Historical Methods in Gender and Sexuality Studies

This seminar examines the contributions of historical inquiry to gender analysis and queer critical practices.  Readings will provide a broad survey of the fractious impact of post-structuralist theories since the 1980s and 90s on the urgent vindicationalist scholarship emanating from the women’s and gay liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s.  Through key monographs and articles, students will examine how historians have negotiated this turn by first understanding how historical research has deepened explanations of oppression and repression.  Secondly, by highlighting the centrality of differences to historical investigation, we see the crucial role of historical methods in de-stabilizing received binaries and in creating critical distance from normative assumptions.  Finally, this course traces how the political commitments of scholars have transformed the interpretative, and narrative practices of the academic discipline.  In addition to explicating how feminist and queer stances altered historical reasoning, we also explore how building new archives have transformed collective understandings of the past.