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Issues & Concepts in Women's Gender History

The course is designed to introduce graduate students to key methodological and theoretical issues in the field of women's and gender history. We will focus on the development of specific conceptual problems and preoccupations as we consider the historiography of the post-1980 period. In particular, we will ask why the field fractured during the late 1980s and early 1990s along the lines of those who consider themselves "gender historians," as opposed to "women's historians," a fracturing that implies different theoretical (some would say, political) priorities and perspectives. We will look closely at paradigmatic shifts in the field during the early 1980s, the handling of questions of class formation, the impact of "the linguistic turn," the recent debate over "experience" as a category of analysis, and the challenge of new methodologies to more traditional forms of empiricism. The course draws on major texts in European and U.S. history, and deals with both the development of a field and its impact on the discipline of history.