WiSe 15/16: Man, Woman, Nation: The Public Uses of Gender in American Culture, 1877-1920
This seminar explores the shifting significance of gender in American culture from the end of the Reconstruction period up to the 1910s. In this era of industrial expansion, political tension, and ... read more
This seminar explores the shifting significance of gender in American culture from the end of the Reconstruction period up to the 1910s. In this era of industrial expansion, political tension, and cultural modernization, the Victorian gender categories of the 19th century began to erode and new discourses and lifestyles associated with progressivism and early feminism emerged. The domains of the home, the family, and the community became entangled with the nationalist project of (re-)defining male and female citizenship in a country that slowly recovered from the massive rupture of the Civil War. In the course, we will examine how the lasting influence of older discourses (e.g. the cult of domesticity) clashed with turn-of-the-century sensibilities, such as the increasing female presence in the workplace or the longing for aggressive manliness in the imperialist contest.
Participants will first inquire into the theoretical and methodological challenges of studying gender practices and performances in historical context. As a group, we will discuss a selection of influential texts by authors such as Catherine Beecher, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edward Bellamy, Theodore Roosevelt, and Margaret Sanger. Further topics are the photographic oeuvre of Frances Benjamin Johnston and the cultural work of women's magazines. In a final section of the course, students will present their ongoing work on an individual research project.
This course builds on the material covered in the lecture course by Dr. Kirsten Twelbeck. If you wish to participate in this seminar, you are strongly encouraged to attend the accompanying lecture on "Capitalism, Sectionalism, Immigration: From the American Civil War to World War One."