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Sex and the City: Gender and Urban History
Gender is an identity and an experience written onto the spaces of the city. The urban landscape – with its streets, buildings, bridges, parks and squares – shapes and reflects gender identities and sexual relations. This course examines the relationship between gender and urban space from the 18th century to the present. This course explores some of the many ways in which cities and the inhabitants of cities have been historically sexed, gendered, and sexualized. We will examine the ways in which gender was reflected and constructed by the built environment, as well as how urban space and urban life shaped gender and sexual identities. The course is organized thematically and explores different aspects of city life such as prostitution, urban crime, labor, politics, urban renewal and decay, consumption and leisure, and the ways in which sex and gender intersects with these issues. In addition to reading and analyzing secondary and primary sources, we will also experience ourselves how gender is being written onto the urban landscape by walking in the city.
Fashion and Power: The Politics of Dress in American History
Clothing is among the most visible and accessible means through which we express our identities. Hence, it is hardly surprising that political and social tensions are embedded and embodied in fashion. As an expressive medium, clothing and appearance became crucial in the construction of political identities and in serving as a means of control, oppression, as well as protest and resistance. This course will examine the links between clothing, sartorial practices and political significance. Special attention will be given to the role of clothes in negotiating and constructing gender, race, class, sexual, and national identities. Readings will address the question of sartorial politics from a historical perspective and will focus on American history and culture from the 18th century to the present. In this seminar, students will pick individual research topics, which address one of the course themes. While the readings center on American history, students are welcome to consider transnational and international topics for their research papers.
Shopping for Change: Consumer Culture and Social Movements in America
Consumption has been central to American political, economic and social life. Americans have engaged in individual and collective action as consumers to fight corporate malfeasance, to influence legislators, and to assert consumers’ rights. Yet being a consumer is also a political practice, and forms of consumer activism have been central to some of the most important struggles for social justice, political rights and freedom in America. This course examines the connections between consumption and politics, by looking at the role that consumer identities and activism played in various social movements throughout the twentieth century, from the Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902 to the present. By reading primary and secondary sources, we will examine how consumption was a means to challenge gender, race and class barriers, to claim equality and citizenship, and to fight social injustice. However, in looking at these struggles over access, control and rights, we will also examine how the focus on consumption was used to co-opt subversive political messages and to contain radicalism.
Gender, Race, and Class in American Popular culture
This course explores how notions of race, gender and class have been constructed, reflected and contested through American popular culture from the nineteenth century to the present. A special focus will be given to the reciprocal relationship between culture, politics and the economy, and the ways in which class, gendered, and racial identities reflected and shaped them. We will examine how different forms of popular culture, broadly defined as both cultural artifacts and as cultural practices provide us with new types of historical sources and how historians are using them to rethink historical questions such as labor struggles, empire, immigration and democracy. Readings includes both primary and secondary documents and topics are organized chronology. In considering the multifaceted aspects of popular culture, we will examine how it became a useful prism to shape, express and influence notions of gender, race and class.
Women and Gender in American History, 1865-Present
This course provides an introduction to the field of Women’s and Gender, through examining women’s experiences and the change in gender systems from historical perspective, starting from 1865 to the present. We will explore how women’s and men’s political right and social roles have changed, appreciate how does gender shape our understanding of historical events, and learn about the development of feminist activism and ideology. Challenging the understanding of American feminism as occurring in distinct “waves,” we will learn how women have consistently struggled—through both large-scale political movements and everyday battles—for their rights as humans, as workers and as women. As much as we will study women as a group, and focus on the commonalities between them, we will also discover the ways gender has impacted the lives of women differently depending on their race, ethnicity, class and sexual orientation. Although not the focus of this course, we will also examine how gender influenced the life of men, understanding that not only women have gender. The course moves chronologically through eleven study units. In each unit we will consider the impacts of gender and women’s experiences in a historical contexts. We will engage both with primary sources from the period. Readings include some of the fundamental feminist historical articles in the fields, so students will gain familiarity with the key historiographical debates and the scholars who shaped the field.
Corporeal Narratives: The Body in Historical Perspective
The human body has always had an important role in constructing social, political and cultural relations. Although it seems as though the body is a fixed, a-historical category, in recent years historians found it to be a valuable source to understand questions of race, gender, sexuality, class, nationalism, citizenship, as well as political and social institutions. This course will explore the history of the body, and how different bodies – male and female, enslave and free, healthy and sick, able and disable, active and idle, natural and artificial, normal and deviant – were constructed and imagined for different purposes, and how the lived experiences of bodies as well as their symbolic meanings can shed light on social, political and historical processes. Readings will highlight many of the ways that historians have approached the body as a historical source and as analytical method. Treating the body as a historical text will allow us to explore the intersections between lived experiences and representation of bodies over various geographical regions and time periods.