has been constructed and deployed in relation to other categories including class, race, and sexuality.  The course will primarily focus on Europe and North America with attention to a wider, transnational perspective.

Class will meet twice weekly for one and a half hours and will include participation in immersive historical games, as well as lectures and discussions of assigned readings. Readings will include scholarly articles, book chapters, and primary sources that will be made available on cu-learn.  Grades will be assessed on class participation, several short reading response essays, and a final assignment.