HIST 291/FGSS 269
Professor Aimee Loiselle
This seminar will introduce students to histories of gender and sexuality in the context of women’s paid work, the U.S., and global capitalism since 1900. In this perspective, “U.S.” does not denote only the geographic, bordered United States, but also a political, economic, and cultural hub for currents of transnational capital and labor. While women have always worked, ideas about “woman’s work” shift across race, class, region, and time. Feminist historians have examined the dynamics between gender, work, and labor activism, and the ways that women earning wages in turn change notions of gender, sexuality, and the body. Yet recent histories of capitalism too often ignore women’s history, gender analysis, and sexualities.
We will discuss influential theories in the field of gender and sexuality studies and how they apply to the writing of such history. All students interested in gender as a category of historical analysis for their scholarly work in any field, as well as prospective history and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies majors, will benefit from this course.
Important questions push beyond a simplistic gender binary division of work, labor, or class to ask: how do gender, race, and class impact sex work; how do notions of femininity obscure the significant role of women workers in U.S. imperialism; what happens to ideas of gender, sexuality, and race when women join currents of migrating workers; what are perceptions of the “right work” for women’s bodies and how do these change across other categories like race, class, and size; what has the “feminization” of paid work with the rise of service industries meant for men and masculinity in different regions? This course seeks to reinforce recent scholarly attention to the connections between workers, labor, and economic and social structures through the study of women, gender, and sexuality.