Seminar in United States History
This seminar examines the construction and contestation of gender roles—definitions of womanhood and manhood—during the Civil War era (from the 1830s through the 1870s). We will explore how the gender conventions of the North and South diverged during the antebellum era, and assess how that divergence shaped sectional tensions; re-envision the Civil War as a crisis over gender roles, in which men and women in each section struggled to fulfill—and at times openly rebelled against—the prevailing definitions of women’s sacrifice and of manly heroism; and reveal the gendered dimensions of slave resistance, emancipation and the contest over citizenship during Reconstruction. The course aims to furnish you with the tools to craft an article-length (25 page) research paper, by semester’s end. Students will identify topics, pertaining to our course themes, in consultation with the instructor; in the last four weeks of the course, we will focus on the research and writing process.